I’ve never written about this day.
Sure, I’ve talked about it often. I’ve spoken in front of moms groups or chatted with other moms and dads about that late June day in 2007. I’ve shared statistics about the number of kids that fall from windows annually (which is upward of five thousand) and how windows now days are made for the screens to pop out in case of a fire.
But I’ve never written about it.
Until I received an email from a reader asking me for advice on how to console a friend of hers who almost lost her daughter to an accidental drowning and was wrestling with almost inconsolable guilt.
I understand that guilt. That shock of having something happen to the little ones you love – the little ones you’d jump in front of a moving truck to save – the ones you stay up all night – those ones. And then, then when the unfathomable happens and once the dust settles there is this moment of gut crushing, racking sobs worst parent in the world feeling of guilt.
You love them.
It was eight years ago.
The evening before we went on our annual trip to the lake. I was busy – you know the crazy kind of busy that one gets before they pack up their family and trek to a cabin that is much too small and yet you have to pack enough stuff to survive for a month? That kind of busy. So on that night I went into the upstairs bedroom to change a diaper and noticed that the room was a bit, well shall we say, smelly.
So I decided at that moment to open the window just a bit more.
This room had a bed near the window – a bed that had six inches of it under the window sill. I always was nervous about that and never ever opened the window more than two to three inches. But this day I was in a hurry – that packing, trying to get everything ready, hurry. And as I pulled the window open twelve inches or so I had that little voice – oh how we should pay attention to that little voice that whispered what if Caleb falls from the window? – and yet I just opened the window and moved on with the busy.
We were all moving around.
Busy and crazy and the kids were up in that room playing – Caleb who was just under two and Brennan who was four and my older girls – and we were packing. And in that moment after that diaper change and pulling of the window open, I decided, on a whim, that I was going to quick move the sprinkler in the front yard. I had the sprinklers running because we were in the middle of a drought and we were going to be gone for a week and for some reason the green grass was important.
It should only take two minutes, right, to quick move that thing?
I told the kids I would be right back and to keep playing blocks and told the older girls and ran down the stairs, out the door and to the whirring sprinkler pulsating away.
Well, I only made it to my mailbox where the sprinkler was and heard a noise – a soft not normal thud – and then saw my screen fluttering to the ground in slow motion to the ground ten feet below.
Oh, knife in the heart, I knew.
Even in writing this that feeling of horror comes back and my pulse quickens.
Oh sweet moms and dads who have dealt with tragedies you know that feeling. That pit in your stomach you can hardly move feeling of horror and as I ran to that spot I tried to scream but I couldn’t. And there he was, blue and not breathing and on the ground two inches from rocks that line my flower beds resting there.
The screams came then.
Screams and those words of no no no not now emerged from me as I knelt over my lifeless toddler.
Neighbors came running and 911 was called and to this day I believe in angels because as it happened my neighbor who is a sheriff drove down the street and saw it all happen and gave the testimony and so forth to all the sheriffs and paramedics who came because I was in shock. He came running up and knew that we couldn’t move him but ran with oxygen from his squad car and put it on Caleb.
It was so fast, my friends, so fast.
That’s the nature of tragedies and accidents. They’re fast. Unexpected. Think of every one that you’ve read – it happens in the second and one is never ever prepared. And in tragedies and accidents is never a qualifier of parental worth. Never.
The next thing I know and I was in an ambulance racing down to the level one trauma hospital with Caleb. They had him on a back board and his numbers were stable and were given him oxygen. He had woken up at that point and they were working on him and I was in shock and just praying that his brain wasn’t damaged. I knew he was alive – I didn’t even know that when I found him – but now, now I didn’t know if he’d be the same. The fear was intense.
And in that moment of fear I had the beginnings of tremendous bone crushing guilt.
I am so sorry – I cried it over and over and over while I rocked my boy (this phrasing caused someone to question this story – which is so sad to me – rocked is an expression, perhaps the wrong words, but I remember holding him and leaning over him and rocking him the best way us moms do in the moment) while looking out the back of the ambulance windows watching cars pull over and then realizing they were pulling over for me. I think ever since then I’ve told my kids to utter a prayer when they see an ambulance pass because the person in the back of that racing van needs so much prayer and hope at that point.
