Monday, October 08, 2007

A Horrible 2nd Birthday

Kaitlyn’s 2nd birthday didn’t end up like I had planned. I didn’t expect to find ourselves back in the hospital and the ER Room on the 2 year anniversary of our daughters’ birth.

Let me say that she’s amazingly ok….

Stepping back a bit, Kaitlyn’s been sick again for over a week so we’ve been taking it sort of easy lately (remember she has lung disease and is at risk for severe lung issues). We decided to go to San Francisco for her birthday on 10/4 to watch the Blue Angels (for 4 days for Fleet Week the Arial show is directly over the city and the Bay).

We drove to SF and strapped Kaitlyn into her BOB Jogging Stroller. We walked down to the sidewalk along the Marina/Break water that had a grassy area nearby, knowing that if Kaitlyn grew tired of being in the stroller we could let her run around on the grass.

There was a small girls soccer team practicing on the grass. I said to Brian that I was so happy to finally be a mother and that I felt Kaitlyn would be able to run and play like those girls out there. I was feeling really happy.

Just as the Blue Angels started, we kneeled down and pointed the planes out to Kaitlyn and she was pointing up to them. The planes took a curving path around us and both Brian and I stood and turned to watch them. I was feeling joy at being here, with our “family” watching the planes with our daughter.

After they flew past, Brian turned back and yelled out “Where’s Kaitlyn?”

OH MY GOD. Her stroller was gone. This was maybe 20 seconds after we were talking to her. It had vanished.

It rolled off the break water into the Bay. Can you imagine the sight of her stroller missing? This memory is etched into my mind.

Brian jumped off the wall and I ran up to it and looked down. Her stroller was face down on the rocks. Her legs were sticking out. Oh MY GOD!!!!!! Brian quickly righted it and pushed it up to me. He could hardly get it all the way up, he had to hoist it up and I grabbed down and pulled it back up onto the sidewalk.

Kaitlyn just fell 8-10 feet onto a rock face/head first.

(My heart is racing again just typing this and reliving this horrible, horrible accident….I’m fact, I’m having a really hard time writing this).

There was a police substation set up not 100 yards away (for Fleet Week). I immediately took her out of the stroller -probably a bad move in hindsight (in case she had had a broken her neck), but I was desperate. Brian told me not to take her out, but it was too late. She was crying, blood everywhere I was in shock myself. Blood in her mouth, her face….

I screamed to Brian check her out you are a Paramedic. He grabbed her, told me to call 911 and ran towards the police trailer. I couldn’t get through 911 (an automatic system and I was in cue) and besides the fact I couldn’t hear a thing due to the screaming Blue Angels over head.

Brian laid Kaitlyn out on the table of the police trailer and I said I couldn’t get through to 911. They assured me help was already on the way. Ambulance and engine came (remember this is where Brian works as a fireman). I really only remember some of all of this at this point.

I carried her to the Ambulance. She was inconsolable.

They told me to get on the gurney and then I held Kaitlyn, we were going Code 3 to the hospital. OH MY GOD.

At this point, when I looked out the back window of the Ambulance and saw a police escort on a motor cycle I had a complete break-down. I started sobbing (I can’t believe I held it together until this point). (Brian later told me that we had a full escort with more motor cycle cops in front –and that this is REALLY rare).

I can’t believe we were going back to the hospital with my daughter on this day. On October 4th - On The day I lost Corinne. Please don’t let this be happening. How could I have ever let go of the stroller? Please let Kaitlyn be ok. What a horrible mother I was…

They asked if she had any medical issues? Ha! Where to start. You know the drill: Micro preemie, weighed 1.5 pounds at birth, lost her twin sister, 4 months NICU, chronic lung disease, on inhaled steroids, GI issues, paralyzed vocal chord….(they felt her stomach an freaked out till we stated it was a gtube)

Brian blew up a glove as a balloon, and amazingly Kaitlyn quieted down and said “Balloooon” in her sweet voice. This was the first moment I felt some hope. She was talking. She was recognizing a balloon. I just kept saying to myself she was going to be ok. Everything was going to be ok.

We got to the hospital, there was some confusion, as my husband made them go to a particular hospital (where the girls were born) as opposed to the Trauma Center and the hospital staff wasn’t very happy about that.

They took the glove balloon away from her and popped it (some Nasty Nurse Nelly saying it was dangerous and asking why we weren’t at The General Hosp?) and of course Kaitlyn went into hysterics again after her balloon was gone.

After examination and an hour later Kaitlyn was sent for a Cat Scan to check for any internal injuries. By this time she had calmed down a lot and was actually snuggling in my chest. She got very worked up with the IV insertion (of course) and wound clean-up, but I was starting to feel a lot of relief at this point.

