Woke up early today. Played an April Fool's Day joke on Maze. Then took him to Casey's for doughnuts and juice to surprise Shawn and Bo, who were still sleeping. It was a beautiful morning. I figured, 41 weeks pregnant or not, might as well enjoy this day.
I also decided we should all go to Easter Lake to see the lilacs in bloom, play on the playground and then take a hike on the wooded trails through the red covered bridge. Fresh air and exercise -- maybe that's what the baby needed to get moving.
Tantrum at the Playground
We went to the playground first. The boys played nicely for awhile, and then Bo went down a wet slide and threw a fit. After a half-hour of playing, we decided it was time for the hike. Trees and flowers were blooming everywhere. People were fishing in the lake. Frisky geese and ducks were flying in and splashing down into the calm water. It was truly a beautiful morning.
Hiking in the Woods
We walked across Owen's Bridge -- a red covered bridge that crosses one end of the lake and takes you into the woods that are filled with trails and hiking paths. The boys and I have been here before and love exploring the area. We decided to take Shawn down the path to the lake first. We stopped often along the way, finding walking sticks, taking photos of flowers, telling Bo to slow down and wait for us.... We let the boys play by the lake for 10 minutes and then said we should go exploring elsewhere.
I was feeling pretty proud of myself -- 41 weeks pregnant and out hiking up slippery clay-covered trails, chasing the boys and enjoying the weather.
"I'm the Leader!"
Mazy wanted to be leader to a new path, but Bo, as he often does, decided HE was leader and took off on a path to the north. Shawn and I shook our heads and slowly followed him. I took a picture of a flowering crab apple tree. Shawn waited for Mazy to catch up. But Bo was not walking, he was running up that hill. Within a few seconds, he was out of sight.
We were annoyed because he has been doing this a lot lately and has gotten into trouble for running off without us. Usually it's at the mall or a restaurant, once in a parking lot... But never a wooded area like this. A few minutes passed, and still no Bo. The upper trails branched off all over the place and we soon split up to track him down. The entire time we were calling his name but the little stinker never answered. After 10 minutes, my annoyance turned into slight alarm. Where did he go and why didn't he answer?
Our fast walk turned into a clumsy jog up and down trails, calling his name and silently telling the baby to NOT come at this moment. I was not leaving that area until I had found Bo. At the top of the highest hills where the trails became less traveled and the underbrush more dense, I started to worry. The lake was at the bottom of that big hill.
One time I called his name and he actually answered me, "What mama?" He did not sound upset at all and sounded really far away, closer to the water than I thought. So Mazy and I ran down another hill and I thought at any second we'd find him. But he was nowhere in sight. And he stopped answering us.
Panic Sets In
So, convinced I had misjudged where his voice was coming from, I scrambled back up a hill to continue the search up above. Then I heard a big splash in the water and my heart stopped beating. I was sure he had fallen in. I yelled his name and dashed down a steep hill trying to find a quick route to the water's edge. When I got there, I saw several large geese splashing in the water. I thought they had made the splash, but I was half afraid to look much closer for fear of what I'd find. But there was still no sign of Bo.
I suddenly felt helpless and terrified and fought down true panic. Maze and I dashed up another hill and met Shawn coming down it. We decided I would retrace the path where we'd last seen him and Shawn would go back down the hill toward the covered bridge where we'd parked. By now, 30 minutes had gone by and we were getting desperate. I told Shawn to call 9-1-1.
Well, my husband isn't exactly Mr. Emergency. He gets very quiet and often appears mad during emergency situations -- that's how he expresses his worry. I understand that and don't judge him. At least he doesn't freak out and go nuts. He instead threw me his phone and took off with Mazy down the hill.
I took a deep breath and made the call every parent dreads making: "Hi, my name is Keesia Wirt. My family is at Easter Lake, we're near the Owen's covered bridge. Our three-year-old has been lost for 30 minutes on the trails in the woods and we'd like to see if there are any police nearby to help us search for him."
Now, looking back, I have to say that was pretty damn calm and collected of me. From that call, you could not tell I was on the verge of crying or that my heart was pounding or that horrific scenarios were flashing through my head every second. Actually, I'm pretty good in a crisis.
A very nice female operator answered and wanted more information about exactly where we were so she could send out officers to meet us. I was in the middle of explaining to her when Mazy came running up the path yelling for me. "Mama! Mama!"
I answered him, but the operator quickly called my attention back to her. I could tell by Mazy's voice that something was up so I started running toward him, while talking to her and tripped on a tree root and nearly fell down the hill. "We found him! We found him! He was at the van!" Mazy yelled.
Thank god.... Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Waiting at the Van
I interrupted the operator and said, "I'm sorry. My 7-year-old just informed me that my husband has found our 3-year-old at our van, which is where we have always told them to return if they get lost... Too bad his parents weren't smart enough to follow our own directions..."
She was overjoyed for us but said she wanted to stay on the line until I had visual confirmation of him. I said, "Absolutely. I'm 41 weeks pregnant and moving as fast as I can so just give me a minute to get there." She laughed and said, "Well if this didn't start labor, I think you're in trouble. Is this one a girl?"
We laughed. I was so relieved and happy and thankful that I just kept talking:L "Yes, maybe this one will be a girl. One who clings to my leg and never wants me out of her sight..." I rounded a corner and saw far off in the distance Shawn yelling at Bo by the van. I confirmed that I could see him and thanked her profusely for her help. She wished me luck with the baby and I hung up.
Just then, Mazy reached up and took my hand. I smiled at him and told him I was proud of him for helping us look for Bo. We walked through the covered bridge together -- slowly ... I was sweating, out of breath, my heart was still racing and my sandals had about 2 inches of clay clinging to the bottom.
As we neared the opposite side, Mazy stopped and said, "Mama, I think that's enough excitement for one day. Let's go home and read some books."
I couldn't help laughing and said, "That sounds like a great idea, Mazy. Let's do it."
After hugging Bo and hugging him again and once more for good measure, we drove home. We had a family meeting to discuss the dangers of running off. We discussed what to do if you are lost (ANSWER YOUR PARENTS!). We discussed emergency situations in general. We drilled the seriousness of the situation into both their heads. And then we sent Bo to his room for the rest of the day as punishment. But I kept going in to check on him. To hug him. To read him books and to tell him I loved him.
And then I took a three-hour nap to mentally and physically recuperate from our "fun hike."
And after ALL that.... still this baby was not convinced to join us. I just can't imagine why. :)