We raced into the hospital – no waiting – and they ran us on that gurney back to the emergency room. There was no paperwork time, no nothing, and before I knew it Caleb was in the back getting a ct scan and I was on the floor crying. Crying and crying and crying.
What I didn’t tell you yet was that by this point I knew his brain was okay. We had been sitting in the er with him on my lap and he looked down at his yellow shirt with the Batman logo on it and started singing the nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah batman! song over and over. He was my boy – you know how you just know? I knew he was okay, but now we just had to wait to see if internally everything was okay as well. And by then the cat scan came back normal. And he was good.
And after four hours or so they were going to let us go.
And I, while so grateful, felt like the absolute worst mom in the entire world.
They must have seen it. Felt it. Dealt with it (shall we go back to the stats and number of kids who accidentally fall from windows?). I just wanted to say again and again and again that I was a good mom and that I loved my kids and that I was so so so sorry.
And in that moment mixed with gratitude and grief the kind emergency room doctor walked in, saw me rocking my sweet Caleb, looked at me and said:
I just want you to know that you are a good mom. You are a great mom. These things happen. They are accidents and they don’t mean you are not a good mom. Please remember that.
And then he walked out.
A good mom.
Did you hear that?
He told me I was a good mom. Me the mom who made a mistake. Me the mom who was so angry at herself. Me the mom who felt like she was the worst. Me.
How did I deserve those words?
I know that there are so many of you who have dealt with horribly hard accidents or that know another mom or dad that is racked with that same guilt. I know. I get emails and emails and emails from you all. And for some reason today was the day to write my story and to tell you those words from the doctor.
If I could go back and change it I would. I would have let the room stay stinky or I would have picked up that 22 month old of mine and put him on my hip for the two minutes it would have taken to shove the sprinkler to the front side of the lawn. I would have done everything different. In fact, for days afterwards, when we were up at the lake I was in shock and would just cry and cry and cry. That’s grief. That’s normal. To all of who you have dealt with any of this – know know know that crying and grief and replaying it is normal.
So today, today my Caleb is nine (that’s him with his brother Elijah who I was 34 weeks pregnant with when this happened). We’re going to the lake in a couple weeks and this year will be the 8th year since that fall – my siblings still ask him if he jumped from a window again this year. He doesn’t like heights and part of me thinks it’s from that moment. And he’s as smart as a whip and kind and one of the most caring kids that I’ve known. He’ll give up his good stuff for someone else to make them happy and he’s the one that tells me almost every single day you’re a good mom, mom. It’s like in some way he’s been given the role in life to tell me even when I feel the opposite.
And I figured if eight years have passed it’s finally time to write and share about it. First, and of course, to bring awareness to the dangers of upper story windows – especially in newer homes because of fire codes. Be careful with furniture placed by them. We were lucky, by the way. Do you remember how I said it was a drought? Well, my yard right where he fell was soft and mushy because the sprinkler that was running at that point dripped and water ran down the hose and pooled a bit in that spot. And lucky that he missed those rocks (those rocks still bring nightmares to my brain). And lucky that the sheriff was there right then. And lucky that the paramedics arrived in five minutes. But that’s not why I’m writing.
I’m really writing to bring a bit of hope.
To be a voice for all of you who have dealt with accidents and wrestle with guilt. To let you hear those words of that Minneapolis, Minnesota emergency room doctor who took two minutes out of his busy schedule to come in a room with a crying mom rocking her toddler and to tell her the truth.
Because sometimes we all need to hear the truth.
Time moves on. And we learn. We become a voice. We fight. And we learn to forgive.
Yes, ourselves. That horrible evening was an accident.
And that doctor was right.
I was a good mom.
And to all of you – you are too.
You are a good mom and a good dad.
Please remember that.
ps. Accidents can happen to anyone. Any parent. No matter how many safety protocols and everything you have in place. I have outlet covers and safe guards and carseats belted in and so on. An accident is exactly that – an accident. In those moments the most important thing one can do for a friend is love – not judge, listen – not fix, learn – and share.
pss. And thank you for sharing this story. That matters to me too. Maybe we’ll save a life by bringing awareness to windows and falls. And that matters most.
I’m crying, actually crying…this is so sad and so beautiful. We all make mistakes, all of us. You have a beautiful boy who look very happy and you are a good mother.
