Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Learning the Hard Way

I feel inclined to write a blog post about something that happened to me on Friday, March 30th. It's something that still makes me squirm and shutter whenever I replay it in my head. It's something that is very sensitive to me, but now I feel that I can possibly write about it without breaking down or wanting to curl up into a ball and never leave my house again. I write this post more for the cathartic experience, and also so I can record my thoughts somewhere (like a journal) to look back on one day. Please keep any comments supportive and non-judgmental. Okay? Thanks :)

So, what happened? In a few words, I dropped my child. On his head/face. On the pavement. From about 3-4 feet in the air (out of my arm). It was absolutely horrifying. I cannot possibly describe how I felt the moment I realized that, not only was I dropping something, but it was my son! I vaguely remember letting out a small yelp, or a "NO!" or "OH MY GOSH" or something of that sort...or maybe all three. I remember realizing that no one was around to see what just happened and being grateful. I remember scooping up my child, who had started screaming (and, in hind sight, I've learned this is much better than picking up an unconscious child... could have been worse, I guess), and running into my apartment to assess the damage.

Once inside, I laid him on the sofa, saw the scratches on his face, and grabbed a cool wash cloth to blot at the cuts. I don't think I was crying by this point, still filled with the sensation of adrenaline mixed with sheer panic. When I took a couple seconds to collect my thoughts, my first inclination was to call the pediatrician (thank goodness it was 4pm on Friday and not later!). They asked me a bunch of questions like "Does he seem alert?" "Are his eyes rolling back in his head?" "Is he vomiting?" "Is he crying hysterically?"... to all of which I could answer no, except for the last question (because of COURSE he was crying hysterically! .. he just hit pavement!). The nurse said she thought he sounded okay, but I wasn't going to even take a slight chance that something could be wrong, so she told me to come on in and he could be seen.

Longest. Car. Ride. EVER! Screaming baby, and I'm pretty sure I hit every single red light and ended up behind every single slow car in Provo. And by this point, with adrenaline wearing off, I was sobbing. I had probably told sweet Charlie that I was sorry at least 100 times. I felt like the world's worst mother. And how was I supposed to tell my husband that I dropped our child?! I felt so ashamed, and T would still be at work for a couple hours, so I didn't call him. I just couldn't tell him yet. So I handled it on my own. Well, and with the Lord's help too. I had been sending prayers to heaven every second since it happened, just praying that he would be okay - that I didn't inflict brain damage, or even permanently mar his cute little face forever.

When we finally arrived at the pediatrician's office, we resembled something of a train wreck. They got us both out of that waiting room ASAP (I think we sat there for maybe 30 seconds) so as not to scare the other patrons. Looking back, I can now laugh a little at what an awful sight we probably were - Charlie still screaming, and me crying too.

We had to wait for the doctor (Dr. Adams in this case) for quite a long time. Or, at least, it felt like it. Charlie finally fell asleep for a minute. (Oh, did I mention I dropped him literally right before nap time, so he was exhausted anyway!) But every time he would stir, he would cry again. It was the saddest, most pathetic little "pain" cry. And it just broke my heart. The only thing that alleviated any of my guilt and anxiety in the moment was the fact that Charlie would only calm down when I was holding him close. To me, it was like he was saying, "I forgive you, Mom. I know you didn't mean to. I love you".

By the time the doctor saw him, it was about 1 hr post-"incident". His head had started to swell up a little, and even though he was still acting okay, the doctor and I agreed that it would be a good idea to take him to get some x-rays done on his skull... just to make sure there wasn't a depressed fracture, or that his skull plates hadn't been knocked out of place. Fortunately, the hospital is 3 blocks from the pediatrician's office (and just down the road from my house!). So, we packed up to head over.

The elevator ride down to my car was shared by another young couple and their sweet 2 month old boy. They saw how sad Charlie was and made a comment about "Ooohh, is he okay?" (Probably thinking he had gotten shots). Although I was somewhat composed before this moment, I couldn't help but say, as the tears began again, "Well, I accidentally dropped him....Don't.. don't ever do it... It's awful!" I will never forget the look of pity/horror/sadness/compassion on the girl's face. She asked if I was okay, and when I told her we were on our way to get x-rays, she asked if I needed help. I politely declined, saying "thank you". She was so sweet for caring, but I hope she didn't worry about me too much. Maybe she'll learn from me that it can happen to anyone, and she'll be more careful than I was.

