Friday, April 13, 2012

The Incident

I feel like there's no way to avoid this post. Tim posted info on Facebook, forcing me to confront that this happened, instead of running and hiding like I instinctually feel the need to do. Part of me thinks this is some embarrassing incident that you want to sweep under the rug, but I guess that isn't healthy. I know that the incident is out there in the online world.... I might as well embrace and explain it. Perhaps writing this out will be cathartic and healing for me. In any case, here I go.

Warning - this may not be easy to read. I will try and spare you the worst details, but I figured in order for this to be affectively healing I might as well tell the entire story as best as I remember, which honestly is a bit of a blur. If this is too hard for you to read turn away now. Or just scroll to the bottom, look at the pics, and then close up shop!

Wednesday was a normal, happy day. It was a beautiful day and I had some errands to run so I loaded up the boys so we could get going. We sang songs in the car, stopped and had lunch with Tim, took a trip to Target, ran around town, then back home for naps. Tim got home from work and we all played a bit. I had decided that I wanted salad for dinner, so I fed Timmy and Henry first since there's no way my child is going to eat salad! After they were done eating I ran downstairs (that's where our bathtub is) and turned on the bath.

Sidenote - Tim starts a new job on Monday. Earlier in the day he needed Henry's social security number for insurance info. I keep all of our important documents in a firebox in a storage room in the basement. When I went to get it the box was wet for some reason, so I took it into the bathroom and set it on the vanity to dry. A decision I'll live to regret for quite some time.

Anyway back to baths. I loaded the boys into the tub. Timmy said Henry was splashing him too much. At some point I turned around and looked at the box on the vanity. I grabbed the birth certificates and flipped through them. Not reading them, just seeing whose was whose. I turned back around, it wasn't long, seconds... 2? 5? 10? 30? I can't say for sure how long it was because in retrospect time seems to be elongated and shortened at the same time. I turned around and saw the most horrific thing I've ever seen or ever hope to see. Henry had slipped under the water. I grabbed him out. He wasn't breathing. He was purple and was limp. He lost consciousness. I grabbed him out and started screaming for Tim. Screaming for him to call 911. I started hitting Henry on the back, trying to force something to happen He ran downstairs and took Henry from me. I ran upstairs and called 911. By some miracle they answered immediately, I don't even remember the phone ringing. Tim started chest compressions on Henry while I was on the phone, and said he threw up some water downstairs and pooped a bit, but he still wasn't breathing. Our phone doesn't work in the basement so I screamed for him to bring him up while I was on the phone with the 911 operator. At some point I dropped the phone and started mouth to mouth on Henry while Tim continued the chest compressions. I'm not sure how many breaths I did. On one of the first breaths he threw up a lot of water. Was it the first breath? The second? It's hard to say. The next breath he threw up all of his dinner. I might have given him another breath, I'm not sure. He started breathing on his own. I ran out to open the gate for the firemen. I was waving my arms and screaming like a crazy person so they didn't miss the house. Thank God we live literally around the corner from the fire station. I could hear the moment they turned their sirens on and they were here within 30 seconds of leaving the station. They ran in and put oxygen on Henry. He was whimpering at this point, but still unconscious. The next few moments are all a bit foggy. I remember running around. I remember that they said his blood oxygen level was 100% which meant his brain wasn't deprived of oxygen. I remember the firemen went downstairs to get Timmy and then took him up to get his jammies on. I remember someone telling me to try and stay calm. I remember throwing my jeans, a sweatshirt, and shoes on. Finally the ambulance arrived. They'd wrapped Henry in the towel that Timmy was wearing. He was screaming. The most beautiful scream I've ever heard. Tim carried him out to the ambulance and I hopped in as well. We sat there for what felt like forever, but Henry was screaming and I knew he was alive. I was praying he wasn't brain damaged, but figured we'd cross that bridge when we got to it. They told me they were taking us to Children's Hospital which relieved me. We live literally half a mile away, on the same street (they're moving downtown in June so I'm thrilled they were still so close). Some jerk who was irritated that the ambulance was blocking the street came and looked in the back window all pissy. His face changed when he saw how little the patient was. I'm sure he thought it was a drunk homeless person or something, but still.... I wanted to kill him. Eventually we left. We were on our way.

