Because this blog serves not only to share pretty home photos, but also to share significant life events, Jeremy and I wanted to share about one of those events that happened a few weeks ago. I was 29 weeks pregnant when I was involved in my first serious car accident. The reason I think the story is worth sharing here is that what could have been one of the worst moments of my life and pregnancy (had things gone a little differently) has actually been, in a strange way, a big blessing in this season of life. But let me backup and tell you the story…(filtered with a couple of maternity photos by Sydney Goodwin Photography to lighten the mood).
Jeremy flew out for a quick work trip to Maine first thing on a Saturday morning, and I made plans to have a relaxing and productive weekend at home starting with a trip to the gym and nearby Farmers Market.
A few minutes from my house, the driver in front of me stopped to turn onto a side street, and I didn’t see her stop in time. I slammed on my breaks and swerved to miss her car. When I swerved, I plunged headfirst into a big, column-sized brick mailbox along the side of the road. The mailbox was reduced to a pile of bricks, the front of my car was completely smashed in, and the airbags deployed. I remember feeling the heat and sting of the airbags and smelling the smoke from their release. I can still hear the loud crashing noise and screeching of my car to a halt amidst bricks and branches. Shock, confusion, and fear took over as I grabbed my stomach to check on the baby.
The next thing I remember is a woman knocking on my window and asking if I was okay. I got out of the car with a little bit of effort (the doors had been hit and were hard to open), and I just remember saying, “I’m pregnant. I think my baby is okay. I’m so sorry. I’m just so sorry.”
I called my husband and he answered as his plane landed on the tarmac in Maine. I frantically tried to make sense of what had just happened and what to do next. A construction foreman and one of his crew members from the build site across the street saw the accident, called 9-1-1, and took charge at the scene until emergency crews showed up. The foreman handed me a bottle of cold water and rubbed my back sympathetically (in the way grown men do when they don’t know how else to comfort a crying, pregnant stranger) while I hyperventilated and expressed an unnecessary stream of frantic apologies for my part in the accident. The girl whose car I swerved to miss (and whose bumper I still managed to damage) was incredibly kind and gracious and concerned about me and the baby.
The accident happened right on a county line, so there was some confusion about which county needed to send emergency vehicles. As a result, two police officers and two ambulances came to the scene. The paramedics checked my heart rate and blood pressure in the back of the ambulance and asked me a series of questions about my pregnancy and the accident. The police officer (who took incredible care of me and the whole situation) got all the necessary details and helped guide me through the process. Dozens of people hovered around the scene.
Throughout the event, I was disoriented and unsure how to process information. People kept asking me basic questions like my name and age, and each response took concentrated effort. I handed the officer the wrong insurance card and couldn’t figure out how to look for anything else.
Jeremy called some dear friends to meet me at the scene. They came and helped me gather my stuff, handle all the final details, and drive me to the hospital (after some much needed lunch). I called the midwives at my birth center (shout out to Baby & Co for being the best), and they said that even though it sounded like the baby was fine, I needed to go to Vanderbilt Labor & Delivery Triage for a few hours of fetal monitoring just to be certain and to make sure that I didn’t go into early labor from the shock. They sent over my records, and I checked in at Vandy for the afternoon.
My sweet friends sat with me while the nurses set me up for monitoring, and eventually I decided that I would be okay to wait there alone for a few hours to try to rest and process what had just happened. Once I was alone on that hard stretcher in the triage room, the initial shock of the incident suddenly fell away and I burst into tears and apologies to my baby. I was sobbing alone in the hospital room, praying that the nurses wouldn’t come check on me during this unfortunate cry session.
I couldn’t stop thinking that maybe I was already a bad mom. That if I had been paying closer attention, I could have prevented the accident. That my only job was to protect this growing baby, and I couldn’t even do that. It could have been so much worse. The bricks could have come through the windshield and hit me head on. The airbags could have impacted my stomach. I could have hit the car instead of the mailbox and sent her into oncoming traffic. If my baby couldn’t trust me now while he is still growing inside of me, how can he trust me to take care of him in the real world?
I was having my first dose of mom guilt, and it didn’t taste good.
After I cleaned up my tears a bit and spent some time just praying and thanking Jesus for his protection, I got a text from another one of my best friends saying she was headed to the hospital with Starbucks and a stack of magazines. She sat with me in that uncomfortable triage room for the next couple of hours at the hospital, listened to me cry and process the events of the day, and came home with me to spend the night and eat Thai curry on the couch.
Jeremy flew home the next day, and we embraced in the yard for longer than usual. It was scary for him to get the call that I had been in an accident when he was hundreds of miles away, and it was hard for me to know he wasn’t close by, but the whole thing reminded us how truly grateful we are for one another.
So here we are three weeks later, and I have had time to process what it felt like to be in an accident while carrying a child. To be in an accident that should have caused injury and walk out virtually unscathed.
And...after all of that...I am really grateful it happened. I feel strange saying that. Grateful for a car accident? Grateful that my car was totaled? Grateful that I went through a traumatic event that could have easily sent me into early labor?
Yes. It turned out to be one of the biggest blessings of my pregnancy so far. Here are some of my takeaways...
I can’t always protect my child, but God can. He loves this baby way more than even I do.
God is still in the business of miracles. When my car hit that mailbox head on, I saw the crash happening all around me, but I felt virtually nothing on my body. My hands had some burns and scrapes from the airbags, but my body and my belly were untouched. ONLY GOD. That shouldn’t have happened, y’all.
I see clearly that we have friends and community who care deeply about us...thanks to friends who showed up to help in Jeremy’s absence and people who prayed for me and checked in for days afterward. My personality can lead me to feel lonely and isolated (and hide those feelings), and sometimes I need to be reminded of the wonderful community that surrounds us.
Life is precious and nothing is guaranteed.
In this crazy world, we can still believe in the kindness of strangers...so many people who were at the scene of the accident acted with unbelievable kindness in a stressful situation.
God is truly our provider. Remind me to tell you the story about the unbelievable way that He provided financially for us through insurance by the totaling of that car. It involves my jaw dropping to the floor and crying happy tears because JEHOVAH-JIREH--GOD PROVIDES!
It is okay to REST. After the accident, I jumped back into running around like crazy, working out multiple days a week, and staying on my feet constantly like nothing happened. One of my care providers warned me that even though my body wasn’t visibly injured, the stress of a traumatic event could send me into early labor if I didn’t REST. I was having entirely too many practice contractions after the accident, and I needed to take a load off and take it easy. That doesn’t come naturally to me, but I needed that reminder.
Drive CAREFULLY. I wasn’t actively texting when the wreck happened, but I had been shortly before and I also wasn’t paying close enough attention to the road. I too often I justify distracted driving. It’s not worth it. It’s never worth it. I’m making such a concentrated effort to drive undistracted.
Sometimes it takes a less-than-ideal circumstance to remind us to be grateful for what we have and to praise the Lord for his protection and provision...even when some days we don’t see it.
This concludes story hour with Chandler :-) Thanks for sticking around and reading this far. Thankful to have you as part of our community and journey!