I’m so grateful for this post. I dropped my son when he was 2 mobths old out of his car seat (we were just relaxing in the yard while my 2 year old played) while I was carrying him inside. we were flown by helicopter to John’s Hopkins and I’ll never forget feeling like the worst mom ever and yet he was flirting with the trama nurses. He’s a huge dare devil to this day and walked away that day without a scratch. The sound of him hitting the cement floor still haunts me. I still say he makes his angels work over time. Thank you for all your words!
Did you have to deal with child services. We’re going through something like that and I wanted know if you had to deal with social worker.
Same, and now the police are pressing criminal charges against me, and in my situation I didnt even know the window was open I had actually closed it within the last hour of the incident but my wife opened it again because she was hot.
Wow, this story hit home for me because my little sister nearly drowned when I was 10 years old. We were at a family gathering and everyone was getting ready to eat and my mom noticed my 2 year old sister was missing. It was took maybe 30 seconds for her to disappear. She had gone outside through a locked screen door and by the time we found her she was floating face down and needed CPR. Thank goodness someone who knew CPR was there and in the end she was miraculously OK! But I still remember my mom’s reaction and how she beat herself up for a long time. It could happen to ANYONE. I think that is the absolute hardest thing about being a mom is the moment you realize that no matter how hard you try, something scary can happen. We all just keep doing the best we can and love our children and hope and pray they are safe.
Thank you so much.
I have a very similar story…http://hamfam00.wordpress.com/2014/05/07/the-scariest-day-of-my-life/
Having 4 kids 5 and under makes me nuts. Then I read stories like these and I remember how important these little kids are. I cried too, reading this. And rechecked out Windows…sure enough…one of them needed attention.
My neighbor and friend had an accident last year. Her little one was without oxygen 25 min. And was under water 3 min. She’s fighting for her life now, She’s still with us, against doctors suggestion. but I’ve never seen such faith in Christ from such a loving mother. I pray multiple times a day for her and that sweet little one. I know my prayers will be answered. It’s been a year. Crying again. Love to you all moms. There is no tragedy in accident or death because of what Christ did! Prayers for you all!
I’m confused…you said they had him on a backboard racing down the hallways, but then you described yourself rocking him and crying in the back of the ambulance??
Is this a true story?
Yes, yes, completely true. I’m actually surprised that you would question it. In the ambulance, he was on a back board for his neck and when they brought us in the hospital I was sitting on it holding him. I’m sorry my words made you question my integrity in that way.
i want to thank you for sharing your story. I almost drown in my Aunt’s pool when I was nine. My Aunt and cousins could hear me screaming but thought I was playing. My brother heard me and knew I was drowning. He was several doors away. I will never forget sensing him diving over the side of the pool. He saved my life. But I replied to tell you how grateful and relieved I am to hear that your son survived. I held my breathe through your entire story. I grew up to become a nurse. I worked in the pediatric ICU for a brief period of time. One of my cases was a little girl who was throwing candy out the window to her friends below and fell. She did hit concrete and despite the doctors best efforts she did not survive. I will be haunted for life by the screams of this mother when she was brought in to see her daughter. I will be haunted by the guilt that she must feel even to this day for something she never could have foreseen. No one ever blamed her. No one ever said “She should have..” She was never judged. It was an accident. A horrible accident. It is those cases of obvious abuse that kill us and leave us with anger that we can never express. The parents that swear that the dog knocked the child down the steps when the child has a shoe print on their stomach. I am so gloriously happy to hear that your boy survived and is doing well. As a nurse, this is the kind of story that makes my day. You are a wonderful mother. And I don’t have to tell you to hug your kids everyday and tell them how much you love them. Because you understand. May your guardian angel always watch over you and your family. God Bless.
Anneette — simply thank you. Your comment brought me to tears. I am so thankful for the time you took to encourage me. May you be richly blessed in all you do. I am so grateful for that.
I think your words were quite clear. I’ve learned the hard way that people hear/read what they want to hear/read. It’s a reflection on them, not you.
“rocked is an expression, perhaps the wrong words, but I remember holding him and leaning over him and rocking him the best way us moms do in the moment” <— that explains it 🙂 You must have missed that line.
Sharon, how dare you. You must obviously not be a parent. To ask such an insensitive question, I’m sorry, you must be perfect.
