When Your Child Gets Hurt (And You Know It’s Your Fault)

Last weekend, while staying with my parents, Squidge decided to investigate their gas fire while it was switched on.

On previous visits he’d discovered that banging his cars the metal surround (whilst the fire was off) produced a very exciting noise, despite us repeatedly telling him ‘no’ and moving him away but so far on this visit he’d completely ignored the fire in favour of pushing his trains along the floor. So when I remembered I had a blog post I really wanted to finish I thought that I’d be fine sitting on the floor with the laptop while Squidge played only a few feet away.

Until he abandoned his trains, toddled over to the fire, put both hands flat on the glass front and screamed.

I dropped the laptop, scooping him up and running into the kitchen before sitting him on the worktop and holding both of his hands onto a partly defrosted carton of milk while he screamed in pain and fright. After a few minutes I turned his hands over and, at the sight of the patches of seared skin and blisters on his chubby little hands I felt so dizzy there was a second where I thought I might faint.

How on earth had I let this happen to my baby?

My Mum heard the commotion and when I told her what he’d done she grabbed him and ran to the bathroom to run cold water over his hands while I stood at the bottom of the stairs, feeling like a child and having no idea what to do next. With Squidge upstairs, unable to see or hear me I burst into tears of shock and fright at what had happened and how quickly…

We drove up to the hospital while Squidge  cried and I tried to soothe him and reassure him that everything would be alright. When we got to the hospital I jumped out of the car and, carrying Squidge, practically ran into A&E, desperate for someone to do something so that my little boy wasn’t in pain anymore.

We were seen in triage almost immediately, where the nurse wrapped Squidge’s hands in clingfilm and snapped at my mum about causing infections when she tried to give Squidge his beloved huggy ted to stop him crying. I understood what she was saying but my little boy was crying for his teddy and is too small to understand why he couldn’t have him or what on earth was going on. The clingfilm kept the air away from the burns, helping to ease the pain and for the first time since his accident happened, Squidge stopped crying.

The nurse showed us into a side room and a few minutes later a different nurse came in to give Squidge some strong, morphine based pain relief. Squidge looked at her suspiciously, wondering if she was going to do anything nasty to him but the medication worked quickly and he snuggled up in my arms, exhausted by the events of the past hour. The nurse asked how Squidge had managed to burn himself and I burst into tears, wanting to be brave for my scared little boy but also so frightened myself. The nurse was wonderful; kind and compassionate as she tried to reassure me that children burning themselves was far from uncommon and that we can’t watch them every minute of every day.

But I should have been watching him.

I should never have taken my eyes off him, not even for a second.

We waited for an hour or so before the doctor was able to see us but the pain relief was so effective that Squidge spent most of that time toddling around the room and chasing his toy trains with his hands still wrapped in cling film. The doctor was also very kind but when I reiterated what had happened he misunderstood, thinking we had been at home and asked me why the fire was somewhere Squidge could easily reach it. My heart pounded and my voice wobbled as I told him that we didn’t have anything like that at home which was why Squidge was so interested in my parent’s fire.

It sounded like an excuse even to me and a poor one at that.

The hospital we were currently at didn’t have a specialist burns unit and the doctor told us we’d need to drive to the burns unit at the Children’s Hospital nearly an hour away to have Squidge’s hands properly assessed. He said that it was highly unlikely that Squidge would need to be admitted but that the burns unit would be able to dress Squidge’s hands properly and make absolutely sure that the burns weren’t serious.

My Mum and I drove to the Children’s Hospital almost in complete silence while Squidge sat quietly in his car seat, transfixed by the motorway lights rushing past us in the dark. Both of us were scared and worried about Squidge but I took her quietness to mean that she was angry with me and blamed me for Squidge hurting himself.

I was furious with myself so why shouldn’t she be?

By the time we got to the Burns Unit it was well past Squidge’s bedtime but I hoped that they would be able to see us relatively quickly. These hopes were dashed when one of the nurses arrived with a hospital name band for Squidge and told us that she was almost certain that Squidge would need to be admitted to the unit and stay overnight. I had nothing with me apart from Squidge’s backpack which contained some nappies, a pack of wipes, a sippy cup, a packet of baby biscuits and his trains.

As it was already late and told my mum to go home and that I would call her as soon as the doctor had reviewed Squidge and his hands had been dressed. While Squidge explored his hospital room I tried to phone the Northern One at work but had to leave a cryptic message with the nurse who answered the phone for him to call my parents as soon as possible. I didn’t have my mobile phone with me and although all the beds had a combined TV and phone with free outgoing calls to landline numbers but incoming calls were charged and I had no money with me either.

