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Stories by Parents

A Paramedic and a Father

You may think “it won’t happen to me”, well it happened to me and you would think as a paramedic I would know better! Believe me it only takes a few seconds of distraction for a child to get injured.  When my son was little, I had him on the change table and only turned my back on him for no more than 5 second to reach for the diaper bag and I heard a loud boom!  Yes my son was face down on the ground and then I saw the blood!  I sure realized that even turning away or leaving a child unattended for a few seconds is too long and the consequences can be very serious.

Father-in-training, Guelph, Ontario

I want to share with all those parents in Ontario and elsewhere about a fall my little girl took when she was about 14 months old. It was this moment that made clear my responsibility for ensuring my daughter’s safety and how difficult this was going to be. I was changing my little sweetheart on our ‘change table’, an old leather sofa in the living room. We had always used this piece of furniture because it was leather and easily cleaned, it was conveniently available in the space we used the most and all the diapers, wipes and creams that we always needed could be stored in the footstool next to it. Ten times a day, we moved to the sofa to change diapers. We had a routine; we all knew what we were doing and what would happen. Or so I thought! On this particular day, I was preparing to change my daughter’s diaper, but my wife or I had accidentally left the wet wipes out of reach on the table across the room. Asking, or telling, my daughter to stay put on her back, I jumped up and crossed the room very quickly to get the wipes. I knew I had only a second before she started moving, but I thought I could do it safely. When I turned back, the shock that my daughter was standing and walking toward the edge of the sofa was almost too much. In what seemed like slow motion I dashed toward her while I watched her fall forward off the sofa and down to the carpeted ground. She had fallen many times while climbing or leaning on furniture and been okay; however, on this occasion, she hit one of her little toys, a music and light toy, before she hit the ground. She ended up smashing her cheek right below her eye. My daughter survived, but I was changed forever that day.

I am grateful for this event because my daughter was not permanently hurt, but also because I learned that my expectations about my daughter’s safety are not always accurate. She grows and learns something new everyday, so I can’t always appreciate what she might do. In this moment I realized that when I take things for granted and assume she will be safe, I am setting her and I up for a possible bad outcome. Watching her fall, as she fell head first toward the floor and hit a toy, I could see her head snapped back and it was over before I could save her. It could have been so much worse; she might have hit the coffee table or damaged her eye. She ‘only’ ended up with a black eye, but I think I was mentally scarred for life; I still get shivers thinking about it.

I just wanted to post this because I know how easy it is to think that things will be okay. Thinking this way made me minimize my own safety concerns. I survived childhood, and so I think my daughter will too. The problem is that kids get hurt and lives change, and not always from dramatic events, but from everyday events like the one my daughter experienced. So I am asking every parent, new and old, to be careful with the furniture. Pay attention to the things that your son or daughter might hit if they fell off!! And never assume that things will be okay.

Thump-Thump-Wack: Too Old for Stair Gates?

I am the father of a 9 year old girl and what happened to her happened when she was 4, although I remember it like it happened this morning. We lived in a 2 story house with carpeted stairs. My wife and I had decided that we would not put up stair gates because we felt our daughter was quite good on the stairs. Although our previous house had only one level had seen her climb many sets of stairs elsewhere and were confident in her abilities. My wife and I were in the kitchen making lunches for the day and our daughter was upstairs getting dressed. It was a normal morning. All of the sudden we heard a sound I will never forget. “THUMP-THUMP-THUMP-THUMP-WACK” and then silence….

It was this silence that I remember most vividly, my heart started pounding as though it would burst through my chest; it was terrifying and seemed to last forever although it was probably only a second before she started screaming at the top of her lungs. We ran to see her lying on the ground with her face and nose beginning to bleed. She had apparently landed face first on the tile floor. She was conscious thank goodness but my wife and I being in the medical field were aware that these kinds of head injuries can be serious with symptoms only surfacing later. So after cleaning her up a bit and applying a cold cloth to her face I took her to the local Emergency Room where I cancelled all my meetings for the morning and waited for a 2 hours to see a doctor. It turned out that she was OK but we were told by the physician that he sees these kinds of injuries all the time and that we were lucky that there was no serious damage.

From then on we were extremely careful with our daughter making sure that she always held the railing, made strict rules about NOT carrying anything or running on the stairs and put a thick carpet at the bottom over the tiles. I just wanted to share this in hopes that other parents may read it and be more careful before they have to hear that horrifying sound. We thought, “She’s 4 now, she’s fine on the stairs” but we were wrong and we were REALLY lucky.