Friday, February 10, 2012

*At the gym today, I saw an ad for Komo 4 news that gave a glimpse of a segment they are doing at 11 o'clock about the dangers of fireplaces and small children. We had our own horrific experience with that. I almost started crying while on the treadmill. So because it still worries me, I'm reposting about our experience. Maybe it will keep someone else from letting their little one wander too close.*

Parenthood:Not for the faint of heart. Originally posted May 11, 2009

Saturday began beautifully. Clear, blue skies. Warm breezes blowing. Children trampoline jumping and bike riding. Delicious food eaten outside.

If only it ended that way.

We were enjoying a delightful visit with Grandma and Grandpa, Jeff's parents. Relaxing inside after the previously mentioned delicious food. The children were scattered throughout the house and the neighborhood, reading, playing with friends.

Why is it that in stories, these peaceful moments are interrupted with blood curdling screams? Sadly, such is the case in this story as well.

We heard Nora, crying a cry that meant only one thing: terrible pain.

We rushed to the family room where she had been. Kate was already bringing her to us, panic on her face.

"She fell against the fireplace and it's on!"

I took Nora from her, immediately looking her over, trying to find the cause of the screaming while asking "Why was the fireplace on?" The gas fireplace, warming in wintertime. But with glass that heated to temperatures that could burn.

As Jeff and I looked her over, we could see a layer of skin gone from a patch on her forhead, the instant blistering on her cheek. The immediate devastation as we realized that our baby, our sweet, tiny little girl was burned.

How badly we didn't know, but immedately it was clear she needed medical help.

Thankfully, Don and Donna were there. Donna calmly told us to just go and they would take care of the kids.

Jeff and I rushed to the car trying to remember where the nearest emergency room was. Too far away we came to find out. But there was an urgent care nearby. With Nora on my lap, writhing in pain (oh how I wish that weren't true!) we made our way through stop lights and traffic, trying to remain calm, I was unable.

I cried with her, I stroked the unburned side of her face. Repeatedly saying "I love you, I love you, I'm so sorry!" Even now, I can't type it without tears. I tried to keep her from touching it, and all the while she screamed.

Jeff dropped us off at the entrance and I ran in with her. As soon as I said she was burned they had someone take us back immediately. Jeff filled out the paperwork and then joined us. His own soothing words to Nora, his own grief filled face. Nora still crying in agony.

They asked us what happened. We tried to explain. We still don't know how or why the fireplace was on.

They looked her over. Was there damage to her eye since her eyelid was burned as well? We were forced as her parents, to help hold her down, while her tender eyelid was held open so that they could put drops in that would help to see if her cornea had been damaged. Thankfully, it looked fine.

But you must know, the entire time, Nora looked at me, looked at me with pleading to make it stop. To please help her, to rid her of the tremendous pain she was feeling. And all I could do was tell her I was sorry, that I loved her, stroke her little legs, kiss her. I was screaming on the inside, trembling with the effort it took to not scream outwardly at them to make the pain stop. To help her. All the while, her eyes locked on mine, begging for relief.

Then we saw her hands. Her left hand, a match to the left side of her face. Red, raw, blistered, twisting in a way that seemed to be trying to throw off the pain somehow. Her right hand, fingers blistered, not as badly, but still unbearable to look at.

Then thankfully, mercifully, the motrin given, the ointments applied. The crying slowed to a whimper. The exhaustion from all the pain and crying took over, and she slumbered in her daddy's arms.

And as we sat there, I could feel it. I could feel the prayer that was said on her behalf. And I told Jeff "They're praying for her. The kids, your parents, I can feel the prayer that they said for her" And I cried anew. Feeling the love that was pouring over us, for us. A loving Heavenly Father answering the prayer of Nora's brothers and sisters, of her worried grandparents.

And she continued to sleep. Peaceful. Safe.

They discharged us, told us to bring her back the next day for a recheck of her burns.

Again I held her on my lap on the way home. Her hands wrapped in burn cream and gauze. Her face glistening with anti-biotic ointment. I kissed her head, stroked her skin, melded her to me. My own personal agony still fresh inside me as I held this precious girl. But mindful, thankful that it was not worse. That we were bringing her home instead of sitting by a hospital bed.

At home, more prayers said, hugs and loves, and Nora settling back in.

She has second degree burns on her hands and face. We'll be taking her to Harborviews burn unit just to make sure. She's so little. Overly cautious we will be.

And yes, the fireplace has been turned off with the key. No more flip of the switch will ignite it.

And yes, I feel guilty. Even if there is no blame assigned, as her mother my job is to protect her, to prevent injuries, to foresee potential hazards and remove them. Even when that is unreasonable, as a parent you can never help but feel this way.

Now, I will gather my children a little closer, hug them a little tighter, kiss them more frequently and express my love more often. That in itself has healing power, for all of us.

And not for the faint of heart.

A picture.

Of Nora.

Healing. New wrapping. Tylenol with codeine, heaven sent.

My heart breaks a little every time I look at her. I retreat mentally when I gaze at her wounds, so that I can hold it together and not cry imagining how it felt to have her tender baby skin pressed against searing glass.
Obviously, it's a work in progress. And perhaps, until she is completely healed, that feeling won't leave me. I couldn't suffer the pain for her, I couldn't take it away, no matter how I wanted to. So I allow myself to imagine it, to suffer mentally, to feel anguish for not being able to protect her adequately. Empathy. In this instance, it's my bizarre language of love.
But it is love. Love for her, love for my other children. Love for any child or parent who has suffered pain or grief. Perhaps I'm a bit melodramatic, but know that I am aware of how fortunate we are. That this is a minor bump on the road of life. She will heal, it will be fine.
In fact, she's in her high chair throwing cereal everywhere. It seems that she is ready for life to be normal. No more sadness mamma. Feed me, love me, hug me and kiss me.
I'm good to go.


  1. I had second degree burns to my hands as a 9 year old. You are right to imagine the pain, and happily she will be too young to remember it. That said, stronger is the memory itself of my loving parents, stroking my forehead, feeding me, whispering words of comfort. Now many years later I don't remember the feeling of being burned - but that love and comfort I will always feel (and remember) forever.

    You and Jeff are the best...

  2. Oh good lord in heaven, I am welling with tears reading this and seeing this. Oh so able to put myself there!!!!! Well my dear friend you would never know to look at her now and you are a super duper fantastically amazing mother!!

  3. Oh my goodness, this story breaks my heart. Nora is such a sweetie. It's scary how quickly things can happen to our sweet little kiddos. You are a great mom and I look up to you so much!!! I love you tons.


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