Beau's accident and how I'm handling my mom guilt a week laterJul 08, 2021
Last weekend was horrible.
Beau had the worst accident/scare we’ve had with a kid yet- and that’s a lot coming from a mom whose water broke at 27 weeks, a NICU mom, a mom whose son was in the ICU for a week with RSV, and a toddler mom whose son has already had 6 stitches smack dab in the middle of his forehead.
While I am still very much processing my feelings about the experience - and to be totally honest I feel a little gross for sharing it online - but I’ve decided to write about it for two reasons.
- The first is selfish. Writing helps me process - and to be honest I don’t have time to write if it's not for work.
- The second is for you. Given the fact that I've been in the mom game for a few years now, and have run up a sizable tab of scares, I HAVE learned a few things from the experiences…especially when it comes to honoring your own emotions and handling mom guilt.
Last weekend we had a family day in town, no real plans, just quality family time. I remember saying to Kent “It is going to be so nice to have a quiet Sunday together!”
We took the kids to Costco for the first time since covid and the kids were really excited by all the TV’s that were bigger than they could imagine, the free snacks, and by the double wide carts. They were asking to stand in them the whole time we were there, and when Kent went to get in the checkout line wrapping around the store like Trader Joes in NYC. So, I grabbed an empty cart and to kill time I let them stand in the lower part.
They were walking back and forth (cart wasn’t moving) and pretending to “surf” in the cart. I looked away for a second and heard Bailey scream. Beau had tried to push past her and fell out of the cart onto the cement floor. On his head.
What happened next was seconds but felt like hours.
First, I immediately got to him and picked him up and he was upset and scared, then he blacked out. I flipped. I put him on a display of clothes in the middle of the store and a stranger ran over and called 911. After several seconds, 10-15 maybe but I was so scared I lost all track of time, Beau woke up and started screaming - but he wasn’t moving his hands or feet and he had a big knot sticking out of his head where he fell.The stages of fear that passed through me in those seconds as so many different visions of my family’s nightmares played in front of me. When he finally grabbed my finger and called mama, emotion washed over me.
We rushed in an ambulance to the hospital. In the ambulance I couldn’t stop blaming myself and saying it was all my fault because he wasn’t strapped in, and I allowed them to play like that. I felt sick, helpless, and truly terrified.
At the hospital we watched and waited for four hours while Beau was evaluated. Beau was doing his best to cheer me up, he had stopped crying in the ambulance ride, and was enjoying popsicles and crayons with his sister while we waited. He ended up throwing up twice and eventually the doctors agreed that we should do a CAT scan to make sure everything was okay. Those hours waiting for the test results were the longest I’ve felt in a while.
I kept walking around the ER remembering being there when my water had broken. How truly panicked I felt. How I NEEDED someone there to give me answers.
The CAT scan came back negative. Beau was 100%. 12 hours later and he was eating sushi like nothing happened, the next morning there was hardly even a bruise.
I take it back. 12 hours later he was acting like nothing had happened...but I could not. Beau has healed from this experience - but emotionally I'm still really bruised a week and a half later. I’ve taken the time to recognize and deal with my feelings better this time - and I'm hoping a few of you can relate to them/they can help you.
WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM THESE EXPERIENCES:
- Whenever a bad experience happens to my kids I blame myself.
It doesn’t matter how big or how small.
-When my water broke - I had been running too much this pregnancy (as an expert in the field I can back up now that is not true)
-When Beau got RSV I shouldn’t have let a premie do daycare so young
-When he split his head open (tripping over Kents foot) I wasn’t watching him.
-When he blacked out - I didn’t strap him in.
Why are we so quick to blame ourselves? One part of it is logical. We are our kids' protectors. But what isn’t fair is how deep I let it cut me. The truth is I will always blame myself, but that cant always be there for my kids, so at some point I have to let that go and promise myself to give parenting everything I can, and what happens next is out of my hands.
- It is pretty easy to forget your own feelings because life moves on so quickly.
I am the QUEEN of not acknowledging how I feel. I will pour my feelings into a workout, work, WHATEVER, because it’s more comfortable to be the badass, tough girl, who works late or shows up to a workout class when her kid is sick etc.
- For the weeks/ months that follow I can’t stop re-living the scare unless I take the time to process it.
After my water broke and Beau was finally born I brushed myself off, and moved right out - by pouring every ounce of my being into being a good mom and healing my body physically. All great right? Except that to this day I still have flashes of the experience in my mind.
This gets even easier as a parent because one second you will be in a tragedy, and the next you're all back to regular life. Kids are pretty insanely resilient. More so than your emotions probably are.
Whats not so good:
The mixture of blaming yourself and then shoving away the fear, guilt, and hard stuff you felt in the next days news is pretty easy. But let me tell you from first hand experience, it will stick with you.
I have some really visible scars from becoming a mom (c-section, not so pretty vein in my inner leg, etc) but I have many more invisible ones. And while I feel motherhood has mostly softened me, not dealing with my kids' big scares has hardened me.
WHAT I”M DOING DIFFERENT THIS TIME:
The night we came home from the hospital I didn’t sleep. I was also silent. The one thing I knew was that while I was still really upset I wasn’t going to blow the pain I was feeling off. I was going to PROCESS it and move on when I was ready. This time I did a few things differently that really helped:
-I took off work the next day and allowed myself some time alone to be upset.
-I spoke up about what happened and verbally acknowledge how much I was struggling with it.
-I spoke to other moms about the experience.
-I communicated my fear, pain and struggle with Kent.
-I remind myself everyday how lucky we are.
While it’s only been a short amount of time I already feel so much stronger dealing with my emotions this time around because of these small changes. I hope that this is really helpful for some of you or at least you can relate to some feelings and know you aren't alone. One last thought on scares - They are terrible, but NOTHING has made me feel more lucky to be a mom.
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