Thank you so so much for this. It’s been 36 years since my then 3 year old daughter feel into a creek in our back yard. We were in the process of moving to a new house and I was packing. I thought she was next door playing with the neighbor girl (who was quite a bit older than she). Suddenly, I heard her crying. I ran outside and she was walking down the sidewalk dripping wet from head to foot. I didn’t even know she was by the creek. Thank God she was OK, but I wasn’t. What kind of horrible mother was I? She could have drowned and I wasn’t watching her. The what if’s were horrible and I was crippled with guilt. It took me a long long long time to forgive myself. If I think about it too long, I can still feel how horrible I felt that day…and it can still make me cry.
I drowned at 3 years old too. It’s just an exciting story I get to tell now! Mum’s can’t do everything all at once. I don’t blame my mum at all nor think she is horrible. I hope you managed to find your peace with it <3
Ty for this post. It’s sweet that your son still encourages u by telling u that u r a good mom. We need all the encouraging we can get!
Thank you for sharing your horribly scary experience. I am typing through tears. Reading this brought back a similar, but less traumatic, thing that happened years ago when I grabbed my youngest daughter’s feet as she was dangling out of my second floor bedroom window. She climbed on a cedar chest and struggled to open the window, but she wanted to talk to the neighbor girl. Below my window was a brick patio.
Later, our doctor asked her if she wasn’t afraid that she might fall. My daughter said that she figured that God would send an angel if she fell.
It only takes a minute…or less. Accidents happen. I’m glad both yours and mine had a happy ending. I know two families who were not as lucky as you and I.
What a miracle that he was ok! And, that doctor, wow! Now that is a good doctor. I was doing ok while reading until I got to what the doctor said and then the tears came! There has never been a terrible accident like this with my kiddos, but, my youngest (at 4 years old) was diagnosed with a condition that put him in a wheelchair for several months, and after that limited his activities to walking. So, no jumping, running, etc. At 5 he needed surgery on his hip. At 8 years old he has no limit on his activities, but, struggles with leg coordination and he still has pain every now and again. His hip will heal completely in a few years, but, there is probability that he will need another surgery. And, most with his condition end up with early arthritis and hip replacement around 50 year old.
While I know that I could not prevent this there is still that guilt. Why? I think it comes from wanting to protect our children and then the realization that we can’t protect them from everything.
Thank you so much for sharing this. I know exactly what you are talking about. Just a couple of weeks ago one of my 2 year old twins fell out of our window about 12 feet onto dirt because our yard isn’t done. I had opened the window about two inches. The screen didn’t even come out, only the lower corner was popped out, just enough for him to slip out. I was in the dining room while all four boys were playing and then I heard crying outside. I know that horrible feeling you shared because I knew the boys were all inside. I ran outside and saw my little Vinny laying on his stomach under the window. I remember just screaming “oh my god” and racing down and scooping him up and my amazing 9 year old loaded his other brothers into the car while I called for someone to meet me at the ER because my husband was out of cell phone service on a trip. I sped to the hospital the whole time talking to Vinny and having all his brothers talk to him too. My cousin met me at the ER to take the boys and I remember sobbing to him “how could I let this happen” over and over again.
After 3-4 hours in the ER, and X-rays, cat scans, ultrasounds and suckers they sent us home and I am still amazed that he only had a concussion! Several of the nurses told me the same thing, that accidents happen, but the guilt is horrible. I don’t know what I would’ve done had it not turned out the way it did.
So thank you again for sharing, for the window safety aspect and the guilt aspect.
Last summer my neighbors son was watching my kids play from his wide open bedroom window. He kept pressing his face on the screen. I told him to get back but he wouldn’t listen so I sent my husband to ring the doorbell while I watched from below. I was terrified he would fall through. Luckily his mom ran right up and then instead opened the window at the top where he couldn’t reach.
I almost lost my 2year old this year. I wrote about it to work through it. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for sharing. You are so right about accidents. I don’t have the falling story, but I have an overdose of Tylenol story, which luckily turned out okay too. The poison control nurse took the time to call me back and tell me that same thing too.
Praying for all the good doctors and nurses in when accidents happen.
Thank you for this story and how the doctor’s words touched you. I am a pediatric emergency physician and see accidents like this regularly, some with not so good outcomes. And I try to comfort families in this way as much as possible. Thank you for reminding me how important this is and how I should always take the time to remind parents of how wonderful they are! (I also have two preschoolers, one who rolled off the bed as a baby and broke her leg. So I can understand the horrible feelings too . . .)
