Eva Amurri Martino’s Blog: Guilt – An Odyssey: The Story of Marlowe’s First Major Fall

07/13/2015 at 10:00 AM ET

Look who’s back: It’s celebrity blogger Eva Amurri Martino!

The actress, who has followed in her mother Susan Sarandon‘s footsteps, is best known for her roles in Dead Man WalkingSaved and Californication, and she has starred on The Mindy Project and New Girl.

Two years after tying the knot in Charleston, South Carolina, Amurri Martino and her husband, sports commentator Kyle Martino, announced they were expecting their first child — a baby girl.

The couple welcomed their now 11-month-old daughter Marlowe Mae in August 2014.

Amurri Martino has started her own blog, Happily Eva After, where she shares about her adventures in motherhood. You can also find her on Instagram and Twitter @4EvaMartino.

Eva Amurri Martino blog
Nina Suh/Love And Lemonade Photography

About two months ago, I went through what I now know to be a sort of Motherhood Rite of Passage: My daughter had her first major fall.

It was absolutely terrifying, and it taught me so much about motherhood and about myself as a person.

(Spoiler alert: She’s absolutely fine.)

So, let me start out by saying that I was the one “on duty” when this happened. Marlowe was just getting into that wriggly, squirmy phase at the onset of crawling when it is nearly impossible to keep them on a changing table. She was fussy from a cold and fighting me; I was exhausted. I turned my head to grab a diaper and in a nanosecond she was on the floor.

And I swear to you I will never forget the sound of the thud when my daughter hit the floor. It is quite literally the thing that nightmares are made of.

Promise.

Immediately she was screaming and I was hysterical. I picked her up (which I now know you are NOT supposed to do) and was like a deer in headlights. I was nauseous and dizzy, and my adrenaline was thumping.

How could I have let this happen? What was wrong with me?

Let me also mention that my husband was on a work trip. I was alone in the house, and it was nighttime. I ran with her to my bedroom and called her pediatrician.

Repeatedly.

He finally picked up and, sobbing, I told him what had happened. I also asked him, in between sobs, “Just tell me. Am I the worst mom you ever knew?”

I swear.

(His answer: “Nope.”)

He talked me through feeling her bones and head for any breaks or bumps, and then asked me how she seemed. Did she seem tired? Did she seem like herself? I panicked. It was nighttime and she was exhausted — of course she seemed tired! This was day four of a terrible cold — of course she wasn’t herself! How could I tell if something was really wrong?!

He also told me that a fall from the height of my changing table was probably not enough to cause serious damage. We hung up, but I was still scared.

And then she started vomiting and things really got nuts.

Almost anyone knows that vomiting after a fall is a red flag. I called the doctor back and he told me to keep her in bed with me and wake her up every two hours, assessing her alertness when doing so. Okay … well, welcome to the worst and most awake night of my life.

Eva Amurri Martino blog
Nina Suh/Love And Lemonade Photography

Even though the doctor didn’t seem very worried, I was absolutely sick with guilt. I felt enough shame and fear and self-loathing to sink myself into the biggest black hole in the universe. I truly believed in that hour that I was the worst mother who ever lived, that I had ruined my child forever, and that nobody would or should ever forgive me. After all, I had never heard of anything like this happening to any of the moms that I knew.

As my child slept (finally), I was awake sitting upright in bed with my eyes as big as saucers. After a few minutes, I decided to call my friend who has three amazing kids, teaches an expecting-parents class, and is generally a supermom. Crying, I told her what had happened. Her first words were, “Okay, first of all, she’s fine.”

But what about the vomiting? What about the fall? What about what a bad mom I was? I just couldn’t believe that things were going to be okay. She reminded me that if my pediatrician were really worried he would have had me go to the hospital, that I was watching her and would absolutely be able to tell if something were really wrong.

Then she told me that every mom she knew, herself included, had at one point had a baby roll off of something. She even listed a few mutual friends and told me to call them. And then she really came through with the words that saved the day: “I forgive you. But you need to forgive yourself.”

I tear up now even thinking about it because that’s what it was about, really. Even with all of the medical advice, my pediatrician’s reassurances, and the stories about other women I knew who had been through the same thing, I just wanted to know that somebody forgave me. I needed to feel like, even though this was a stupid mistake, it didn’t define me as a mother or as a person.

Of course I didn’t forgive myself right then. It took a little while and a lot more commiserating over coffee with girlfriends of mine who had gone through similar experiences, but it definitely got me thinking.