When we got to Children's they were waiting for him. They wheeled him in and immediately a team of doctors and nurses were working on him. There were probably a dozen people in the room. A doctor came to ask me what happened, then a social worker came to try and calm me down. At some point a chaplain came to relieve the social worker which freaked me out. I thought she was there to give him his last rites or something. Turns out she was just there for support until Tim arrived, but I about lost it on her. I'm not sure how long they worked on him. I remember them saying that because he was screaming that his airways were intact. They did a chest x-ray to see if he had water in his lungs. It was clear. They put a diaper on him as he peed on someone. They had him under heat lamps since he had been naked since this happened. I don't think they had to work on him as a team very long as his vitals were all good. Tim arrived. The doctors left for the most part, leaving him with just a nurse. He was ok. He was going to be ok. Henry stopped crying and gave me a big smile. I lost it. The tears that wouldn't come before then came flooding out.

They moved us to a room and kept him overnight. He was cheery and showing off, despite being exhausted, which made me feel so much better, knowing that his little brain hadn't been affected.  He was hooked up to monitors and his vitals were checked hourly. I had to do a mandatory interview with DCFS. It was surreal, but protocol, and one that I'm actually happy is in place. I know that my boys are in a good environment, but I also know there are cases where the kids need someone to intervene, so it's wonderful that the hospital checks every single trauma case for children under 1. Obviously we were cleared, though I did invite them to move in with me until the boys left for college! They did another chest x-ray in the morning to make sure he was ok. Needless to say I didn't sleep that night. I kept flashing back to that first horrific moment. An image I'm that I'm afraid will haunt me for the rest of my life. By the morning Henry was his usual cheery self. Charming the nurses and doctors, playing with toys. Nurses were literally getting other staff members to come and see him because he was so cheery and cute. The x-ray was fine, and by about 10:30 am we were released. We were told throughout this that it only takes one breath in for a baby's lungs to fill up with water. Basically if they fill up they stop breathing. It all happens so quickly. It's terrifying. We were also told many times that accidents happen all of the time and that we saved him by knowing CPR.

Henry is fine. He's perfect. You would never know that this happened by looking at him. I'm not quite so fine. People have been so amazingly supportive and kind, congratulating us for knowing CPR and bringing him back. I don't feel like I deserve any accolades. I should have never turned around, even if it was only for a few seconds. This never should have happened at all. I'm so grateful that we did know CPR, but I hate that we had to use it. I know this will take time for me to get over. I expect that some therapy is in my future. I'm trying to replace that horrifying image with the ones of him smiling at me like he's doing right now. I truly thought we'd lost him... and I'm not sure how to get over that. It's a feeling I hope no one I know ever has to experience, and a feeling that breaks my heart for anyone that I know who has felt it. Other parents who have heard about this have been so honest with me about things that have happened to their kids that they wish they could have prevented. I appreciate the honesty so much as it tells me that accidents do happen. I just try so hard to be a good mom. Super mom. I never thought this would happen to me. Not on my watch. The guilt I'm feeling is tremendous. But I'll get through this, I have to for my boys' sakes. They're both here and healthy, and I'm the luckiest person in the entire world. I truly think someone was looking out for us Wednesday night. I have no doubt that Henry has some angels on his side. He's one lucky baby, and I'm a lucky mom. I'm not sure what I ever did to deserve such a reprieve, but I'll spend the rest of my life trying to make up for it. This is a gift that I won't soon forget.

Ok, so that's it. I apologize if it was tough to read... it was tough to write, and horrific to go through. Just as an aside Timmy has handled the entire situation really well. He was in the bath with Henry, but playing with toys so he didn't notice what happened. He also thought the firemen coming was really fun, he was just bummed they didn't have their hats on! Tim was very matter of fact with him about what happened. Timmy told my mom (who rushed over to stay with Timmy) that Henry fell and swallowed water in the bath and got sick, but that the firemen came and he went in an ambulance to the doctor and is all better now. I'm so happy he isn't traumatized. Both my boys are happy and healthy, and that is all that matters. I have a new perspective. I have my boys and that is all I need.

