Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The day I thought I'd killed my child.

Josie over at Sleep is for the Weak does an amazing Writing Workshop that I've started taking part in lately.
For this weeks Writing workshop I have chosen the following prompt:

"2. Write about a time when you felt, or you felt someone you loved, was in real danger.".

* * * * *

As some of you will know, my son Daniel was an extremely colicky baby.  I also had severe post-natal depression and his Dad had got called up to Iraq (he is in the Territorial Army) and so mid way though my pregnancy he went off for training.  He only just got home for a couple of days by chance, and caught the emergency c-section birth of our child.  D was in the special care baby unit for a week as he was only 4lbs 4oz when he was born at 38 weeks because of IUGR.

You may think now, that I'm going to talk about fear for his father when he was in Iraq... but I'm not.  Yes I was fearful of him out there, but nothing compared to a certain incident that happened when he was away.

I dropped Daniel down the stairs when he was tiny.  There I've said it.  

It was an accident.  

We lived at home with my parents, thankfully, as he never slept much at all... seemed he liked to doze on and off rather than do the full sleeping thing because of the extreme colic.  Mum, Dad and I used to look after him in stints sometimes through the night when he was really bad.  It was either that or none of us slept whilst he cried the house down.

One morning after a rough night with him I was walking him downstairs, exhausted and zombie-like.  Mum and Dad were in the kitchen getting ready for Mum going to work - Dad always drove her when he was at home.  As I half asleep walked down the stairs, I didn't notice my cat was sat on the stairs.  He must've been fearful that I was going to step on him, so he darted up the stairs - right between my legs.

It happened so fast.

I tripped over the cat between my legs and Daniel FLEW from my arms down the stairs landing at the bottom as I managed to not follow him down the stairs...  Daniel cried.  I screamed.  My parents flew from the kitchen and Dad screamed something bad at me.  I was petrified, and it was all my fault.  

I bolted.  

Yes... I flew from the house and ran down the street in floods of tears thinking the worst, and it was all my fault!  I managed it half way down the hill at the side of our street before the distress meant I could run no further.  My dad run down the street behind me, and took me home.  

We bundled Daniel into his car seat and drove to the hospital with him.  He was breathing, but what damage had been done?  I didn't even think at the time of NOT moving him.  Everyone was in a panic, and distressed and not knowing what to do.  I was also feeling even more like a terrible mother.  I felt bad enough because of the post natal depression and not being able to bond with him.  Now I'd dropped him down the stairs.  What kind of mother could allow that to happen?  They'd take him away from me now for sure.  I was sure they'd been waiting to do that anyway.  The post-natal depression gave me that paranoia, that the medical professionals were all out to get me.  At any time they'd pounce and take D away.  Well, now I'd given them their chance.  Especially if they found out I run away like a child... FROM my child, who may well have been breathing his last breaths.

I'll never forget the shame when I had to say what happened and why we were there... to the receptionist, and probably others in the waiting room who may have heard... and to the doctors...

However their reaction surprised me with "these things happen", "it's not your fault", "don't feel bad" and even "I once had a baby in who rolled off the kitchen worktop when their mummy was changing them", and "Babies are resilient.  They tend to bounce.  If it were you or me we'd have tensed up on the fall down, and that's worse.  Babies however, will bounce as they remain at ease".  They were too kind.  However this made me feel worse.  I didn't
deserve their kindness.  I could have killed him.

Even whilst they were doing their examinations I was expecting social services to come.  I was expecting bad news.  I was expecting that there'd be something wrong with him, and that I caused it.  It was an agonising time.  The fear, the guilt, the paranoia, the sadness, the "what ifs".

When Daniel got the all clear the relief was immense.  He was going to be fine!  

Even as Dad and I walked with D out of the hospital I expected a tap on the shoulder and turn to be confronted by social services!  

I'll never forget that day.

I was petrified for my son.  I thought I'd killed him. 

Definately the scariest moments in my life.

Looking back now, I still feel guilt, but I don't blame myself any more.  I've moved past the post-natal paranoia now, and can look back and see it really was just an accident.  However I am a mother, and so of course, I'll always feel guilty about it... both about dropping him in the first place, but actually more guilt from abandoning him when he needed me most.  But my little boy was fine.  I can't even remember him getting any bruises from his ordeal!  Though I'll always carry some mental bruising from that day.