We got the results and the Cat Scan showed she was just fine, with the exception of a Sinus Infection (remember I said she was sick)? What an expensive way to confirm she’s sick.

We were released about 3-4 hours afterwards. I was in shock the whole way home. I can’t believe I let my daughter roll off a cliff. She was finally given some pain medicine before we left and that really helped her.

Her face was already black and blue, and swollen. They patched up a cut on her lip with glue (instead of stitches). Her glasses probably saved her eye. You could tell that her glasses had dug into her face. Remember all those times strangers have asked me if her glasses were for “eye protection”? Well I guess they were!

They told us to watch out for excessive tiredness (from head trauma), but a bit hard to tell as she was recovering from shock too and was wiped out. She slept for a few hours but then started crying uncontrollably. I was able to quiet her down when I held her and finally I went to sleep with Kaitlyn in my arms (the first time she’s ever let me hold her for so long). It made me feel she really does love me. (sometimes I wonder as she missed out on so much bonding time being born so early and my not being allowed to hold her until 5 weeks after she was born).

We ended up eating Kaitlyn’s birthday cake that night ourselves, as we know she wouldn’t “eat it” and we figured we needed the treat more than she did. What a 2nd birthday.

The next day we kept her on Ibuprofen and she was definitely not herself. Her poor face was so sad, swollen and black and blue. I was so afraid that she wouldn’t be able to open her eye as it was so swollen, but she was able to.

Thankfully, though she slept through the night easily on Friday night even after her pain medicine wore off and by Saturday morning she seemed back to normal (except her cold which seemed to be worsening). They said she didn’t need antibiotics if she didn’t have a fever (from the sinus infection) but hard to tell as she was on Ibuprofen for pain for over 24 hours. Her face actually looked a bit better. I thought it was going to be much worse by Saturday as bruising typically gets worse before it gets better.

I have a few pictures of Kaitlyn’s face on Sunday. I was just too freaked out to remember to take any pictures of her after the accident when she looked so much worse. I had to go back to SF on Friday to pick up the stroller (it was still at the police station). I took some pictures of the wall. I was still in shock on Friday myself. I freaked out looking down the wall. What if she had landed in the water? I just couldn’t believe that she was going to be ok. How in the world could I have let this happen?
I know once again that Kaitlyn's sister Corinne is looking out for her - her very special Guardian Angel. And also, my daughter Katilyn is the most amzing, strong little fighter a mother could ever hope for. I'm touched to be her mother.

As a “funny” side-note, on Friday Kaitlyn decided she likes BBQ Potato Chips. I mean really like them. I’ve NEVER heard her ask for anything (besides the occasional water), but she likes to eat chips and was getting upset, signing more and saying “more chips.” I’ve never heard her say more to anything (food or not food). Kaitlyn’s cousin Stella said and signed “more” to everything related to food. Kaitlyn only ever signed more in repetition of us signing more. She REALLY wanted to “eat” chips. Well by “eat” I mean take a bite of the edge of the chip, pack it in her mouth and continue to want more. If she tries to move it around, she then chokes, gages and vomits up anything that she last ate.

I said to Brian, “Ha, you have to have your child fall off an 8 foot cliff in order for them to want to eat and start communicating!” (I was trying to find something to feel joyful at this point). (Scroll to the end of this post for a video of chip eating from today).

Lessen Learned for me and for all parents:

The sidewalk was flat (or seemingly flat). If it had been a ramp I would have never let go of the stroller or would have made sure to have the break on. It happened within 30-40 seconds. I thought it was flat. Please, please let this be a reminder to you, especially in heavy jogging strollers. NEVER ever, even if you think it’s flat, let the stroller go without the parking break or safety strap.

I have to look at this horrific accident as trying to tell me we are so lucky she came through seemingly with cuts, scratches and bruises. Her stroller could have rolled onto oncoming traffic. Who knows. Please let our accident be a reminder to you.

Kaitlyn has "glue" on her upper lip, her eye is badly bruised, but her face looks MUCH better in these pictures taken on Saturday than it did on Friday, the day after

Doesn't this look flat to you?

This shows how far down the sea wall was

Kaitlyn's fall landed somewhere on the rocks behind the stairs before the 2nd ramp (I think). We found the stroller upside down, with her head against the rocks...

Kaitln today, trying out some of her new birthday presents, seemingly just fine after her horrific Birthday accident.

Today. She was just too cute. J (see below) gave Katilyn new pants and hat for her birthday.

Sunday, showing her face looking much better, with "J" our amazing nanny. When she heard about Katilyn's accident she had to come see how she was doing on her day off.

