Monday, March 14, 2011

A fall from Grace

Last week, my daughter S fell off the bed. She is 16 months old and is generally very adept at getting on and off the bed. My husband and I left her unattended for just a moment and she tripped (we think) and fell. And she was knocked unconscious.

It was the scariest thing I've ever experienced in my life. My husband ran down the hallway with her limp body in his arms (she was out for about 15 seconds) screaming her name. I was in the bathroom with the door shut (a rare occurrence). I wasn't sure what was happening - it sounded like he was chasing her down the hallway or playing. When I opened the door he was standing there with her in his arms. She was not moving or responding.

We ran down the stairs to our neighbor and friend, a NICU nurse, who came charging out of the shower. We thrust our daughter into her arms, willing her to wake up. She came to, but was definitely groggy and rattled.

After a frantic call to the pediatrician, we got in the car to go to Children's Hospital. I sat in the back with her intent on keeping her awake. We made it there, and after many hours, we were able to get a successful and clear CT scan that declared S was fine.

Throughout the day, I was racked with emotions - guilt, pain, love, frustration, anger. How could this have happened? Why did it happened? What if something is permanently wrong? It's not fair, we're good parents. We love our daughter.

One of our doctors (who was also a mother) took me aside and told me to hang in there and not beat myself up. It was an accident and with children, they happen. We can do everything in our power to try to stop them, but we can't. We just need to be careful, do our best and have faith in them.

I'm writing this publicly because while I never, ever want my daughter (or anyone's child) to go through this type of physical (and emotional) pain, I'm sure we will again. She has an amazingly fearless streak in her (one doctor described her as having "verve") so I know there will be other times.
But this accident is exactly that - an accident. We need to be careful and not put her in danger, but we are not bad parents. We maybe had an overconfidence as to her abilities, but that doesn't make us bad. And as parents (and even more specifically, mothers) we have to stop beating ourselves up for not being "perfect."

Here's to health and happiness.


  1. Oh Mama M!!! You poor poor thing. I can't even imagine what you were feeling. You are so right about accidents happening...

    I was just crafting a post about our "fall from grace" this week, but it doesn't compare to yours at all.

    I was running from my car to the grocery store, because M didn't have a hat on so I figured it would be better if I got her inside sooner, and I tripped like I have never tripped before. I literally launched myself into the air somehow and M flew out of my arms and fell on the concrete on her back. It happened so quickly, but was in slow motion at the same time. She and I met eyes as I was getting up and she finally started screaming - I was in shock that she was so far away from me (like a foot, but I was still in shock because I basically threw her). I immediately took her to Childrens because she had an egg on her head and I was all banged up and freaking out.

    She too ended up being fine after observation for 4 hours and a urine drip test to make sure her kidneys weren't damaged. We might have been there at the same time!! :)

    But I too still feel this horrible guilt of dropping her, and being silly and running with her in my arms, and it all being my fault that I might have caused her brain damage. Still shaken up by it and it was 5 days ago.

    Be strong Mama M - you are a wonderful mother. These things will happen but you can never be prepared for them. Wishing you all health and happiness too!

  2. God those moments are just the worst. Back in January I got a call from Hannah's teacher. My husband had slipped on ice dropping her off at daycare - he was carrying her and when they both went down she slammed her head on the pavement. Her teacher thought she was ok but said my husband was kind of a wreck and they should both probably come home.
    When they got home, I took her in my arms, checked her over and immediately called the pediatrician. At this point she had stopped crying and I couldn't even find a mark on her head and they said I could bring her in if I wanted but it sounded like she was ok. When she fell asleep (probably from the emotional toll - but I did shake her awake every couple of minutes) I checked in on my husband.
    He immediately teared up (one of maybe 5 times I've seen this in our relationship) and said "I just always assumed that some parental instinct would kick in in that kind of situation and I would automatically protect her."
    I comforted him and told him that accidents happen and he can't beat himself up about it. I just hope I remember my own words next time the accident happens on my watch...