Upon arriving at the radiology department at the hospital, I had to get Charlie back out of his car seat, because he had worked his way up to hysterics again. Poor little boy... little tiny body... on that big, hard, cold x-ray table. I had to help hold him still, and he was SO upset about it. But, with a couple tries, the technician was able to get three different shots of his skull. I was so glad when I got to just hold and comfort him again. They took us to a consultation room and said that my doctor (pediatrician) would call me in about 15 minutes once the radiologist had a chance to look over the x-rays. By this point, Charlie was exhausted, in pain, and HUNGRY!, and finally I had a chance to let him eat. By the end of the bottle, he was finally asleep in my arms and we enjoyed a few moments of peace.

It's strange, waiting in a room with no windows, with just a sofa and a phone, for a telephone call that will let you know whether or not you really messed up your child. It's lonely, really. When, finally, the call came, the results were, well, un-telling. The doctor said there may or may not be a small fracture on his skull. They said they can see something, but they can't tell if it was there before from the natural growth and movement of his bones, or if it was something new, inflicted by the day's event. The good news was that the plates hadn't shifted, and there didn't seem to be a depressed fracture (which can be more serious). I asked him what all of it meant. He said, if it is a fracture caused by the fall, then he'll just need to be given some Tylenol for the next few days and it will just have to heal over time by itself.

I wasn't sure exactly how to feel. Was this a good thing? A bad thing? Well, regardless, as I was pondering upon the results, it was a little after 6pm and my hubby, on his way home from work, was calling my cell phone. I had to answer it... but how to tell him!? I answered the phone. "Hi Honey!!!", he said, "How are you?". *Gulp, breathe* "Well... Charlie and I are sitting in the radiology department at the hospital..." And thus the tale began. And the tears again, too. I am so glad to say that I am one lucky lady: He was so kind, patient, and understanding as I described what happened. He was, of course, worried sick... but he didn't think I was an awful mom. Which, I know that sounds silly, but I seriously felt like I was a horrible person, and that everyone else would think so as well.

I let Charlie sleep in my arms a little while longer, and then around 6:30pm, we ventured home. I was so surprised that upon waking, Charlie no longer burst into hysterics! Thank heavens! In fact, he was a little tired and put out, but he never got upset about his injuries again. That night, before bed, we gave him Tylenol. During the night, I woke him up once just to make sure he was still himself and alert. He was happy, smiling, playing... and I felt so much better! In fact, after that night, he never even needed Tylenol!

General Conference was that weekend. It was nice for many reasons, but one additional one being that we didn't have to take him to church on Sunday looking like he had been abused. I probably wouldn't have gone... too many questions and/or assumptions. By Monday, he was completely back to himself, still working on healing up the scratches. We had a followup doctor appointment and all checked out well. I even got to see Charlie's little x-rays! (But darn it, they couldn't print them!... I'll have to go to the hospital sometime to have them printed. I really want copies!)

Thank heavens that my little man seems to be okay. Here's a picture of the healing process over the week following his fall:
But now, just briefly, I want to touch on the subject that many of you have probably been asking since the get-go: "But WHAT happened? What caused him to fall?". I put off writing about this because it's still the hardest thing for me to think about, to admit to, since it really was my fault. We had just gotten back to our apartment from a nice walk around the neighborhood on a beautiful day. I had taken him out of his stroller and was holding him in my right arm. And, knowing it would be tricky, I was trying to load everything back into the car while holding him. And BAM! It happened. He fell backwards over my arm and straight down, face-first into the pavement. Horrifying. And all because I was just trying to do too much at once... not wanting to make a second trip out to the carport. But, sometimes, I guess, we have to learn the hard way. It SUCKS. But now I know: Go put the baby safely in the house first, THEN go load up the car. It's not worth the risk... not to save a few minutes of time.

Not a day goes by that I don't replay that moment in my head. It's a silent memory - his little tiny body hitting the ground without so much as a thud. It's a nightmare. But every day gets better, and every day I heal a little more, and I forgive myself. Again, I'm just SO glad that he's okay. In fact, by now, you can't even tell anything happened really. Except I can. There's a little teeny tiny dent in his head... and sometimes, when I look at him... it's all I can see. For my sanity's sake, I hope that heals up and goes away, because if my child has a little dent in his forehead for the rest of his life, then I'll always always remember what I (accidentally) did to him.

