I remember the day that it happened. A beautiful and hot day in July. We had just come home from a long walk. Woo was hungry and wet, so I went upstairs to change him while his bottle warmed. He was his usual happy and playful self, not yet fussy, but getting there, so we headed downstairs.
I lost my footing and we tumbled down the last two stairs, falling forward. My knees hit the floor first, then my elbows, then Woo. Onto the slate tile. It was so silent for an eternity, then we both freaked out. He cried and fought to stay awake while I cried and called Willy. He rushed home and we headed to the closest hospital. I should have called 911, but I had never been faced with a situation where you would need to call 911. I called Willy and he came running.
We were fast tracked at the hospital. It wasn’t a pediatric hospital so it was a bit of a comedy of errors trying to get his vitals taken, but we quickly got to see a doctor. Woo had perked up by this time, and charmed said doctor and everyone else around, which was incredibly normal for my lil man. He was thoroughly checked out, and we were sent home with instructions to watch him for any changes, any pattern of abnormal behaviour. Which is not the easiest thing with a four month old. Normal is the lack of routine!
I watched him like a hawk for the rest of that day looking for any little change in his behaviour. He was his usual unpredictable self, but I over analyzed his every move. There were no significant changes until he vomited his bottle right before bed. Then I knew what they meant. This was not normal. It wasn’t a pattern and he wasn’t distressed, so he settled in to bed, and we carried on with the evening. I was stressed and blaming myself, but he was OK, so I was almost OK. Until he vomited his next bottle.
We called tele-health, and they sent us backto the hospital that we had been to that morning. They again checked him over and had us stay overnight for observation. I watched him sleep that entire long night, and then fed him in the morning. He was fine for a while, but then sick again, so they sent us to CHEO, where he was poked and prodded some more, and sent for a CT, which showed that his skull was fractured.
My poor little baby had a fractured skull. I fractured his skull. I felt like the world’s worst mother. A small part of me still does when I think about it. There was no treatment, and other than the added doctor’s appointments over the next year, you would never know it had happened.
I knew. He was so young when it happened. I spent the next year or so agonizing over every milestone, watching his every reaction, searching for something that wasn’t there. I am sure that I drove Willy nuts with my concerns, but he never let on. I was positive that I had “broken” him in some way. He’s still perfect, and for that I am so grateful.
It still haunts me to this day. It doesn’t happen every time I walk down the stairs, but I frequently replay that day in my mind. When I am carrying one of the lils, or even the cat, I clutch them a little bit tighter on those stairs. Now that the lils are older and freely moving up and down the stairs, I am forever trying to be there as they go. To catch them if they fall. Watching them horse around on that very set of stairs kills me, and I forever preach to them that it is NOT ALLOWED. They mostly listen, thankfully.
As I was leaving CHEO on that fateful day, a nurse stopped me and asked if I was OK. I started to tell her that I had no physical injuries, but she stopped me and asked how I was emotionally. I said that I was shaken, but would be fine. It’s taken me a long time, and I am getting closer, but I am still not fine. Getting better about it, but definitely not fine.