The happy, but exhausted boy after being moved to his room.

The patient yesterday morning. He looks sick doesn't he?!? ;)

and just to reassure that he's fine I took this pic seriously 1 minute ago - this is Henry here and now!


  1. oh sweetie. i am so sorry you went through that. just reading this made me cry, i cannot fathom actually living it. i told you before & i'll tell you now. YOU, my love, are an incredible mother. i've seen it firsthand & it's beautiful. accidents happen, as tough as it is to face that.

    i love you & am so grateful this story has a happy ending. that boy & his grin? melt me.

    BIG hugs & thoughts for you as you heal from this experience. xoxo

  2. OH Caroline, this whole ordeal just made my stomach churn and my heart hurt...I'm so sorry you had to go through this. Every parent knows that at some point, their child will have an accident and all we can do is pray that it is minor. But, being prepared for the worst and protecting them as best we can is how we carry on and that is EXACTLY what you did! Praying for some peace in your heart/mind and healing from this experience...

  3. I literally sobbed my way through this. Thank you for sharing your story, it took a lot of courage, and it will save lives. So many people are going to take CPR because of your story, Henry didn't go through this in vain. You are both great advocates to save many lives now. Big hugs to you and your family!

  4. Caroline. You are amazing. I am so impressed that you & Tim were able to think & act so quickly to SAVE YOUR SON'S LIFE! YOU did that. <3

    Love you & your boys!

  5. I am so sorry you had to go through this. Oh, I had to fight back tears just reading it; I can't imagine being in your shoes. You are a wonderful mother, Timmy and Henry are so lucky to have you. Henry is fine, perfect, beautiful. What happened could have happened to any one of us. I can't count the times I've stood up from the bath to get a towel out of the linen closet, or turned to the sink for something or other. You really have inspired us to get certified in infant CPR. I hope you are able to come to terms with this soon, and I will keep praying for you.

  6. I'm so sorry you all had to go through that. I can only imagine how you felt in that moment and how you might be beating yourself up now - but that could (and can) happen to any of us. I'm sure we've all turned our back for a moment or ducked our head out the bathroom door to yell to our husband down the hall. I know I have.

    I want to thank you for sharing your story here because it's made me aware of how fast something can happen and that I should give my girls 100% of my attention during bath time. Again, I'm so sorry and am sending my thoughts and prayers to you to help you heal from this.

    And it goes without saying, but that is one cute little boy.

  7. I saw your story on Memo and was compelled to come comment over there. I didn't want my comment to get lost in a crowd on Memo! I am so glad you shared your story- your honesty was so appreciated. You made me realize just how quick things to could happen. I am guilty of the same thing- turning my back for a second when Hayls and Zane are bathing. From reading your post, I will no longer do this ever again.

    Your post brought serious tears to my eyes. What happened to you could have easily happened to anyone of us. I thank you for the bottom of my heart for telling your story.

    You are a FANTASTIC MOMMY and I am so glad that Timmy/Henry have you as their mommy! I am also so glad that Henry is doing great! I was praying for all of you!

  8. Wow, thank you for your honesty. I know I've looked away like that while my Henry has been in the bath. It's easy to forget how quickly something can happen.

    And, you know what, this is the kick in the pants that I needed to sign up for a CPR class. So thank you again.

  9. OH MY GOSH. I was feeling so panicked as I read this! Thank God he's okay. I know it was traumatic for all of you.

  10. Caroline, thank you for sharing this. It truly could have happened to any one us, try not to beat yourself up. We're just happy he's OK! You're an amazing Mommy!!

  11. This is the first time that I have been over to your blog, visiting from These Four No More, but I am so glad that this is the first post I read because I had an accident a few weeks ago and felt like a total idiot and can't stop picturing it every time I think of trip that we took. I'm so glad to know that there are other accidents in the world and that there are other strong mama's who are fully capable of handling their sh*t when it's most important.

    This, of course, means that you have a new follower. Thanks so much for sharing your incident.