It has taken me over a week to decide to post this. I have gone back and forth in my head, struggling with the decision to expose myself to criticism and possible nasty comments for the sake of possibly preventing what has happened from happening even once more to someone else. I decided to go ahead with this post because I feel that prevention is more important than having my feelings or pride hurt more than it already is. So, here goes.
Last Thursday was Grant’s one month birthday. The morning started out fine, breakfast, cuddles, naps… the norm. I took Grant’s one month pictures, and he was adorable as always. Truman and I made banana bread together, (he was super excited to use the Kitchen Aid mixer) with Grant looking on from his bouncy seat on the kitchen table. I popped the bread into the oven, finished up the Christmas projects for the grandparents and decided to start on dishes while I chatted with my sister on the phone. I strapped Truman into his high chair, a wooden restaurant style one, at the kitchen table with a snack, and pushed Grant’s seat out of his reach. As I cleaned up the kitchen, Truman asked me questions and I turned around every few seconds to answer him, give him more food, or refill his sippy cup. I was three feet away from the table. My back was turned to them for a minute or two as I ran water and talked to Emily, and I heard something hit the floor. My first thought was, “What did he throw on the floor? Probably his bowl or cup…” I turned around and saw Grant, still strapped into his bouncy seat, face down on the ceramic tile floor.
I don’t know exactly what happened at that point. I know my stomach fell through the floor. I know I stopped breathing. My sister says I screamed. I remember throwing the phone on the table, but I do not remember how I got him into my arms. Grant was screaming and I noticed the scrape on his forehead first, a little bump with a scrape. I started crying and felt my heart breaking in my chest. Then I noticed the side of his head. It was swollen in an oddly shaped little ridge running above his right ear from front to back. That’s when I think my heart stopped. I was standing in the kitchen holding him and crying, Truman was staring and looked so scared. I knew I had to call Mike and get to the hospital but my feet felt stuck to the floor. I couldn’t decide what to do first. I lay Grant down in the bouncy seat, grabbed Truman and put him in the living room since it is gated and that way he couldn’t get into anything. I picked the baby back up and I called Mike and told him to come home immediately, Grant had fallen and we needed to go to the hospital. I went into the living room with both boys and the only thing I could think to do was nurse the baby. He was crying, I was powerless to stop it. I didn’t know how much movement was safe, so I gently cradled him with my whole body shaking. He latched on and nursed. He calmed down, he stopped screaming, and he just nursed.
Mike got home in record time, but it felt like an hour. He washed Truman up and we hopped in the car. We live two miles from the hospital, and again, it felt like a year before we pulled up in front of the emergency room entrance. I took Grant in and Mike followed with Truman after he parked. They got all of our information and got us into a room, asked the story and got vital signs. The first doctor came in and also asked what happened and then ordered a CT scan. We waited for hours. While we waited we had two other nurses stop in and ask what happened. Grant slept most of the time, Truman sat quietly in his stroller, Mike worried with me and I cried… a lot.
The CT scan was horrible, Grant screamed the entire time. I had to hold his chin to keep his head still and I felt like I was torturing him on top of the torture he was already going through. The results came back fairly quickly. He had a skull fracture. My tiny baby’s head was broken. Thankfully, they saw no bleeding under the fracture and his brain did not seem to be affected. Just to be on the safe side, the hospital arranged for ambulance transfer to Sunrise Children’s hospital for him to be monitored over night. Mike went home to pack my bag and I waited for the ambulance. Two paramedics eventually showed up and asked me what happened. I retold the story for what felt like the one hundredth time. Mike arrived as we were ready to leave, he drove and I rode in the ambulance with Grant.
The paramedic who rode in the back with me seemed uncomfortable. I took it as a sign that he thought I was a terrible person to allow my little baby to be injured like this. Maybe he thought I was abusive. I started feeling sick. My eyes filled with tears, and I just stared at Grant. He finally said, “I’m really sorry that this happened… I have a three month old and a two year old. My son bounces my daughter in the bouncy seat so hard she bottoms out in it. Today he broke our nativity scene! It is made of wood! They’re brutal!” I laughed and felt better knowing he had probably been quiet thinking about how my situation could easily become his situation. He then went over all of the promising signs concerning Grant’s condition. His pupils were dilating equally, he had remained conscious the entire time, he was not vomiting and the scan showed no bleeding. By the time we got to Children’s hospital I felt encouraged.