I’m reading these words with tears streaming because although this is your story, it’s my story too. I’ve casually mentioned the accident to friends but never have found the courage to actually speak the story. Thank you for this. This coming Thursday, June 25, will be the 9th year since our youngest fell from our second story window. It will also be his 12th birthday. His third birthday, the day of his fall, will be forever etched in this mama’s memory. I’m grateful every minute of every day that our accident has a happy ending.
Thank you for your story.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. The same thing happened to MY Caleb at the same age. My four year-old ran into my newborn twins’ room while I was changing a diaper to tell me that Caleb had fallen out of the window. So so fast, and yet, that 15ft. run to that window seemed like forever and we were so fortunate that he had fallen on top of the roof to the screened porch and he was not hurt at all, just scared. I remember grabbing his arm and pulling him back up, then holding him and his brother (who I had knocked over when I rushed to the window) for about 10 minutes rocking and crying, so shaken up! That was 13 years ago now, and we have joked about it through the years, but I will never forget that moment of terror and that sinking realization of how very, very quickly something can happen to your babies. I will always be grateful to God for his kind Grace that day!
We had a tragedy in my Mama’s back yard which ended in the death of our 8 yr old son. For many months I wrestled with the guilt of not protecting him. One day I realized I was not a perfect mother, I am not a perfect mother and I will not be a perfect mother and that is why Jesus died for me. The guilt left me that day and has not returned.
What an incredibly hard story to share. Thank you for being so brave by putting it out there. As parents we do so much to protect them, but accidents will still happen. But those accidents are out of our control. You are a good mom. I’m so glad that your son is alright.
Thank you for this. My daughter severely burned her finger just after her first birthday on a vaporizer. We went through a lot of doctors to finally get the correct specialist for her, but I felt so judged all along the way. She recently had to have a skin graft – about five months after the burn. The night before her surgery, I still was crying that she had to go through the surgery and how “if only” I had watched her closer, she would have her still perfect little hand, and not a scar-covered one. She still has her bandages from the surgery and still have to remind myself that it was an accident doesn’t mean I was a bad mom when it happened.
I cannot even imagine. Having lived in 2nd floor apartments for quite a while it was always my fear. I screwed pressure gates to each and every window that was accessible to the kids. We had concrete under us. I would still have nightmares of it happening. Thank goodness it never did but I have had a FEW scares with each one of my kids. Every single time I would be wracked with guilt. There are still things that I think back on to this day and I am still overwhelmed with guilt. I don’t think it ever goes away.
Thank you for sharing your story. For putting yourself out there. You make me feel like I am not alone in this motherhood thing.
So many emotions come to the surface as I read this. Less than a year ago our almost two year old son fell out the second story window. I can relate to the guilt, terror, screaming, praying. I had left the room to get a diaper, literally under a minute was all it took. Like you said it happens so fast. After numerous tests and five days in the hospital he got to come home. He had multiple skull fractures and a little bleeding on the brain, but no other broken bones. His head swelled twice it’s size and he had quite the shiner! But the Lord was merciful and gracious and he is our miracle boy, with no complications. The one thing I appreciated most from the nurses and doctors were the same thing they told you don’t feel guilty, it was an accident. Some days it all comes flooding back and I struggle with the guilt, but God is greater!
Your story has me in tears. I know exactly how you felt that day. 3 years ago (this last St Patrick’s day) we had an accident just like this. My son, who was 3 at the time, fell from his 2nd story bedroom window into a concrete patio below. He only cried for a few minutes because they had to sedate him with ketamine. We were at a level 2 teams center and it was quickly decided that he needed to go to a larger children’s trauma hospital. By the grace of God, he “only” had a severely fractured femur and a buckle fracture in his wrist. 2 surgeries, 8 wks in a chest to toe cast and 3 years later, he, thankfully, only has a little scar to show. I, on the other hand, still wake up in a cold sweat, constantly reliving seeing my child fall 15 feet. I have been a huge advocate since then on child proofing windows. It saddens me how common this is and that so many other families have to live through this pain.
