If you are expecting a fun expat or travel entry, this is not for you. I’m about to bare my soul friends so think of this entry as my personal diary entry. I don’t need any criticism, I’ve got that down for myself plenty. I need some therapeutic outlet and I think writing my story out is just the medicine I need to begin my healing process. Beware: this is raw, unedited, and long.
2 weeks ago exactly today, on Friday morning December 6th at 9am, my gorgeous, spunky, funny, and curious little lady (then 20.5 weeks old), managed to roll herself from the middle of my king size bed over the side, falling down onto our hardwood floor (which underneath is cement). Scariest time of my life. I can’t even. Truly. Can’t even deal. The tears won’t quit as I right this but yet I know in my heart I need this outlet to help me forgive myself, although I highly doubt I ever will.
It was just 5 seconds. Just a mere turn of my body and 5 little steps to my closet to grab my navy blue cardigan (I’m always cold, even in hot weather). That’s all it took for the worst day of my life to begin. 9am. We were getting ready, Ava and I, to head out to pick up Jen & her little lady Emma for our Friday morning bible study. While my back was turned, thats when I heard THE WORST sound of my life. The sound of her little body hitting the floor. I will never forget it. Ever. ever. ever. I close my eyes and I hear it. I shower and I hear it. I look at her and I hear it. I drive down the street and I hear it. I eat and I hear it. I just can’t deal. I can’t seem to block it out of my mind. She’s been rolling over since she turned 3 months and is getting quicker every day but I just didn’t think she would move so far and so fast. I was moving too fast that morning, trying to get too much done and I made the worst mistake of my life of turning my back on her.
Immediately I ran to the other side of the bed and found her on her back, and she immediately started screaming. I picked her up and slowly the screaming subsided but it wasn’t a good thing. You see, she began to pass out. I was frantic. My first thought was- try and get her to latch. I ripped my boob out for her and she tried to suck but then kept wanting to pass out. She was white as a ghost. I was horrified. I was alone. My husband was in another country and not due back until 6pm that night. I felt her head and a humungous ridge started to form on the upper left hand side. I tried to call my husband but he was in Myanmar, a country that doesn’t offer good cell service. I ran outside to my neighbor Chris’s house (who is a nurse) but she was taking her daughter to school. I ran inside to call Jen but she was in the shower getting ready for my arrival. Finally I managed to get my husband on the line, all the while Ava was whimpering and getting whiter (is that even possible?) and kept trying to pass out. I couldn’t call the ambulance cause living where we do in Kuala Lumpur would take God knows how long to get to us with all the traffic and construction going on. Anyway, my husband tried to calm me down over the phone as I got Ava into her car seat and off I drove to the hospital. That was horrifying. I had no choice. I drove with my hazards on and in the rearview mirror I kept screaming at her to stay awake and pulling over to the side of the road to shake her awake. That 15 minute drive took what felt like hours. When we arrived I barreled into the ER and they immediately tended to her. Thats when she began to puke. Not your typical baby spit up puke, but actual deep belly foul smelling puke. Horrifying.
Soon after getting to the ER both Chris and Jen returned my calls and rushed to the ER to be with us. I thank God for these 2 angels in my life every day. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know how I would have done it all alone with Ava in the ER that morning. Dealing with doctors, giving Ava a oral sedative for a cat scan, doing the cat scan, paperwork for admitting Ava, fighting for a single room so I wouldn’t have to room with others, fielding phone calls, communicating with David as he was flying back to be with us, and getting prayer circles started. Soon after my pastor from my church also arrived to lend a hand, which was much needed as well.
After about 4 hours, we got the results from the CT scan: A 4.5 cm (1.75 inches) skull fracture, but thank the amazing Lord above, NO brain bleeding or swelling. She had an incredibly nasty concussion but no long term damage that they could see. I was relieved, I was confused, I was scared about the fracture, I was just numb. Ava had a massive concussion and would need to be admitted to the hospital for observation. They wheeled us up to our room and my dear friends helped me get settled, got my house keys to go get me non-puked on clothes and some food. More friends arrived- Chin Chin and Daniela, to pray with me and to encourage me & Kerry to sit and comfort me. We got Ava down for a nap in our hospital room (I was terrified to let her sleep but the doctors assured me she could and would be fine) and I just sat there, alternating between bawling my eyes out and staring at the wall. Finally David arrived around 7pm (as did more friends with dinner for us) and I was so relieved to have him with us. He couldn’t stay with us due to the single bed plus rollaway crib so instead he went home to grab some essentials for Ava and I both (you know, things like a toothbrush, diapers, pjs, etc) and came back to stay with me till I fell asleep with Ava.
