The girls and I had a really hard day on Monday. We had an incident at the pool that really shook me up. I just couldn't snap out of it, I cried most of the day on Tuesday. When I put the girls down for nap, I hopped in the shower and tried to restart. I made myself an iced coffee and sat quietly trying to pull myself together. By the time the girls woke up, I felt so much better and knew that some fresh air would do us good. I asked Sloan what she wanted to do and she said she wanted to walk to the park with the swings which is less than a mile from our house. I made the girls a quick snack and threw them into the double stroller.
We were about half way to the park when I stopped to cross the street. There was a car coming towards the street we were crossing so I did a little wave to make sure that he saw us (even though he was pulling up to a stop sign and we had the right of way). He was slowing down to stop at the stop sign so I started walking across the street. I was looking straight ahead when the driver accelerated and drove his lifted jeep straight into the stroller.
I was trying to pull the stroller back as hard as I could, but he had hit it so hard that one of the wheels had broken off and the frame of the stroller had cracked and was folding in on itself. I was screaming and pulling and he just kept pushing the stroller forward. The car pushed us pretty far into the street and then the stroller started falling onto it's side and going under the car. I tried to hold the stroller up with one hand and started hitting the hood of his car (which was as tall as me) and screaming for the driver to stop. The driver finally saw a hand in the air and stopped the jeep. Apparently his jeep was lifted so high, he couldn't see us and just kept accelerating. It all happened so quickly, but at the same time it felt like he was ramming into the stroller for so long. I honestly don't know how he didn't just run them over. Through screaming and pulling, I remember thinking, "My children are going to die. They're going to be run over. I'm going to watch them die." That may sound dramatic and that is not my intention. I really believed they were going to die. He just kept ramming us and I saw the stroller being sucked under his car. By the Grace of God, my children are alive.
When he finally stopped and got out of his car and saw us, I screamed, "BACK YOUR FUCKING CAR OFF OF MY KIDS." The man looked panicked and backed his jeep up as fast as he could. I drug the broken stroller back onto the sidewalk and pulled Sloan's awning back so that I could see her. Sloan was already screaming so I unbuckled her and pulled her out first. As I was holding her, I pulled Phayre's awning back and the moment she locked eyes with me she started screaming and hyperventilating. I have never seen panic like I saw in Phayre's eyes. I can't get her little face out of my head. As I was trying to unbuckle Phayre, the man ran up and tried to help me. I just remember screaming at him to not fucking touch my kids. I sat on the sidewalk, hugging both girls, and thanking God that they were both alive and (seemingly) ok.
The man felt awful, he was just distracted and never looked to his right. He looked left and saw that he could merge into traffic so he blew through the stop sign. He called 911 and an ambulance was there within minutes. Paramedics looked the girls over and said that they looked fine, but that we should definitely have them evaluated to be safe. They also gave me the option of driving the girls to the hospital myself instead of riding in the ambulance. I didn't want to make the situation more traumatic so I chose to drive them there myself. A police officer came and made a report of the incident and eventually Eric came to pick us up and drive us to the hospital.
A doctor looked all of us over and by some miracle, Sloan walked away with a scratch on her face and Phayre had a bloody lip. I was never hit by the car, but hurt my hip and back trying so hard to pull the stroller back. I just can't understand how they're ok, how they aren't dead. I truly believed in that moment that my children were going to die and I can't shake the feeling. I can hardly catch my breath at times, I have so much anxiety inside of me. I feel fearful and helpless. Am I really equipped to keep these little girls safe?
Eric took the rest of the week off and has been doing pretty much everything for all three of us. I am so thankful for my incredible husband. Sloan has been sleeping in our bed at night and having some nightmares. She just starts screaming, "NOOOOO NOOOOO NOOOOOOOO" in her sleep. She is also very confused and angry, throwing massive screaming fits. It's so unlike her and I don't know how to help her process all of this. We're working on it, I just know it's going to take some time.
Sloan keeps reliving it and says, "Mama, he just crashed into me and he wouldn't stop. I was so scared mama and I just screamed and I screamed, but he wouldn't stop." I lose my breath every time she brings it up, I just want to take it all away. All of the fear and confusion and anger.
I know that this situation was out of my control and really a freak accident, but I am honestly too fearful to leave my house. I just want my daughters to be safe and I am so aware of how many things are out of my control and could hurt them. My anxiety is through the roof right now, but I'm working so hard to control it and just focus on the girls. I'm praying that time will help us all move on and that these traumatic memories will fade away quickly. If praying is your thing, I ask you to please pray that these memories will fade for us, mostly for Sloan. And squeeze your babies. Just squeeze them and kiss them and never let them go. Life really is precious.
I am so thankful that all three of us are ok and I know that we'll get back to normal soon. It is not lost on me how much worse this week could have been, we are very very lucky. I am also so thankful for our loved ones who have reached out this week, sent flowers and gifts, and prayed so so much for us. I appreciate these gestures more than you'll ever know.
Update // 9/3/16
I am so humbled by the outpouring of love and support that we have received since I posted this a few days ago. I feel wrapped up in so much love and prayer and it really has helped lift my spirits and calm my anxiety. I am just so appreciative. I don't think I'll ever be able to fully express my gratitude to friends, family members, and complete strangers who have taken the time to reach out and pray for my family.
So a little update... I am still dealing with my anxiety, but it gets a little easier each day. I have gone from feeling completely helpless and fearful, to feeling so incredibly lucky and thankful. I still can't believe my children are alive and unharmed. We finally got out of the house yesterday and when we first left I felt like a nervous wreck. So many cars and people and ways for my children to get hurt. My hands were sweaty and I felt my heart thumping in my chest. After awhile, we started joking and laughing and eventually we just felt like "us". It was so nice to feel normal for a little bit. I know in my heart that life will get back to normal quickly, the memories will fade and we will all be ok.
Sloan is having a really hard time processing everything. I'm most worried about her. She talks about the accident less each day, but she just isn't herself. She's full of so much anger and confusion, which leads to huge screaming tantrums. Her emotions are all over the place (more than the already bipolar threenager) and when something sets her off she lashes out. She starts yelling the meanest things she can think to say, usually things she's heard adults say and they don't even make sense. Eric and I are trying to be as patient as possible and help her work through these feelings, but I'm not going to lie... it's so hard. It's so hard to see your usually sweet child act that way. I know it's just something that we have to work through, but it just sucks. It really really sucks. Sloan isn't waking up at night anymore though and is sleeping in her bed again. So progress! Things are getting better for her and I am thankful for that.
Phayre is pretty much just Phayre! I've never been more thankful for a quickly forgetting one year old mind. Phayre is happy and silly and into EVERYTHING. She is so much more curious than Sloan ever was. She's also a climber, so that's been fun. P has been a little more clingy with me than normal, but I honestly just think she just senses that something has been off.
So all of that just to tell you that things are looking up for the Brown girls. We are healing and I am determined to get our life back on track. We are so incredibly lucky and I am so thankful.
And a few photos from yesterday, because we walked past my favorite pink wall and seeing these two sweet girls of mine smile is like THE BEST THING EVER.
Thank you all again. Thank you for caring about my family and for sending so many hugs, positive thoughts, and prayers. I am eternally grateful.