It made me think about the impossible standard we hold ourselves to as parents and as people. About our reluctance to ask for help or to share our shortcomings, even with our good friends! I know one thing for sure, and it’s that we all feel this way at one point (or more!) in our parenting journeys.

We aren’t perfect. But maybe if we learn from our shortcomings and dumb never-do-it-again mistakes, they can be worth something. And maybe, just maybe, if we share our shortcomings with our friends, we may be beacons of light for them when their guilt is pulling them down.

After all, “forgiveness” is not a four-letter word. It has more power than you realize, especially when you keep some for yourself.

Eva Amurri Martino blog
Nina Suh/Love And Lemonade Photography

Xoxo,

— Eva Amurri Martino

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Showing 32 comments

Katie on

Very scary for a parent but I’m glad she’s ok. Once my kids got to the wiggly stage I found it easier to change them on the floor. My daughter fell when walking when she was 16 months and she seemed fine. I went to pick her up later on and she winced. I took her in and she had a broken collarbone. My dr. said it’s a common break with toddlers because they use their arms for the impact when falling forward. Still makes you feel like a horrible parent even though I know I did nothing wrong.

DaisyMoon on

Wow…dramatic much? Well, she is an actress…

Very cute kid.

life goes on on

Beautiful little girl.

nina on

She’s not being dramatic. She’s being honest. My son rolled off the couch onto his butt. I felt like the worst mother ever.

jbecca on

Not dramatic at all, my oldest is almost 18 and I can still feel the trauma/fear/guilt when he “bounced” himself off the bed. Thank GOD he protects new moms learning the ropes and the poor kids they got to practice on. 🙂

Catherine on

I don’t think she’s being dramatic, I think this would be a terrifying situation. I don’t have kids, but I like reading these types of blogs and reading the comments section. So for those of you with kids, is it normal to be able to call your pediatrician at night like that and actually be able to talk to them? I can barely get the nurse at my doctor’s office to call me back within 8 hours, so I’m curious.

Katie on

Catherine,
I don’t have my doctor’s number but if I needed to reach him his service would call him if it was an emergency. My son was born with a potential blood disease and he actually gave me his number in case certain symptoms came up. Thankfully he didn’t have the disease and I never used his number. I even threw it away. My son got a concussion and I stayed up all night to watch him and wake him up every hour (he REALLY loved me at 3 am ha).

Sherry on

Ohhh…this was SO cute but most of her anxiety is just from being a new mom. Just wait until she’s on to Kid #3 or Kid #4—they can swing from the rafters and she’ll barely blink an eye by that point…lol!

Catherine on

Thank you Katie. Hope you and your son are doing well. 🙂

Karen on

A lot of pediatricians are available 24/7, my daughter’s practice always has a doctor on call. Most emergencies happen after hours, and ERs are rough for a small children.

I can completely relate. My daughter slip off the bed once, and I still feel guilty. My husband and I were very ill with a stomach virus, and I was trying to still take care of everyone. She wanted to get moving, and I was dragging along. Thankfully she slid more than fell, and being day I could tell right away she was not acting off – but all I could think about was corners and concussions, all the what-ifs.

Mama to G&G on

I don’t think she is being dramatic. My 14 month old was knocked down a small flight of stairs (6 steps) onto a hardwood floor by our dog yesterday, and I had to hold back the tears so I didn’t scare his 5 year old sister who was crying while he was screaming. I’m not a first time mom so I knew how to handle the situation, but I still felt like the worst mother on the planet and wanted to crawl under the covers and cry. We were on our way to the park when it happened so after I checked him out and saw he was fine, except for a small bruise on his cheek, off to the park we went (figured it would be easier to keep him from falling asleep if he was out, which is was.) He had a good time and we all forgot about the incident!

mommytoane on

Great article. My daughter was 7 when she fell off the swing set and broke her arm. She’s 12 now and I still feel that pang of guilt knowing it happened on my watch. She’s forgiven me, but sometimes self forgiveness is harder. I understand what she’s going through tho. One tip….put the changing pad on the floor. Saves a lot of roll offs and if they crawl around without a diaper for a few minutes it isn’t harming anyone or anything…cept maybe the carpet if they tinkle. lol.

@Daisymoon…I’m going to assume you aren’t a mom, because if you were you would understand completely where Eva is comming from. She’s being honest and not dramatic. EVERY mom feels that way after her child is hurt.

megan on

If my kid fell and hit her head, I’d take her to the ER instead of calling gal pals & surveying each one with “am I a bad mother ? can I forgive myself ?” Priorities!