Louise x


  1. When Maxi was really ill at 4 months old, we were in HDU with a lady who dropped her child down the stairs, he recovered, she sat by his bedside for 3 days with a broken arm and shoulder unset as she couldnt leave him. Guilt was all she cried about, it is the strongest emotion and will outperform all the rest. I am so happy to know all is ok. I also know of another 4 people who have done the same thing

  2. Phew!.. we all know you are a great Mum from what you 'tweet' x Weeman was very colicky, I know what you went through. He spent time in hospital as well, platelletes or some such. Was heartbreaking seeing them take blood from wee tiny hand. It's tough being a parent at times, but love pulls us through. X

  3. Thank you MadHouse. Yes it's not uncommon thing and I'm so glad he was okay, I can totally understand that Mum's guilt from dropping her child, who ended up with broken bones as a result. The guilt would've been so powerful. We're supposed to protect, not put in harm and danger. But unfortunately accidents will happen =(

    Thank you Jock! That was a kind comment =) Love indeed will get us through the tough times.

  4. Brave post, and one I'm sure every (honest) parent can both empathise and sympathise with. Thank goodness he was ok!

  5. Oh, it's so scary to do something like that. I fell down the stairs with LM in my arms when he was a baby.

    On the other hand, my father managed to make me slide out of a swing when I was a few months old.

    You have been tagged at mine -

  6. What a brave story to share, I once fell over while holding my little boy and I was terrified I had hurt him.

    Glad everything turned out OK ;-)

  7. My little one rolled off a bed onto a carpeted floor. It wasn't a big drop. I had wedged her in cushions. I looked away for a second. I was mortified. I ran upstairs with her to my hubby who was on the treadmill. By that time she'd stopped crying but I hadn't. She was fine. As they say, babies seem to bounce. Thanx for sharing, very brave.

  8. Very brave to share that, my heart was in my mouth even though I know he's ok! I can't even imagine how terrified you must have been *hugs*

  9. oh honey, my heart was in my throat and I knew the ending to the story lol. Thanks for sharing this!

  10. You are exceptionally brave for sharing this and clearly very strong now, even if you may not always feel that. Its something else to be able to share tat with the world. Glad is all is well with you both now. *big hugs*

  11. a wonderfully brave an honest post and so well written. thank you for sharing it with us. xx

  12. Thank you ladies for your lovely comments.

    I feel like a totally different person these days... I can look back now and think, good god you were in further than you thought woman! Before I got my ante-natal and post-natal depression I'm actually embarrassed to admit I didn't really BELIEVE in depression! Now I just love to speak about it... I want to help break down the barriers however I can!

    I don't edit any of my posts, so often feel like they're rambling! (as I do when I'm speaking not writing lol). But I never edited any of my uni assignments, nor proof read any and always managed to pass okay hehe. I'm terrible!

  13. Just had to reply before eating my tea, well done for posting about this, I turned my back when bear was tiny and he fell from cot top changer, it's heart breaking you feel awful, but they do bounce!
    Like others have said, you sound like a brilliant mum and well done for working so hard at it all x

  14. I dropped my daughter from her cot once because I was so tired. She was ok and really seemed to enjoy the middle of the night trip to hospital! I'd have been so scared if I'd dropped her down a flight of stairs, even though I do know that babies are bouncy. One of the scaries movie scenes I know is the baby pram rolling down the stairs of Odessa in Battleship Potemkin. I'm very glad you're both ok! Thank you for sharing that story.

  15. I think as parents we've all been there. Maybe not the stairs, but letting them roll off a bed or dropping them or (the one I'm famous for) walking their little heads right into a doorframe.
    It's too bad your father screamed at you as maybe you would have handled it otherwise. But it's a good thing he brought you back.
    I can't even imagine how bad it must feel to have that kind of depression. I've been having a tough time lately with PMS depression. I can't imagine going through that with a new baby and sleep deprived.
    At least you admitted what you had done and brought him to the hospital.
    I've known a few that have done similar and then hid it and not taken their baby to the hospital.
    Very brave of you to share. But really, we've all done it. Between my three kids I think I've dropped, thrown, or let them roll more times than I can count. It is fortunate that they bounce.