About midnight, Ava woke up crying. I immediately grabbed her and found she was hungry. She cuddled next to me on my hospital bed and began to feed. About 15 minutes later, she started vomiting again. I called the nurse and she cleaned it up, while Ava went back to sleep. I barely slept after that, I was too worried about my girl. In the morning when she woke to feed, she again threw it all up, and then some, plus began to dry heave. I called the nurse to get the doctor and also called David to come to the hospital. By then Ava feel back asleep, from pure exhaustion I am sure, while David and I spoke with the doctors about our next move. She woke again and of course was hungry so again we began the process of feeding her….only to find her throwing it all up AGAIN. OK now I’m panicking and scared. The doctor ordered an ultrasound of her head to see if there was any delayed bleeding or swelling (much safer than another dose of radiation from the CT scan). He also wanted to get a pick line in her to start fluids so she wouldn’t get too dehydrated from being so sick and not keeping any food in her system.
This is now the 2nd worst day of my life. Our pediatrician brought us down to the pediatric ward to their “procedure room” for him and 2 nurses to insert a pick line. David and I had to hold her down while they tried, unsuccessfully, to get a pick line in. They poked both her hands, both her elbows, and 1 foot before realizing she wasn’t going to stay still long enough for them to get the needle into her tiny little vein. I could have told them that. Ava was crying hysterically and I wasn’t far behind her. It was then deemed that in order to get a line in, they must gas mask her to get her sedated enough and be still. I was horrified. We then waited again until they called us down to another floor in yet another room to do this next procedure. Here is where the preverbal shit hit the fan. They were only going to allow 1 of us parents to be in the room with her- not because there wasn’t room, but because it was “hospital policy”. My husband went ballistic. I mean really, our 4 1/2 month old daughter is about to be gas masked and you are telling the parents only 1 of them can accompany her? I am so sure. What a joke. He raised such a ruckus (mind you this is in Malaysia so the nursing staff and him communicating about it all was choppy and confusing) that it all became overwhelming and I snuck away with Ava to a quiet corner to get her settled.
Anyway, along came our greatest ally- anesthesiologist Dr. Sabter. Ironically enough she was the one who gave me my epidural and with whom we had the most amazing experience ever back in July. She is a godsend. Once she heard the story (she just happened to be walking by), she took us both down to the ER to one of their operating rooms and told the nurses that she couldn’t deal with their “hospital policies” and told them they were being idiots & she would do the procedure herself- Hallelujah!
I hated this next part: I had to lay her down onto a table while a nurse put a tiny little gas mask over her mouth. David and I sang her favorite song to her while she nodded off (Goodnight sweetheart). Soon after I noticed her breathing really funny so I brought it to the nurses attention and they realized her tongue was getting in the way of her airways- what?! She was choking in her sleep :(. They got a little contraption into her mouth to hold her tongue down and again gas masked her to sleep. I never let her go, crying the whole time, and David holding us both. Dr. Sabter and her makeshift team worked quickly to get a pick line in her tiny little foot and finally, success. I couldn’t even tell you how long this took- could have been 15 minutes, could have been 45 minutes, it was a complete blur and it felt like hours before she woke up again. Once she did, they took us around the corner to wait for her ultrasound. By this time she was completely out of it, hungry, and crying out of confusion as to what was happening with her. I fed her in the hallway, not caring in the least who saw my boobs, and immediately she threw up AGAIN. Big time. We all came to the conclusion though that this time it was a combination of the concussion as well as the nitrogen gas wearing off. Anyway, another godsend of a doctor, Dr. Josephine, quickly got us into her room for an ultrasound and relief, found no delayed bleeding or swelling.
It was good news but again, still confusing, as she was still throwing up. Back up to our hospital room we went to get her fluids started and a nap while we discussed with the doctors our next move. Dr. Sabter gave us her personal mobile number to call in the event we needed mountains moved again (love her). Our pediatrician recommended we speak with Dr. Wong, a highly regarded neurosurgeon. The only catch? He was in the midst of a 12 hour surgery and wouldn’t be able to get to us until later in the evening. So, we buckled in for a long day. Some friends came again with lunch and dinner and to just visit and keep us occupied while Ava slept, ate, and got fluids. The whole thing broke my heart. And (I felt) it was all my fault.
To add more to the story, David’s parents were expected in to KL Sunday morning to spend the holidays with us. We were obviously spending another night in the hospital so we began the process of trying to figure out how to get them a taxi from the airport to our house so David could pick them up to bring them to the hospital. I clearly wasn’t leaving Ava’s side and I sure didn’t want David to leave our side either. Anyway, Dr. Wong, the neuro doc, came to our room around 8pm. He felt Ava’s “soft spot” on her head as well as the sight of the fracture. He could’t find anything wrong with her so that, coupled with her happy demeanor despite it all (have I mentioned she’s a rockstar & a tough little cookie?!), along with her ct scan and ultrasound, he concluded she just would need time to heal up. How long we asked? He said a few days but could be up to a week….
But the major concern still was dehydration. We settled in for the night and prayed she would stop vomiting. Well, she didn’t. She continued through the day on Sunday a few more times. Finally we all decided she just needed rest and her home, so we asked to be discharged. We went home Sunday night but kept the pick line in her foot in the event we needed to go back due to continued vomiting in the coming days. Monday morning we packed ourselves up to head back to the hospital. More checks with Dr. Chai & Dr. Wong. Both said she looked fine and said the pick line could come out, but to watch her in the coming week. We settled in for the week, keeping things low key and at home to help her heal. Every day she threw up, every.single.day. She also dry heaved every day- do you know how horrible it is to watch your infant daughter go through all that? She just wasn’t herself and everyone kept saying it would take a few days to heal but it was gut wrenching to watch.
