The One Thing That Terrifies Me As A Mom


I never realized being a mom could leave me so helpless.

It happened so quick.  Within seconds my daughter went from smiling and happy to screaming and in pain. I had watched it happen.  I had seen it coming and I was helpless to do anything.

It happened so quick. Within seconds my daughter went from smiling and happy to screaming and in pain. I had watched it happen. I had seen it coming and I was helpless to do anything.I had tried, of course, to get to her.  I was only a few feet away but I didn’t make it. I reached her only seconds after she hit, hard. I scooped her up in my arms trying to console her while trying to figure out if anything was broken. Looking to see if she could move her arms, legs, fingers and toes.

It’s been 12 hours since it happened and those few terrifying seconds have run through my mind more than a thousand times. I keep replaying it over and over, I can’t help it.

There she was, in the crib, about to throw 2 plush fox’s over the side, just like she always does. She never keeps anything in the crib.  She wakes up and throws everything out, just to chuck it as hard as she can over the side. If she could, she would probably throw the mattress over too.

But this time, she went running, full speed ahead. I saw her just as she began.  A big smile across her face, the 2 fox’s bouncing in her arms.  She’s taller now.  Taller than I knew until that moment.

In that moment I realized that she was going to go over.  I knew she expected the crib to stop her.  That she would run, be stopped by the side of the crib and she would watch those 2 fox’s gloriously fly through the air and crash onto the floor.

Instead, it was her.

I know that by the time she reached the side I was moving toward her.  I was only a few feet away. I watched as she hit the side and her body flipped, feet straight up in the air for just a moment before gravity took over and sent her crashing, head first, to the floor. The only thing protecting her head from the hardwood floor, a thin rug.

I couldn’t save her.

The seconds in which this happened passed like hours and I will never forget the sound it made or the scream that followed.

Just like I’ll never forget the feeling of being helpless to save my child. To watch something terrible happen to her and not having any control over it.

I didn’t know what to do.  I just sat there and held her.  My husband right there, just as helpless.  I picked her up, took her to the kitchen and grabbed an ice pack.

She wanted nothing to do with it.  She was calming down but she wouldn’t have that ice pack on her head for anything.

We called the hospital, spoke with a nurse. They said to bring her in for an evaluation.

So as quickly as we could we packed up both kids and headed to the hospital.

On the way, I kept thinking how terrified my daughter looked when I was in the hospital.  When I had her brother, it was the first time she had seen me like that, the first time she had been to a hospital since her birth. I didn’t want this to terrify her, she had already been through enough, but there was no way around it.

She was amazing.  Such a little trooper.  She sat there while they poked and prodded.  While they evaluated her, she was curious. She never cried and by the end of the evaluation, she was being her normal, goofy self.

She’s okay now, still asleep after her long night.

As for me, I’m not sure if I’ll ever be the same again.  This is the first time in my life that I’ve experienced the anguish of watching my daughter get hurt and knowing there is nothing I can do to stop it.

I know that I can’t protect her from everything, that things like this are going to happen along the way.

What I do know is that I love my children as fiercely as any mother and that I would do anything to protect them. All I can do now is try not to beat myself up about it and do what I can to prevent it from happening again.  To remember that I’m not a bad mother and that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. (Or so they say.)




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  1. I understand you. I’ve had the moment when you watch your child get injured and can’t stop it. You’re right. It is devastating, frightening and you feel like a terrible mother. Thank you for making me feel that I’m not alone in this.

    Oh, and I STILL replay my child’s incident. Sigh, motherhood.

    • Oh goodie. haha. Glad to know it never quite goes away. They make it through. I’d like to think she’s stronger for it now.

  2. This’s se are the most terrifying moments when you can see something happening but can do nothing to stop it. I recently had one when my son fell face first climbing up a slide. It doesn’t get any easier. 😥

  3. I felt sad for you as it is a horrible thing to witness but remember the most important thing for her is …that you were there. You offered comfort and a common sense reaction… hjugs followed by ice etc. Your story brought back many similar memories to me Sara was the tumbler getting scrapes some bad enough for stitches while Niall was allergic to everything, asthma dictated our life then at 18 as an athletic champion disaster in the form of epilepsy arrived. But he got through it all because he had help. I tell you all of this to make a point we can’t always prevent everything but we can be there to offer kindness etc.

    • Thank you Maria. I really appreciate that. You’re right. I think it would be so much worse if they were alone in it. But knowing her father and I will be there must make it somewhat comforting for her. I hope anyway. Thank you so much for your comment and sharing your story!

  4. You are not a bad mother. You are every mother. I remember when my son was two, he’d gotten into the habit of running under my mother’s table, until the day he couldn’t anymore. He figured it out by running full tilt into the table and smacking his head so hard, it made him sit down. The tears were enormous….mine and his. He’s 30 now and it’s one of the stories I tell about him growing up.

  5. I’m so sorry you had to go through that! We all experience things like that at one point or another (like the six stitches my son needed in his chin because we wrapped him so tightly in a towel that he couldn’t break his fall when he slipped on the wet tile). We can kick ourselves, but I think these are the experiences that make us better parents because we truly grasp what it means to love these little people fiercely while preparing to set them free in a big world we can’t control.

  6. We’ve had a couple scares like that… The first was when our boy started cruising around the furniture, he was doing great… and then one morning he pulled himself to standing by the coffee table, hands slipped, down he went, face into the edge of the coffee table. I was just on the other side of the table and couldn’t get around or across to him to hold him up. Up he came with tears in his eyes, and when he opened his mouth – blood came gushing out. It looked awful. Didn’t know if it was tongue, (brand new!) teeth, or lip. I had him suck on a cold wash cloth and in the minute it took us to get him into the car seat, he’d calmed down and was laughing. While my husband and I tried not to hyperventilate. I cried the whole way to the ped office. The nurses and the doc we saw all told us mouths bleed like crazy. All it ended up being, for all the blood, was a tiny split in the lip, no stitches needed.

    Everybody said “It won’t be the last time.”

    Only thing is, it doesn’t get any easier.

  7. That would have been terrifying! I can’t even imagine how scared and helpless you would have felt. Glad to hear she is doing better now.

  8. It is so heartbreaking to watch your little one endure pain and not be able to stop it. I totally understand this feeling.

  9. It is so terrifying and the mother guilt never leaves. You run through how and what you could or should have done differently but then you do realise that you can’t be there every time. As they grow and venture off into the world we do have to let go and hope they are safe and okay and it is so hard. Lovely post written about those worrying feelings because of how much we love them.