In 2010, my biggest dream came true. I delivered my first child, a daughter. K terrified us from the start by rolling on her cord and cutting off her oxygen for a second, just before she was born. During her first year of life, I developed (is that the correct word?) Post Partum Depression. The kicker? No one believed me, well not the doctors. Therapists told me that I was “overwhelmed”. In 2012, I was told I was “borderline PPD”. What the hell is that even? In the end, with the help of a very small group of friends/family, I dealt with it myself. It wasn’t easy. My relationship with K suffered. To keep this short and not a novel-length blog post, let’s fast forward.
In 2013, our family moved from California to Virginia. We bought our first home and were excited about a new adventure. Two weeks after we moved into our new home, K was supposed to be taking a nap in the living room. Because she wouldn’t sleep with us in the room, my husband and I went into the office, with a clear view of the living room. The room had a sectional couch and hard laminate flooring.
My husband and I were talking in the office and heard ———-sorry, I can still hear the sound. It vibrates through my soul. We heard the loud smack on the floor. When we rushed in and I picked her up from the floor, she was crying. We checked her, watched her for a few hours, and we noticed she would play but something was off.
Our first trip to the new military hospital found us driving around searching for the emergency room. As we were trying to locate the right place, K started coughing and I reached my hand over from my seat beside her and caught a handful of vomit. Head injury and vomiting—-I knew it wasn’t a good sign.
The verdict was a skull fracture. I remember sitting on the bed crying, guilt…guilt that took me years to even attempt to get over, washing over me. K, leaning against the bed says in her sweet 2-year-old voice, “it’s okay mama, don’t cry”.
The next morning, they did another CT scan and found out it was much worse than we thought. Blood was seeping through the crack in her skull and they needed to operate. They wheeled her back to surgery that took at least two hours, where they cut a silver dollar size hole in her skill, drained the blood from her brain, and replaced the piece of skull.
We are VERY lucky. In the five years since her accident, the only lingering effect is a significant stutter. That’s it. She’s an all A first grader, loves art and is so creative it still blows me away with how talented she is. She’s shy, sensitive, and the most caring and compassionate person you’d ever meet. She loves everyone and faces the stuttering like a champ.
Looking at the pictures from back then are painful and I cry every time. The guilt, nor the sound of her head against the floor ever goes away, and I don’t know if it ever will. But, I feel blessed to still have her here in my life. Mix the PPD depression with this accident and I hit a very dark place. I developed a severe case of OCD, and it affects my life and my relationship with her. I turn to my writing to save me, and when I see her making her own books along side me, I feel for just an instant that we DO have a connection. That it’s me who blames myself for her accident, and not her blaming me.
Hold your babies. You never know what might happen, or how lucky you’ll get with a second chance. Appreciate the little things, and hold tight to the light….because the dark isn’t a fun place to camp in. Remember that accidents DO happen, many are beyond your control. I know I’m not a terrible parent, nor am I perfect. I say all the time that I don’t deserve my babies, and I’ll likely always believe that. But, I can’t let the guilt of what happened to control me, and I promise, I’m trying really hard to remember that.
Thank you for reading our story. If you think it could help someone else, please share. Comment if you’d like.