These last 2 pictures were taken a few days before her birthday, showing off her new glassess (without a head strap!) they are a bit big though and thankfully we had just taken them off and put on her regular (strap behind the head glasses) right before the accident.

Lastly, here is a video of Kaitlyn's new love for chips (as well as some of her great new talking skills and of course what would a eating session be without vomit?)


Sheri said...

Oh My GOd! I am soooo sorry that was her birthday! BUT MAN AM I glad she is about some angels watching over her!! WOW- I have actually had that happen to our jogging stroller....though Sammy was not in it! I was shoked to see how far and fast it went! I will make sure I am careful! You guys are truely blessed that she came through ok!!:)

Anonymous said...

Well, that is going to make quite a scrapbook page! Yes that ground is flat. Please do not berate yourself over this----that could have happened to anyone!! We have been to air shows in South FL and I cannot imagine trying to communicate in a crisis over the noise. Thank God she was not hurt worse; even with bruises she's still cute as can be. What a b-day story----hope that as the years go by you'll be able to laugh over it with her.
Lori in VA

Jenny said...

Oh my gosh!! I am so sorry that happened! I am so thankful she is okay!!!

Don't be mad at yourself for this Liz....things happen and just be glad that she is okay and it will be something for to tell her friends about when she gets older! LOL :)

abby said...

Oh My God, Liz! This was so harrowing to read; I cannot imagine what it was like to live through this. Thank God Kaitlyn is OK. And I will learn to use the annoying wheel locks on our new umbrella stroller post haste.

Big hugs to Kaitlyn for being such a brave and resilient little girl.

Kellars Mommy said...

Oh my gosh Liz I am so glad that all is okay, poor baby girl...Wow I never would have thought about that, I am so quilty of not putting on our brakes on kellars stroller...When I read how far she dropped my heart sank, thank god for that little angel that carried her down so softly...

Sarah said...

I'm delurking here (reader and fan since January). Anyway, as I read your post my heart started beating fast and my mouth got dry - I think if you're a micro mom things like this affect you ten times worse, and this is something that could have happened to anyone. Her sister may be her guardian angel, but you and your husband were chosen to be her parents.

IME said...

Oh, how awful for all of you -- I'm so very sorry that you all had such a terrible day and very thankful that Kaitlyn escaped with only bumps and bruises.

Even though it may not make you feel better, things do happen -- my Max pulled a dresser down on himself last spring and broke his leg. I'm still kicking myself for not anchoring it to the wall (we had just moved it in his room and were going to). He was in a body cast for a month, but we're lucky and thankful that he wasn't more seriously injured (another public service announcement -- secure all your tall, heavy furniture/equipment to the wall).

Lots of hugs to you and Kaitlyn -- I hope she feels better soon and kicks her sinus infection for good.

Candice said...

Thank you for sharing and for the warning! I have never commented before but wanted to let you know that I will never forget this!! I know I don"t always have my breaks on but now they will always be on! i heard a tragic story like this on the news the other day but I have to admit I didn't really think twice about it. But now after reading your blog for so long, it feels more meaningful coming from you! Sorry I didn't introduce myself earlier! I have 18month old 31 week twin boys.


Hechung said...

Oh Liz! I'm so sorry that this happened, but am so happy that Kaitlyn is recovering so well. It's amazing how strong our little ones are. Kaitlyn is so strong. She is so adorable with her little hat and baby stroller. How cute can she get?

Casey's trio said...

Thank God she is okay. I cannot imagine the horror that you felt. She's one tough cookie. Happy 2nd birthday to Kaitlyn and Angel Corinne.

Melissa said...

Poor baby. She is a trooper. Dillon had quite the accident this weekend also so don't feel bad. Thats why they are called accidents. We have some pretty scraped up pictures to I just added.

Hope she gets better soon.

Sarah Furlough said...

Thanks goodness she is ok. I know you must have been panicked- as any mother would have. Try not to beat yourself up too much- it was an accident that could have happened to ANY of us!

Glad to see you've found a treat that Miss K likes!

Andrea said...

Stinks that all that happpend, so glad that she is ok.
I can hardly look at those pictures of the wall my goodness.

Kristin said...

Yikes Miss K, what a ride! Glad to hear you are ok. She is so cute talking on the video and smilling!
Just a side note, did you know that those bibs that Kaitlyn has on in the video are known to be full of lead and you can get a full refund and Babies R Us?

Anonymous said...

That is one of the scariest parenting nightmare stories I have heard! I can't even imagine how horrible it must have been for you and how scary for Kaitlin. I lost my son in Borders one time when I got momentarily distracted and even though I found him in under a a minute and he was fine I will never forget the feeling of terror. God Bless you and your adorable little girl.

BusyLizzyMom said...