By now Squidge was so tired that he just wanted to cuddle on my lap and fall asleep but he’d only been asleep for about 10 minutes when the nurse came to fetch us so that he could be bathed and have his hands dressed. Squidge was very confused as to why he’d been woken up and even more so when I undressed him and sat him in a strange bath but trustingly went along with everything. He sat in my lap, wrapped in towels while one nurse inspected his hands and the other nurse got all the dressings ready, only giving the occasional whimper until the nurse had to remove all the blisters and damaged, dead skin from his little hands.

My poor, brave little boy screamed and trembled, holding his shaking little hands out towards me so that I would stop the pain while tears streamed down his face.

Except I couldn’t.

Up until this moment I had always been able to make everything better for him; chasing away bad dreams, fixing bumps and bruises with a kiss and righting every wrong with a biscuit and a cuddle.

Now there was something that I couldn’t make better and he didn’t understand why.

I held him close, rocking him and reassuring him but in that moment I felt like the worst mother in the entire world.

After his hands were covered in huge dressings that reached all the way up to his elbows (and contained so much padding that his arms no longer fitted through the sleeves of his t-shirt) I carried Squidge back to his room and settled him in the brightly coloured hospital cot. He fidgeted and fretted while I stroked his hair and soothed him, finding it difficult to settle without huggy ted who had been relegated to the bedside drawer due to infection control reasons.

Even after he’d fallen asleep he carried on making little hicupping, sobbing noises for several hours whilst I lay on the camp bed in the too-warm room, unable to get to sleep. My mobile phone was still at my parent’s house and all the nurses were busy so I was alone in the dark with with my thoughts and my guilt.

Despite finally going to bed around midnight Squidge woke up early, unsettled by being in a strange place and the fact that he had huge, uncomfortable bandages on both hands. Despite this he’d returned to his normal, cheery self and toddled around the room in his nappy, waving at people through the window and babbling to anyone who came into the room whereas I was physically and mentally exhausted and feeling rather manky due to being unable to have a shower or even clean my teeth.

The doctor was satisfied that Squidge’s burns, although looking awful were superficial and that there was no reason to keep him on the burns unit any longer. I called my parents to come and collect us, who arrived with a ‘Hero in Training’ t-shirt that was several sizes too big (to facilitate Squidge’s boxing gloved sized bandages) and the new toy train that I’d promised him for being such a brave boy.

A week later Squidge’s hands are healing well and there should be no long term damage or even any scarring and I’m slowly managing to silence the internal voices that insist on telling me that the whole thing was entirely my fault.

I know that small children are curious and that they have to have a few accidents in order to learn that some things are dangerous and shouldn’t be touched. I also know that I can’t keep Squidge safe from everything; that he needs the freedom to explore and learn things for himself and that he’ll earn a few bumps and bruises along the way,

But I can’t quite banish the thought that if I was a better mum then this would never have happened.

Bruised knees and grazed elbows are one thing, but this?

I still think it’s my fault.

Louise is a full time mum, a part time neonatal nurse and award nominated blogger who has battled depression for many years but was particularly ill during her pregnancy. She lives with her husband (the Northern One) their little boy (Squidge) and their three guinea pigs who live in the kitchen. 

Louise blogs at 23weeksocks (http://23weeksocks.com) about lots of different (and seemingly unconnected) topics that she’s passionate about, including mental health, antenatal depression, neonatal care and baby loss. She’s also involved in #MatExp (https://www.facebook.com/groups/MatExp/); an online maternity experience campaign that was formed to help improve maternity services in the UK. As part of this she hosts the #MatExpHour Twitter chat every Friday and would love to see you there.

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18 thoughts on “When Your Child Gets Hurt (And You Know It’s Your Fault)

  1. Merry says:

    Oh what an awful experience for you all. Poor, poor you both. And you know, you’ll still be affected by it long after it has gone from his head.

    You know, I know you know, that mums always blame themselves and heap the guilt upon them self whether it’s fair or not fair at all to do so.

    It was one of those things, an accident, for which luckily no great harm has been done other than you’ve learned a scary lesson and he might be more cautious of fires. But it really was just an accident, which is totally different from intentional harm, a momentary lapse. No one is dead, no terrible long term injuries.

    Sometime mumming is letting go of the guilt so you can move on without the event doing real harm. Don’t let it knock you, it’s all okay. Nobody died xxx

    (Ps, drink Baileys!)