Prior to her accident, she had been sleep trained and was on a regular eating schedule. Well all that went out the window. I couldn’t bear to let her cry and so I alternated between nursing her and comforting her and rocking her to sleep every day. I was mentally and physically drained but still wound so tight I could hardly breathe.
Friday, exactly 1 week after her fall, she started the morning per her usual- throwing up breakfast and dry heaving. This time she looked more pale and lethargic than the past week so we rushed her back to the ER where she continued to dry heave. After speaking with the doctors, we decided the confirmation of knowing one way or another was worth more than the risk of further radiation so we succumbed to putting her through another ultrasound of her head as well as a low-dose CT scan. Again, both tests came back normal, no brain swelling or bleeding. Praise God! We also did another blood test on her (more needle pricks) and that too came back normal. 6 hours after arriving, we went home again to allow her rest and time to recover. Throughout the following weekend she continued to vomit, but less and less each day. Her concussion was finally starting to heal. Her fracture would just take some time.
On Monday December 16th, her 5 month Birthday, she didn’t throw up at all, nor did she dry heave. She even slept well and napped well. Amazing feat given the prior 10 days of hell. She hasn’t thrown up since and on Tuesday even went back to the hospital for follow up appointments as well as her 5 month wellness check. Both the pediatrician and the neurologist checked her out and she was cleared! The only remaining injury was the skull fracture, which would take about 4-6 weeks to heal up. We all breathed a huge sigh of relief. The rest of this week has been awesome- every day she is more and more herself. She is eating up a storm and sleeping and napping amazingly. Her only “glitch” is that I can tell, call it mothers intuition if you will, but she doesn’t roll over and over as much as she did “before”. I may be paranoid and I can tell, she’s getting more adventurous again every day, but I think she’s just a tad hesitant right now and you know what, that is absolutely fine by me! I’ve got my healthy, giggly, and rambunctious daughter back and I couldn’t be happier.
Throughout this whole ordeal, I’ve had many people- friends, family, strangers….all tell me that it happens. Accidents happen. Many a baby has fallen & they all turn out alright. And I get that, I really do. In fact, I know that Ava WILL be alright. But it doesn’t help my guilt. My husband even said to me, he said: “If it had happened on my watch would you have blamed me?” I responded that “no, not at all, I would have blamed myself for not being there”. (By the way he does not blame me at all and also calls it a freak accident). I guess this is a “Welcome to mommy hood” moment right?! Well, its for the birds I tell you!! I would also like to add that the same day Ava had her accident, another 4 month baby was also brought into the same hospital due to falling out of someones arms!! She is not as lucky as Ava. She is still in ICU and barely breathing on her own. She still needs our prayers. That could have been my baby. Oh.my.I.can’t.even.go.there.
Silver lining? We are one of the lucky ones. And most importantly we have amazing friends here in Kuala Lumpur who have taken care of us and been there for us and fought along side us and this means so much to us. Being far away from family, especially at a time like this, is the hardest thing in the world to deal with, but knowing that our support system in KL is by our side makes life and recovery that much sweeter. We have also had, throughout this whole ordeal, tons of prayer circles started throughout the USA- with our family, our friends, their families and their friends….truly the outpouring of love, support, and prayer has been incredible and we are so very blessed for everyone in our lives pulling for our girl, sending love & encouragement and God’s grace during this time. Ava is also quite the mommy’s girl these days. I’m not sure our bond could have ever gotten stronger but this ordeal has strengthened that bond tremendously. I am so in love with my little lady.
We even moved forward with our plans to Baptize Ava while David’s parents are in town. She was a total rockstar through the entire ceremony. I couldn’t have been more proud of her strength and resilience…and lets be honest, mine too. Many a time during Church this past Sunday when we baptized her I found my eyes welling up with tears, just thanking God over and over for saving my baby- for protecting her, healing her, and for forgiving me, because I know He does. I also think back to what must have been going through David’s mind as he was stuck in Myanmar for crying out loud while this all went down. I can’t imagine the pain he was feeling being apart from us. But I’m so thankful for his strength and for getting me calm enough to get Ava to the hospital and for him taking control of everything throughout our ordeal. I couldn’t have done it without him by my side. He’s an amazing husband and father.
And I know I will heal myself. I’ll be fine and I am sure she will continue to have accidents to some degree- thats kids right? I just pray it doesn’t happen to your 4 month old. It hurts me so much. Time heals all wounds, well that and God’s great mercy on us all. And throughout the whole ordeal, if it wasn’t for the initial huge bump on her head and the subsequent paleness and throwing up, you would never know she was sick.
We are one lucky, blessed, and healthy family. THIS is our Christmas Blessing.
Until next time, give a little extra love to your babes today~
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