They had a room waiting for us when we arrived. Two pediatricians stopped in to introduce themselves and ask all of the same questions we’d answered ten times already. The nurse came in and introduced herself. Her name was Erin and she was very sweet, very sympathetic, and told me if I needed anything at all to call her. Mike decided it was best to get Truman home, he hadn’t had dinner and bedtime was only an hour away. When Mike left, the nurse finished settling me in and finished getting Grant all hooked up to his monitors. She had me go downstairs to admitting and promised to watch my baby while I was gone. I filled out paperwork, gave all the insurance information, grabbed a sandwich and came back to the room to find Grant sleeping peacefully and all of my bedding waiting on the couch-bed. It was quiet and dim in the room, Grant was sound asleep and I was alone. The events of the day came crashing down on my head. I sat and sobbed, this time not because I was worried about what had happened, but because the realization of what could have happened kept running through my mind. He could be brain damaged. He could be unconscious. He could be dead. How did Truman reach him? What lasting effect would this have on Truman? Had I said anything to him to make him feel like this wasn’t his fault? As I cried out the rest of the tears in my body, there was a soft knock on the door. A really pretty young woman came in. She introduced herself as Dr. Garg, the attending pediatrician. Then she said the most amazing thing to me.
“Before I say anything, I want you to know that I have two boys. They are nineteen months apart, and when my youngest was six weeks old he fell off of my kitchen island in his bouncy seat, right onto the tile floor. I was five feet away doing dishes. I still don’t have any idea how it happened. He is seven now and completely fine. I’m a doctor and this happened to me. Relax. Your baby is just fine and he is going to be absolutely perfect.” Relief washed over me in the most amazing way. I didn’t feel better about what had happened, but I did feel better knowing that I wasn’t the only parent in the world to make this mistake. I felt like she was the first person I’d encountered that wasn’t silently judging my parental ability, or going to talk about what an idiot I am when they went home home that night. “I will give you a word of advice though. Do not tell Grant that this ever happened. My son throws it in my face all the time. It’s not my fault you dropped me on my head when I was a baby. Don’t tell him!” We talked about the plan, which was to monitor him through the night, have the radiologist double check the scan the next morning and if all was well, we’d go home.
I slept for a few minutes each hour. Hospitals are noisy and people come in and out constantly. Between all of the beeping and talking and feedings, it was a long exhausting night. Mike took Truman to daycare and came to the hospital to wait with me. Erin, my nurse who had shared some funny stories about her seven siblings and their numerous injuries growing up, had to leave in the morning. She hugged me and said she was so happy Grant was fine. I thanked her profusely. Dr. Garg came in and said the radiologist checked the scan and he thought he saw bleeding. Mike and I went back into panic mode and Dr. Garg reassured us that everything was going to be fine. They wanted to do a second CT scan and make sure that the bleed existed before moving forward. We waited again.
Two hours later, while Grant slept soundly, he had a second scan. He never knew it happened. We went back to the room and waited longer. After another two hours, the physician’s assistant from the neurologist’s office came in. She was dry, unfriendly, and took forever to get through the questions before finally letting us know that there was no bleeding. The sense of relief was indescribable. Dr. Garg came in to share in the good news and they gave the green light for us to go home! We were to follow up with the neurologist in three to four weeks.
Truman was so happy to see me when I picked him up from daycare and immediately said, “Baby? Fall?” As he hit his head with his hand. I squeezed him hard and told him the baby did fall, but was fine and waiting in the car for him. He has talked about the baby falling numerous times since. I tell him that accidents happen and he has to be very careful around his brother. He kisses and hugs him constantly, runs to him when he cries and brings him his bobo (pacifier) and blanket. I can only imagine that he stood up and reached for his baby, attempting to pull him close and upset the seat. I know he didn’t do it purposely or maliciously, and I know it was so scary for him to witness. I’ve been worried about his emotional well being along with Grant’s physical well being. This has been traumatic for all of us.
I’m not at all in the business of telling people what to do with their kids. I’m just going to ask that you realize that this crazy shit happens. It happened to me, it happened to Dr. Garg, it happened to our regular pediatrician which I found out at Grant’s one month appointment. In her case it was a niece in a car seat off of a kitchen counter. I read stories online about active babies bouncing enough to “walk” the bouncy seat off of the table. So, I won’t tell you; DON’T PUT YOUR BABY IN A SEAT ON AN ELEVATED SURFACE. I’ll just say that I’m not alone in this and watching your baby suffer through a skull fracture isn’t fun for anyone. I will never forget the feeling I had when I saw him on the floor. I don’t want anyone else to know what that feels like. He wasn’t unattended, and it took seconds. Please, please be safe.