The doctor’s words got me started crying and I just. can’t. stop. What a wonderful listening-to-his-gut and responding-with-his-heart thing for that doctor to do for you. The warmth of that moment is intense. I’m so very sorry that you went through that and so thrilled it turned out so beautifully. Caleb sounds like a wonderful boy with a good soul. In my role as a mother, I really lost my way when we moved 700 miles away from my very supportive and involved family. I think I just kind of broke (emotionally? spiritually?) and just haven’t had enough to give. My kids are everything to me, I love them so much. Having them saved my life. Literally. But I’m really not proud of the last nine years. A big part of it is that I ROCK with little kids and teenagers are hard and scary. So sure, there’s some of that. The difficulty of raising smoldering, ornery buckets of hormones. But I could’ve done better somehow. Not sure how, but somehow.
Okay, I will quit blogging in your comments now. LOL Your soul-baring stories always make me wonder and think and feel and remember and worry and be happy and be proud and all of those million swirlings of emotions we feel as mothers. Thank you for your openness. It’s a beautiful thing.
My parents were taking my husband and I to Alaska on a cruise. We were also taking our nursing baby but our two toddlers aged 4 and 2 were going to stay with their grandparents who lived 1 mile down the road. It was a 2 lane blacktop road in the country with blind curves and a 55 mile per hour speed limit. The children were relentlessly pestering me to take them to grandma’s but I was packing. I told them as soon as I finished packing I would take them. Then it was quiet. Lovely peace and quiet. I packed in peace and when I finished, I looked around for the children. They were gone. Not playing in the yard, not hiding in their rooms. Not visible on the road. I called my husband. I called his parents. We got in cars and drove around. I sobbed. I clutched my heart. I asked myself why packing was more important than paying attention to my children. We were going to miss our flight. I only cared about finding the children. A few hours later a neighbor called another neighbor who was helping us search, saying they had some children in their home having snacks and thought they were trying to find the parents. The kids had decided to walk to grandma’s without me and the neighbor halfway down brought them inside instead. Thank GOD they were safe! I only wish they had called sooner!
Oh, scary. Mi remember when we had just rented one of those two story a-frame cottages on a lake. My then two year old and I were checking out the rooms upstairs in a flurry of excitement while my husband was below in the driveway paying the lady. My child climbed t the top bunk and was leaning against a window I didn’t realize was open, she yelled hi Daddy! And I looked up at her just as I saw the screen pop forward with my girl leaning against it. I was able to get there in time and look way below at the gravel driveway. Now whenever we go to a new place I am looking for dangers and fixing them as we go.
What a wonderful/horrific post. I want to say wonderful because it is just so real and needs to be shared (thank you for digging up those painful memories for us) and yet it is horrific because the thought of our kids getting hurt is debilitating.
I live in Spain and we just bought a house (here it is a house but it’s more like an apartment/condo/flat). We live on the 7th floor and this is something we think about. We are replacing all the windows (so they are energy efficient, block out sound and safer) but we are lucky as the old windows are double glassed so we never open both pains on the same side. We always open one side a bit and the other side a bit.
I can not even imagine if my son (3 years old) fell from a window here.
Thank you for sharing your horror and also for making it real.
*Move furniture away from windows.
*Better safe than sorry…but in the end accidents do happen.
That Dr. is amazing.
I just stumbled upon this article because my three-year-old daughter fell from a first story window last night. We were at a Christmas party with our friends from the church. All of the children were playing happily in the living room and one of the other moms was watching them. I wanted to be in there, but I felt like I was always such a helicopter mom, so I felt a tug that I needed to just let her be a kid. We were wrapping up the gift exchange when I heard a familiar cry and my heart sank. Was that cry coming from outside? Suddenly the mom watching them darts outside and runs in with my screaming daughter in her arms, “she fell out of the window.” I asked her to repeat it because I didn’t even understand it. I was calm, took her to the bathroom, and my friend who is an ER nurse rushed in and checked her out. I asked my little girl multiple times if everything was okay, and in the midst of her tears I could finally understand why she was crying — she was upset because her Christmas dress and hands, feet, etc. were dirty. I rinsed her off and she calmed down. I know God was protecting her, because when we left, I saw that she landed barely an inch away from the concrete and metal around the drain field. Accidents happen and I’m just so thankful she is okay.
Thanks for sharing your story, so I know this happens.
You are so welcome, Brittany.
