The man dressed from head to toe in dark navy blue materialized out of nowhere as he stood outside my window. “I need you to put the car in park,” he said. I didn’t answer and I didn’t move. He didn’t ask again. Instead, he leaned inside my widow and reached across my lap as he pushed the gear up into the park position. “Ma’am are you okay?” he asked as he pulled himself back out my window. I didn’t know how to answer. I didn’t know where I was or what was happening, let alone if I was okay. So, I said the only thing I was thinking…the only thing that came to mind, “I’m pregnant.”
I closed my eyes and rested my head on the back of my seat. The pain in my face was horrible. I felt like someone had lit it on fire. I tried not to throw up as I laid my hands protectively on my budding stomach and listened to the voice of the man outside my window, “Dispatch. I’m going to need a bus too. The driver of the vehicle is pregnant.” There was a fuzzy white noise and then the sound of a woman’s voice, “Copy that. Ambulance is in route.” Then the man standing outside my window disappeared.
In the minutes that passed I experienced an odd convergence of time as everything seemed to speed up and slow down simultaneously. The sensation made me feel disoriented. I closed my eyes in hopes it would make me feel less dizzy, so I never even saw the men get into my car. “Don’t worry ma’am, I’m just turning off the engine for safety,” came a calm but intense voice next to me. I nodded okay and immediately regretted it. Shooting pain shot up from my shoulders and neck and into my face. I looked over and saw a middle aged man in turnout gear sitting next me. “Captain? I asked. He smiled and asked how I knew. “My dad and grandpa are both firefighters,” I explained, “I wore my grandfather’s captain bugles on my wedding dress, so I recognized yours.” I felt someone behind me grab my arm and I jumped. A deep but gentle voice assured me he was just putting on a blood pressure cuff and taking my vitals. “Ma’am are you experiencing any pain?” asked the Captain. “My face hurts like hell,” I said as I looked down. My shirt was covered in blood. “Am I bleeding?” I asked. Neither man answered me. Instead the captain told me he was concerned about my baby and asked if I had any abdominal pain or if I was wet. I reached down between my legs and felt the seat. “I think it’s dry,” I said cautiously, “I don’t feel wet and my stomach doesn’t hurt.” He told me that was a good sign and promised me they’d get me to the hospital as soon as they could. Then both men got out of my car leaving me alone to wait.
“Hey!” yelled the voice of a man outside my window. He was new to the scene and dressed in blue and white and I knew he must be a paramedic. “Tell the guys to get a crowbar or something to pry the door open. I can’t get her out!” The captain returned and I heard the scraping sound of metal followed by a pop. My door opened and the men pulled me out. Once I was standing I turned around to look at my car. I gasped. It was crunched all the way to the front doors. The passenger space inside was intact so I didn’t expect the damage to be as bad as it was. Even more surprising was the car behind be. It looked like a ball of metal. “Oh my god!” I said, clearly shocked. The paramedic was kind but serious as he helped me onto the stretcher. I saw an absurdly long line of cars in front of me and for the first time I realized that my car was sitting directly in the way of oncoming traffic.
My heart began to race as I tried to figure out how my car ended up where it did. Even more importantly, I wondered how the oncoming traffic hadn’t hit me. “Is the other driver coming with us?” The paramedics asked one of the firemen. “No. He’s fine. Amazingly, he just has some airbag burns. He’s still talking to the cops. Take her in and get the baby assessed. We’ll call for another transport if we need it.” Then they scooped me up and drove me to the hospital.
The doctor stood smiling at me as tears fell from my face while we watched my baby do backflips in my tummy. Seeing the little black and white blob on the screen showing strong vitals made me start shaking uncontrollably. It was almost like I was hanging on and compartmentalizing until I knew everything was okay. Now, I seemed to be falling apart. To make things more emotionally charged was the knowledge that I was hurt. I had a concussion and a sprained neck and back. I had a laceration over my eye and my face was broken in two places. One fracture over the orbital bone and one on the cheek bone. It was what they called an “unusual fracture pattern” that left my face still structurally intact, but shifted slightly. I heard words like “asymmetrical pre-mature aging,” and “probable permanent indentation.” Even worse was the news that to fix my face would require me to undergo a reconstruction of the facial bones that would put me at high risk of losing my baby.
When I got home I called my dad and told him what had happened to me. I cried as I told him I had refused the surgery. The risk to the baby was too high and I was not willing to risk losing him over a dent in my face and some lopsided aging. The emotion in my dad’s voice was clear and I could tell he was trying not to cry. “Well, congratulations,” he said “today you became a parent.” I couldn’t help but be annoyed. It’s like he wasn’t even listening to me. “Dad, I’m not a parent yet. I’m still pregnant!” I half yelled at him. But my dad was calm and very self confident in his assessment. “Parents,” he explained, “put the needs of their children above their own. They protect their children at all cost. You did that today. Today you became a parent.” I knew he was right. Turning down treatment was a self sacrifice I never even had to think about. The answer to anything that put my baby at risk was an automatic and resounding no. But that didn’t mean I wasn’t devastated about my face.
Now, as I lie in bed with the divot in my left cheek resting against the top of my now five year old’s head, I can’t help but reflect on the miraculous chain of events that allowed us both to be here today. My facial divot and new asymmetrical cheeks seem like a small price to pay for the little life laying in my arms. Even now, its hard to believe that I was hit by a reckless driver in front of a speed trap. Even harder to comprehend is that the police officer looked up from writing a ticket just in time to see the car speeding toward me as I sat in the left lane waiting to turn. The officer dropped his ticket book and ran into oncoming traffic stopping the vehicles that were speeding toward me in the opposite direction just moments before I was hit from behind at an estimated seventy kilometres an hour. The driver that hit me never even attempted to break. The impact pushed me into the oncoming lane. If not for the officer’s quick action I would have been hit from both ends in back to back impacts. To say I’m lucky does not even begin to describe it. What happened to me that day goes far beyond luck. I never believed in angels before my accident, but now I know without a doubt they are real. I had a guardian angel watching over me that day. An angel that saved not only my life, but also the unborn life of the little boy laying in my arms. Except unlike the stereotypical depiction, my angel wasn’t winged and wearing white. My guardian angel was an ordinary man dressed in navy blue.