Anonymous on

megan- Did you even read the article? She called her daughter’s DOCTOR first and he said he clearly didn’t think an ER trip was necessary. Also, I don’t think you can possibly know what you’d do in a situation like that until you actually are. Everybody reacts differently in an emergency!

Anonymous on

BTW, Eva, if you’re reading this, there’s no need to freak out if your kid vomits once after they hit their head. It’s only if it happens twice or more that it’s worrisome!

J on

Where are all the homophobes who were screaming for Neil Patrick & David to have their kids taken away when their son was injured?? Clearly, these two are unsuitable parents, since their child was injured in their care! For that matter, what about Michael Buble and his wife?? Their son was BURNED! Take all the children away!

(Yes, I’m being sarcastic in order to point out hypocrisy.)

Barbara on

Eva, Thank you for your thoughtful and very honest article. It was important that you share this experience because all Mothers get surprised by the random, flash accident that happens as you say “in a nanosecond” when you are “on duty”. I used that phrase all the time myself, because that’s how I felt when I was with my baby. Forgive and stay right in the next step with the baby..babies somehow know that you love them dearly and they forgive accidents so quickly. Don’t fret.

Anonymous on

Thanks for sharing. What a beautiful girl.

I have my Drs number and can reach her after hours for my children. Not all Drs do this for their patients, so I know we are lucky. Dramatic? Not a little bit! I would have been screaming, especially when she started vomiting.

Jane on

Eva has more teeth in her mouth than she is supposed to have.

emma on

She is a cutie

anne on

I slammed my daughter’s hand in the sliding side door of the van about 17 years ago…that makes me the worst mother ever. She & her hand are fine.

Guest on

If the doctor doesn’t say go to the ER, why would you? It would be incredibly traumatizing for any child – long waits, multiple strangers, bright lights, potentially being strapped down for xrays, blood work, etc.

I think most parents can relate, if not to this exact scenario, a similar one. You do feel like the worst, you feel incompetent, and you’re terrified.

huaup on

Hundreds of words to say what could have been said in 100. And actually needn’t have been said at all. zzzzz…..the orange hair is very unattractive.

if you turn to get a diaper, keep your hand on the kid’s midsection.

on the other “hand” falling is part of learning, for all primates!

Debbie on

Welcome to being a mom!!! I remember when I had my 3 or 4 month old son on my king sized bed, playing and snuggling. I got up, he was in the middle of the bed literally, to get a toy from the floor and I heard a big, PLUNK and then a HUGE wailing!! Yes, my little role, poly, munchikin rolled off the bed…on to the carpet thankfully!!! Well , I was alone and a mess and the ONLY person who I thought to call was my own mom in Arizona, I was in Texas at the time. After calming me down, making sure nothing sounded out of the ordinary with my son that warranted immediate medical attention, she welcomed me to the club! Through sobs and shear terror she calmly told me that my son rolling off the bed is really a rite of passage. I am not a bad mom, I’m just a mom doing my best and this is only the beginning of the bumps and bruises that will happen along the way. It iis how I handle the adversity that matters. We On my way! Welcome to motherhood the most amazing club there is!

Poppy on

Good lord, what a drama queen.

Poppy on

Yes, I have children, don’t give me the “if you were a mother you’d know what it was like” line.
My kids rolled off the couch, fell down while walking, etc…all normal parts of childhood and if Mom doesn’t freak out, neither does the kid. They learn what is an appropriate reaction by watching their parents.

JB on

Really, Jane? You’re talking about her teeth? I work in the dental field so I know alllllll about teeth. Her teeth look normal. My guess would be she has all 32 out. A lot of people, like myself, only have 28 because their 4 wisdom teeth never erupt or are pulled out by an oral surgeon at some point in their life.

To those calling her dramatic… Clearly you don’t remember your first child. I do. I also remember my, at the time 10 month old, daughter falling off the bed and hitting her forehead on the frame on her way down when I was sitting with her. She had a lump as big as a silver dollar for a few days and a bruise for over a month.

ZZ on

Good for Eva on doing great!

Stefanie on

HARDLY dramatic, dimbulb Daisy.

This is one cute little girl! Glad she’s OK! Get ready…this was her first fall but it wont be her last, unfortunately! Kids are tough!

dd on

she didn’t say if she fell on carpet or a tile floor…probably was carpet b/c she was at the changing table. Falling to a tile floor would be alot worse and more painful. It’s great the kid is ok. But instead of worrying, and calling & crying…She can call a Dr over to her house or just go to urgent care or hospital. Let a Dr physically check out baby.

arijana birston on

aw it’s just the beginning of many falls.

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