You don't get much of a break, Kaitlyn may have taken a couple extra years of your life. Glad to see she is doing better and didn't really end up with any major damage. We have a jogger stroller as well and with your horrible nightmare I will definitely be more careful with it.
Glad to see she is trying solids now and enjoying them. It was great that she is biting as well, Elizabeth only just figured out how to do it. Watching her barf episode is like sitting in our dining room last year. We would just remove the top tray from Elizabeth's highchair that was filled with barf and continue eating as it was such a norm. Hang in there it's so much work but hopefully it will pay off. Elizabeth will be 3 soon and I can only say that just recently her eating and barfing have improved. It's tons of hard work and heartache, it broke my heart everytime she barfed cause I knew how much hard work it was to get it in to her.
I loved her pics, with her dolly stroller so cute.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad to hear she is fine. I guess her angel sister is definitely looking out for her. Don't be too hard on yourself. Accidents will happen and no matter how much we protect our children things will not always be happy. I'm so glad to see and hear that she is okay. Take care of yourselves and enjoy her every day.

Modified Mummy said...

I'm new here, this is the first post of yours I've read. I can't imagine the horror you must have felt as all this was happening (although, your writing style describes it well).

It wasn't your fault, but I understand the reasoning behind thinking it may have been. You sound like a wonderful mummy, and I hope that the rests of your posts aren't quite so frantic! (for your sake!)

(Oh, I'll admit this, but I came to your blog primarily because you share my surname, lol)

Kathy Ramsey (Martha's mom) said...

Once again I am in awe of your openness, Liz. So, so happy and relieved that Kaitlyn suffered only cuts and bruises. I know you can't help it, but please try not to beat yourself up. You and your husband are remarkable and wonderful parents. Please take it to heart.

Shannon and Carey said...

Oh Liz and Brian,
I am so sorry. I am glad to hear that Kaitlyn is doing better. I cannot imagine the look of horror on your face when you couldn't find the jogger. Yes the concrete look flat where you were. Corinne was protecting her sister. I just know it.
Have a peaceful evening. Kisses to Kaitlyn.
Shannon in Austin

Billie said...

OH. MY. GOD! Where have I been? I met a friend of mine for lunch today, and she asked if I had read your post! A number of my friends and family are regular readers:)

What a terrifying experience, for Kaitlyn, and for you guys! I cried just reading about it, because I could only imagine if this had happened to us, how horrifying it would be. Seeing your poor girl all covered in blood...

Sorry guys. Hope you are all recovering nicely.

Anonymous said...

Liz, What an amazing story about an amazing little girl. Thank god everyone is alright. Big Kiss to Corrine for watching over her sister. Much love and happy birthday to both the angels. -Whitney

Laura said...

god almighty how scary!
poor, sweet girl. thank goodness all is well.

Trina said...

Aww, Liz. What a crazy way to spend the day. Every year has gotten a tiny bit easier......hang in there!


Anonymous said...

That stroller episode happened to me years ago, my daughter ended up face down (strapped in) and banged up on Sacramento Street in SF. I understand how terrified you must've felt! I'm glad Kaitlyn is recovering well. Happy Birthday to Corinne and Kaitlyn! Hoping for an active and healthy year for all of you.

Best, Maria K.

Allison said...


I am so sorry that you had to go through that. I can only imagine that it could have happen to any of us! I thought of the girls on 10/4 as it is my b-day too! Hang in there and keep being the amazing mom that you are.

laurie said...

Oh my heavens, Liz! I'm so sorry you all had to go through that awful ordeal! I'm soo happy that Kaitlyn is recovering well ... amazing how resilient little ones are, isn't it.

Thanks for the reminder... the lesson has been learned here... No matter what a PITA it is to set our jogging stroller brakes, I'll be doing it religiously from now on, even when i think we're on a totally flat surface!

hugs to all of you,

Kristina said...

Oh Lord! How horrible! Very, very scary. But I'm relieved that Kaitlyn is fine. In fact, she's adorable, as always.


Kendra's mom said...

OMG! I have been terribly busy and haven't read your blog in a while. What an awful experience for you to have to go through. I was almost in tears just reading about it. As the other commenters have said, don't beat yourselves up about it (though I know that is easier said than done). I am glad to hear that there is good news on the vomiting front.
A good friend of mine just lost both her twins at 26 weeks. Now there is extra poignancy whenever I read yours and other micropreemie blogs. How might things have been for them? Well done with Kaitlyn, you guys are doing a great job.

Amy said...

Oh, Liz. My computer has been down for a little over a month and I just got it fixed and decided to check in on you. I had chills from start to finish. How absolutely horrifying to have to go through. Thank God she's okay. What a little trooper.