    • blopmamma2014 says:

      Thank you for your very sensible words; I do need to let go of the guilt but at the moment I’m finding it really difficult. I keep telling myself that he’s not going to remember this, especially if his hands heal with no scarring and that there’s no long term damage done.


  2. Mummy ms memories says:

    If you’d didn’t blame yourself you would be a bad mum.

    Don’t beat yourself up accidents happen and curiosity always gets the kids. My eldest did something similar with a hot lamp whilst on holiday grabbing the bulb. She now knows when we say no, it’s usually to keep her safe. Sending hugs. X


    • blopmamma2014 says:

      Thank you, I’m trying really hard not to beat myself up and as Squidge’s hands heal it is getting easier. I’ve been trying really hard to teach him what no means but so far I’m only having limited success.


  3. Vix at AnotherMumInLondon says:

    Poor Squidge and poor you. But it was a total accident so please don’t beat yourself up.

    I wrote a very similar post a few weeks back where my son burnt his hand on a central heating pipe. We also went to hospital and he was referred to a specialist burns hospital. After 2 weeks of dressings and numerous hospital visits he got the all clear. It’s sickening to think it happened but it was a total accident and he’s recovered now.

    All the best to you and little Squidge.



    • blopmamma2014 says:

      Sickening is exactly the right word. I’m so sorry your little boy went through something similar but I’m really pleased that he’s on the mend. Squidge’s hands are now mostly healed although he keeps looking at them with a concerned expression on his little face. Thank you for sharing your experience with me.


    • blopmamma2014 says:

      Squidge is lots better thank you 🙂 Both hands are now dressing free and apart from the occasional confused look when he catches sight of the scabs I’m not sure he really remembers what happened.


  4. bumbismom says:

    Well this was an awful ordeal and I’m sorry that you all had to go through it. I completely understand your guilt and would be feeling much the same but it really was an accident with no one to blame. You are certainly not a bad mother. I just read a post about a mom who was scared for her child, who loves her child beyond measure, and who never wants to see her child in pain because it breaks her heart- sounds like you are a caring, loving mom to me. Hugs.


  5. Jayne (@SMABLblog) says:

    Oh I could of cried for you whilst reading this.
    Mommy guilt is just the worst, I am exactly the same as you are though.
    You are an amazing Mommy because you are beating yourself about it, this shows you put your little one before yourself.
    These things unfortunately do happen and often out of our control as much as we try to smother them in our little safe world, accidents happen and make us feel shitty.
    It’s a tough job being a Mommy.
    Sending big hugs x #TwinklyTuesday


  6. min1980 says:

    OMG how awful. Glad that Squidge is healing well. My little Piglet is all over the place at the moment and it feels like it’s only a matter of time until something like this happens to him. You’re not a terrible mother, you’re human, like the rest of us, and it could happen to anyone.


  7. Mrs Tubbs says:

    That’s so frightening and I’m glad that Squidge is getting better. Don’t beat yourself up, children are curious and accidents happen, you can’t watch them all the time. Sometimes bad stuff happens, it’s no one’s fault and there’s nothing that could have been done to prevent it. #myfavouritepost


  8. Caro | The Twinkles Mama says:

    Aaah love — you can’t beat yourself up about this. It’s only natural for you to blame yourself but it’s really not your fault — we can’t have eyes everywhere and be there ALL the time. It’s impossible. We’re just doing the best we can, and sometimes life gets in the way. I hope Squidge feels better very soon xx

    Thanks for linking up with us on #TwinklyTuesday 🙂


  9. helen gandy says:

    Oh bless you……I had tears in my eyes reading this, it’s hard not to feel guilty at times like this, I remember when I turned my back for a second and my 6 month old rolled off the changer onto the floor, it took me weeks to get over the internal guilt you mention. That been said I’ve come to realise that kids are intrigued by things that they shouldn’t be and accidents do happen whether we are there or not. Don’t be too hard on yourself lovely, thanks so much for linking up to the #bestandworst hope you’ll pop by again X


  10. Jenny @ Let's Talk Mommy says:

    Its tough on the parenting guilt when your children get hurt because of you. We have had two accidents one with B’s finger getting cut OFF and surgery to put back on and one where MM eye got cut open falling on the tv entertainment center both hubby’s fault and he felt absolutely horrified on both occasions. But accidents happen we are already hard enough on ourselves parenting in general its hard to add that to the list. Bless you sending hugs.Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. I hope to see you again this week for another great round of #sharewithme


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