That blissful summer day began with the drumming sound of my husband’s morning shower. My one-year-old son had already snuggled up next to me in my bed for a cuddle. His seven-year-old brother was right behind him.
I had no idea this perfect morning would end with constant flashbacks of my baby boy’s eyes rolling back in his head and the children’s hospital emergency room.
But, I learned a few things about head injuries that day that every parent needs to know. I am thankful that ours was not serious.
I had a rare day off work and the start of the school year was still a couple weeks away. It was time for some mommy-son bonding.
Ethan, Luke and I spent the morning watching cartoons, playing tickle monster, and reading stories. Ethan asked me to play a board game just before lunch.
I put Luke into his high chair and we all gathered around the kitchen table and began to play. After a few snacks and several minutes of not being able to get into anything, Luke began to whine, “Momma, I want down!”
I didn’t want to cut Ethan’s mommy time short, but we were both growing weary of Luke’s protests. I lifted Luke out of his high chair and sat him on the floor with some building blocks to occupy him long enough for us to finish the game.
It didn’t occupy him long enough. He crawled up into the kitchen chair next to his brother and began to play with the extra game pieces.
He was within arm’s reach, but in what seemed like a split second he had stood up, one foot slipped off the chair, and he fell backward onto the tile floor below. He hit his back and head hard.
I flew out of my chair and scooped him up before he could suck in the air that always comes out in the loudest, blood-curdling scream-cry a mother can ever hear. But ... there was no sound.
Luke’s eyes rolled backward and his body went limp in my arms. My heart may have stopped for a few seconds.
As I held my baby boy close to me, bouncing lightly, and praying out loud, my normally loud oldest son was pacing circles around us a whispering, “Is he alright, Mommy? Is he alright?”
“Get the phone!” were the only words I could form. Luke took a gasp of air and a faint, long whimper came out of his mouth before I heard the 911 operator’s voice on the other end of the line, “Where’s your emergency?”
He passed out and regained consciousness once more before I heard the sirens heading down the road and into our driveway.
The paramedics checked his vital signs, dilation of his eyes, and watched him take a few clumsy steps in my kitchen before assuring me that he was going to be fine, just a little shaken up.
Still, they advised me to take him to the hospital for a thorough examination, and not to allow him to drink or eat anything until he was checked out.
By the time I had made the hysterical call to my husband, loaded the kids in the car, and lugged them into the ER, Luke was back to his happy, inquisitive self.
The doctor who examined him found only a strawberry-sized, pink bump on the back of his head, and a very guilt-ridden mother at his bedside. She believed he passed out from having the “wind knocked out of him” and holding his breath, not the blow to the head.
As for Luke, he was happy to watch SpongeBob SquarePants and eat popsicles with his big brother for the next hour in the hospital room.
Just before we were cleared to go home the doctor said, “Mom, this will likely happen again, so get your nerve up.” Then she told me to call the doctor if:
- Your child has lost consciousness (especially an infant)
- Won’t stop crying
- Complains of head and neck pain
- Becomes difficult to console
- Isn’t walking normally
If your child is not an infant, has not lost consciousness, and is alert and behaving normally after the fall or blow:
- Apply an ice pack or instant cold pack to the injured area for twenty minutes.
- Observe your child carefully for the next twenty-four hours. If you notice signs of an internal injury, call a doctor immediately.
- If the incident has occurred close to bedtime or naptime and your child falls asleep soon afterward, check in every few hours to look for twitching limbs or disturbances in color or breathing.
- If color and/or breathing are abnormal, or if you aren’t comfortable with your child’s appearance (trust your instincts), call the doctor.
It’s impossible to prevent your child from ever being injured, but there are ways to help prevent blows and falls. Childproofing your home and supervision are keys.
It’s been a couple months since Luke’s fall and I still feel guilty, but I’m no longer beating myself up over it and he doesn’t remember.
The flashbacks are fewer and farther between, and I’ve learned from the experience. I thank God every day for the beautiful, healthy children I have, and I pray that I will survive the bumps and bruises the future is sure to hold.