Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The What Ifs

One night a couple of months ago, I had just finished giving Colt a bath and had moved on to changing Owen's diaper and getting him into pajamas. Colt was with me in Owen's room while I changed Owen, pulling clothes and diapers out of the drawer for me. We laughed, he was being curious and silly.

When I'd taken him out of the bath that evening, I hadn't drained the water. I dried him off, escorted him to his room to get dressed, and he was by my side when we went to get Owen. It slipped my mind to go back in and drain the water.

He left Owen's room to start bringing me toys from the playroom. And I remember clearly hearing the bathroom door close. I laughed for a minute, knowing it would be mere second before his whining would start and he'd want out. And then I remembered. The water. The bathtub.

The bathroom is literally 3 feet from Owen's room so from the time the door shut to the time I opened the door it was no more than 7 seconds. But when I opened the door, he'd already fallen in, reaching for a toy, and was head down in the water.

My heart stopped. I grabbed him up and he shook with fear but had barely been in the water long enough to get wet. We changed him and he snuggled all night while I cried going over the "what ifs" in my head. It haunted me for weeks.

What if I hadn't been changing Owen's diaper and hadn't heard the bathroom door close? What if I'd played along and waited until I heard him knocking on the door to open it? What if I hadn't remembered in that moment that I'd forgotten to drain the water. What if I was 1 minute late?

You can bet I drain the water before he even gets out of the bathtub now. And eventually I had to stop torturing myself because I know that the what ifs don't matter, it's the what happened and what happened was he was fine.

There was this freak accident with Owen this weekend and I've been throwing around what ifs ever since. I'll try to tell you about it, but it's hard to accurately describe it.

On Sunday Owen fussed ALL DAY. He cried and whined and fussed and never seemed to be content. He pulled his legs up and arched his back and cried like he was in pain all day. Eventually I realized I'd forgotten his morning dose of Zantac and I assumed it was reflux-related. But even after that, he still cried unless we were holding him on our shoulder and standing.

As I prepared him for bed and changed him into jammies, I happened to look down at his feet. To my horror, his "index" toe was dark purple and swollen to the size of his big toe. Upon further inspection, I realized something was wrapped around it.

Owen has small toes, and he scrunches them up very tight. It's gross, but I'm constantly picking fuzz and such out from between his toes all the time. Somehow a fuzz ball had gotten stuck between his toes (I assume from a sock that picked it up in the laundry?) and it had a long hair in the fuzz ball. That hair was wrapped so tightly around his tiny toe that it was slicing through and cutting off the circulation.

I yelled for John and it was an agonizing 5 minutes that we tried to unravel and eventually cut through the hair. Owen was screaming and I was crying as the what ifs started in. What if it's too late and he loses his toe? What if we cut him while getting it off?

As soon as his toe was free, he stopped fussing. It didn't take long for the color to turn pink and the swelling to recede. As he fell asleep in my arms I cried and cried thinking about how he'd been trying to tell me all day that he hurt. And WHAT IF I hadn't looked at his feet? He would have lost his toe. And a toe is pretty important.

Both boys are fine, and what both taught me is that you can prepare and prepare to protect your kids and sometimes things just happen. You do have to be hyper-vigilant to keep the worst from happening but you can't always keep accidents from happening. And Owen...well, that taught me that you can't always prepare for what might happen. I have covers on our outlets, sterilize bottles, tighten and re-tighten car seats every time...but nothing ever prepared me to watch out for a stray hair cutting off circulation in a 4-month-old's toe.

The what ifs can extend a scary moment for a long time in parents. I'm grateful both boys are ok, and just praying I continue to have God guiding me in being their mom.


Anonymous said...

My goodness, Jessica! Wow! How scary on both accounts!

I always struggle to remember to drain the bathwater. It always makes me cringe when I do.

My BF works in the ER of a local childrens hospital and told me to always look for hairs wraping around babies (esp when they start yanking handfuls of it).

Good job saving the day in both situations, mama!

birthmothertalks said...

Thanks for the comment on my blog.I guess I have been out of the loop with what has been happeneing in yoru life because I didn't know that you had TWO kids!!! Wow!!! Congrats on the new baby. Sorry about the scary events. I am glad that both children are ok.

KLTTX said...

How scary. I am tearing up thinking about the "what ifs" that we've experienced.

Melba said...

Oh.my.goodness! These stories both sent chills down my spine and I could so imagine your horror in both situations, it made me want to cry too.

The bathtub thing is SO scary, I'm definitely taking notes on not leaving the water in the tub. It's just one of those things, so easy to do when you're in the thick of getting things done and busy with two kids.

As for the hair wrapped around the toe, I read a similar story once, only the hair was wrapped around the baby's penis. The parents in that situation took him to the ER and he was also OK but...what a fluke occurrence. One you would never even really think of until after it happened or you heard about it.

Household accidents are definitely scary. My sister is an ER nurse and she's always telling me they are the leading cause of death amongst children. Makes me glad we have a small house in which it's easy to hear and monitor C, even when I'm not right there with him. Even so, you're right that you can never be too vigilant or careful.

The thing is, you also have to balance between safety and becoming jumpy/nervous/uptight about everything. I think the realization that I will not be able to protect C. from harm in this crazy world has been one of the most challenging aspects of becoming a mom. It's what we want most, to keep our kids safe...and yet we can't do that 100% of the time.

Ugh. SO, SO scary! I'm so glad your boys are both OK! Hugs for the mama part of you that must still be a little unsettled.


TXMom2B said...

Big hugs! I have a moment I won't even write about, an accident that, amazingly, didn't even lead to injury but I was sure would put him in the ER. Then there was that 103.5 degree fever. Ugh. So scary! Very humbling. Sometimes I'm in awe that any little boy grows up to reach adulthood.