Just learn from me, Moms out there: Take it easy! Don't try to do too much! And, if something like this DOES ever happen to you (heaven forbid!), then just remember that you're not the only one. Over the last week or so, I've had lots of loving mothers remind me of things that have happened to their children, too. Sweet (and sad) reminders that it probably happens more often than we hear about, and not to be so hard on myself. I know that accidents happen, I'm learning to forgive myself, but I truly hope that I can avoid something like this happening again.

I really, truly love my sweet Charlie boy. And I'm so glad to have him here with me, still healthy and happy <3


  1. Oh Alex! I'm so glad Charlie is ok! I totally feel for you, and I know how that goes--trying to do too much cause I don't want to take more time/another trip. Thanks for sharing this, even though I'm sure it must have been hard. We're all trying to do the best we can in raising our little ones and sometimes we make mistakes, but we're still good moms!

  2. I just blogged about the same thing happening to me! http://awkwardlymarisha.blogspot.com/2012/04/mommy-fail.html You wrote your post much more nicely then I did, but I felt the exact same way you described in this post! It is a horrible feeling. One I hope not too many moms have to experience but it seems like most do. I"m sorry you had to go through it too,, so happy Charlie is ok. And you're not a bad mom!

  3. Alex, thanks for sharing! You are in no way a bad mom at all- accidents happen and I'm willing to bet almost every mom has a similar story... still, I know that that has got to be super hard. I hope it gets easier every day. (sounds like it is!)

  4. Your friends are right. This happens to EVERY mom. What I think makes a good mom isn't if she makes mistakes (that's just inevitable) or not, but how she reacts to her mistakes. Do you know how many moms I've met in my day who would have just picked up their baby and kissed their boo boo better, then do nothing else? I mean, you took him to the doctor, then the hospital, and waited for hours just to hear how best to help Charlie. I took Lily and Skyler to the doctor so many times as babies because I always thought something was wrong. It got to the point where we were such frequent visitors I thought the doctors were getting annoyed with me. But it's still worth it. I think parenthood is the best life lesson anyone can ever have. And you're obviously learning and not trying to act perfect. I think you're doing great.

  5. Wow, that is scary! I'm glad he's okay. And definitely don't be too hard on yourself! Like others have said, accidents happen. Lily launched herself out of her Bumbo once when it was sitting up on our dining room table. It was in that transition phase between immobility and mobility. I was stirring something on the stove and I turned around to see her falling head first from the table. It was awful. Thankfully she will never remember that and it isn't so fresh in the mind anymore. Anyway, Charlie's a cutie, scratches and all.

  6. I want you to know that reading about your tears from how you felt made me shed a few.

    You are a wonderful sister and an even better mother, so don't ever think otherwise. We all forgive you, Charlie - I'm sure - forgives you and the Lord forgives all things. Just make sure you forgive yourself, sis.

    Love you, always.

  7. I'm sitting here seriously with tears in my eyes thinking about how you must have felt. Lucy rolled off the the couch onto the unforgiving wymount floors when she was about Charlie's age. I can still hear the thud in my head and shutter when I think about it. She also flung herself backwards while I was holding her once and she slammed the back of her head into the side of the car. Goodness I sound horrible. Unfortunately I have more stories. It gets better though. Heavenly Father sure knew what he was doing when he made babies so darn durable.

  8. Poor Charlie and poor Alex! I'm so glad you are both healing from this experience. If it makes you feel any better, Collin just fell down a hill and fractured his leg in three places, and three days passed before I took him in because I thought it was just a bad sprain :( Maybe it's a good thing they can't remember anything at this age...

  9. This is absolutely one of the most loving, touching posts I have read in a long, long time. You are such a beautiful person - inside and out. You should keep this post forever to help remind Charlie of how much you love him. Also, my mom dropped me when I was a baby when she was picking cherries...and yes I fell right on my face...and no I don't have any brain trauma or emotional trauma at all...at least not from that accident. ;) You are a WONDERFUL mom. I miss you!