I’m a dad wrestling with the same guilt from a very similar story. 2 weekends ago today my 2 year old daughter fell approximately 15 feet onto a concrete patio from our bedroom window. She was on the night stand and I had opened the window too wide hours before when I was telling my older daughter and a friend to stop doing something I did not approve of. Seems so trivial now. When it happened, I was standing 3 feet from her trying to change into a more comfortable pair of shorts because I was taking her to chick fil a since her big sis was at a sleepover and mom was going to co-workers birthday party. I heard the screen pop and I so desperately reached for her but just barely caught the end of the skirt she was wearing. In memory it almost seems like slow motion as the shock set in that I just let my little girl fall through a window. In that short moment I felt that heart sinking feeling as I yelled to my wife that our daughter just fell through the windows. As my wife raced behind me screaming my name I couldn’t help but think how horrible a father I was that I allowed her to be in that position a days couldn’t save her. I then raced behind the ambulance as my wife road with our daughter. I too collapsed crying on the ER floor. I told a pastor what I was feeling and he was the first of many to tell me it wasn’t my fault….but oh….the guilt is so overwhelming and painful. That isnmy it the girl out there in the ER!! She ended up shattering her ankle, fracturing her hip, and had cracks in her skull with some swelling, bleeding, and contusions. I was so scared we would never have our girl back. 2 weeks later, by the grace of God, she is sitting next to me talking and laughing but wearing hip spica for 6 weeks for the hip fracture and screws in her ankle. The guilt is still there and probably always will be.
WOW thank you SO much for posting this. I’ve recently realized that, unfortunately, things like this happen more often than people talk about. My son was born via c-section 8 1/2 weeks ago after a failed vacuum delivery and 4 hours of pushing. He has a lot of tightness and tension in his neck as a result of the birthing process and flings his head and neck back unexpectedly. 5 1/2 weeks ago I was holding him against my shoulder and he suddenly flung his head with a lot of force and slipped out of my arms hitting his head on our hardwood floors. He has a large skull fracture but, unbelievably no brain damage (no bleeding or swelling) and never lost consciousness. The guilt has been unbearable – if I was only holding him more tightly. I have trouble sleeping as that moment of his tiny body on the floor screaming is forever burned in my mind. I know I’ll never fully get over it but I hope that these moments will serve to make us better in the future in all aspects of our lives as we recognize the fragility of life itself. The doctors in the hospital could not have been nicer or more reassuring either, they told us that they see hundreds, HUNDREDS, of cases like this a year. It doesn’t make it any easier but it helps us to remember that we’re not alone. Thanks again for sharing and many blessings to your family and beautiful boys.
Just wanted to say thank you. We had a traumatic experience today and despite doctor’s sending us home without treatment, I feel both blessed to have been so lucky and horribly guilty that it could be my fault. What if I would have grabbed her in time? What if I would have insisted on carrying her? What if we would have driven instead? I don’t know that I will ever forget the terror of that moment but I hope that I don’t let it define me as a mother.
I just found this today, after a neighbor beat on my door to let MW know my 3, and 18 month old were throwing toys from our third story window.
They were upstairs screaming at each other as usual when I went to make myself some toast when she banged on the door, and I assumed that my son had opened the window and the child stoppers had caught it and they were just pushing toys out.
I ran upstairs to find my three year old had climbed up and figured out the lock, the stoppers on both sides and how to lift up the sliding screen.
I’ve been crying all day at the “could haves” of them falling 25 feet onto our driveway.
Thanks for sharing. I’m not a mum BUT I am a child who drowned in a pool at 3 years old because my mum let me wander off alone. Thankfully I was recused by a passer-by who thought it was strange the ice on the pool was moving so much and went to investigate. I was navy blue. My heart had stopped. But I turned out ok!! I dont even have a fear of swimming – i love swimming! Let your friend know that it’s all ok. It’s just a funny story now. Accidents happen! x
Feeling horrible guilty because my 4 year old girl almost fell out of a 2nd story window onto a curbed concrete. I think it would have likely died. Luckily I had just (a moment before) walked into the room caught her before she fell. Normally the window is not open all the way and she never had even tried to climb her way up to it. I feel sick to my stomach that she could have died today and that by a true miracle I was able to stop her.
Oh my goodness…sending you love….those moments are truly angel moments. I’m glad she is okay. You are a great mom.
[…] I want to share a story with you written by a wonderful, dedicated Mom, who for a short moment dashed from her kids to move the sprinkler and what followed : https://findingjoy.net/the-day-my-toddler-fell-from-the-window/#.XoSswYgzbIU […]