I've listened as people told me to be careful, I shouldn't cook while wearing my kiddos. And I've kinda laughed it off. I had 3 years under my belt without so much as a burnt fingertip on a child, so OBVIOUSLY I knew what I was doing. Thanks, but no thanks. I'll do as I please. Until December 11th.
That is the day that my 8 month old baby boy ended up at the Harborview Burn Unit.
Maybe it's because I was dead tired. Maybe it's cause I had a pretty bad cold and my common sense was numbed a bit. Any way you look at it, I was a GIANT idiot and my son paid the price.
I decided to make some fresh pea and sunchoke soup for dinner. I added stock and peas and roasted sunchokes and brought it all to a boil. Then I carefully ladled it into the blendtec. I was wearing little man at the time. Girlfriend was standing on a stool at the stove helping me cook. Hubbs was making sure girlfriend was not getting into trouble while doing that. I suggested he take the baby, but saw that he was with her, and decided I would just keep him on me.
I will tell you that I obviously filled the blender too much. And perhaps I should have instinctively known that. But I will also tell you that I read the blendtec manual when we bought it, and there's not a warning on there to not fill it after a certain point because it will blow the lid off. That motor is powerful. I had my hand on the lid. Little man was facing against my chest. It started to blend, and the soup started to erupt through the lid, burning my hand. I turned away from the blender, thinking I'd be protecting him. Instead of just hitting a button to stop the stupid machine from blending. Worst decision ever. The lid blew off entirely and rained down hot chunks of soup. I yanked him out of the ergo and literally threw him in the sink, washing it off. It took a minute to get his onesie off because he was struggling. Then I ran upstairs and put the both of us right in the bathtub to keep his skin cool and wet. I was fully clothed still. That's when I noticed that the skin on his arm started peeling.
We decided to take him to the ER. Why we thought it would be faster than calling an ambulance, I'll never really know. So many bad decisions that night. While hubbs drove, I was spraying a naked little man down with breast milk. I knew it healed sunburns, and I hoped it would help. But it didn't stop the skin from bubbling and blistering up. It might be one of the most horrific things I've ever seen. We got to the hospital, and couldn't find the ER, so we just went to the NICU, where girlfriend spent her first 2 months. The security guard there called an ambulance (the ER moved to a different campus), but the ambulance decided to take us straight to Harborview Burn Unit in Seattle. I think that's when it sank in that we did some serious damage to this poor baby's skin. And I would have a real hard time forgiving myself for this one. Luckily (???) for me, I had a lot of experience with babies and trauma, so I put on my game face and did what I needed to do. There's no crying in baseball and burn units, right?
We sat in the ER (not pleasant, especially for a 3 year old) for about 3 hours before being moved to a room in the burn unit. Everyone- ambulance EMTs, docs, nurses- all amazing. All reassuring me that this kind of thing happened all the time. That his burns were 2nd degree, but looked pretty superficial, so there shouldn't be any scarring. That there were only a few spots where the burns were white (apparently the white ones are deep). That the blisters that continued to bubble up and then burst all over little man and I were normal and supposed to happen. That he won't remember any of this. That yes the sheriff had to file a report on the incident, but it seemed pretty straight forward so we probably wouldn't be interviewed by CPS.
But mom guilt.
We finally went to the burn unit around 11 pm. Hubbs had taken girlfriend to the cafeteria to get some dinner, since ours currently resided all over the kitchen counters, cabinets, and floors. They stayed long enough to find out what room we would be admitted into. Little man and I hung out in a wound care room. I never ever ever want to be in a wound care room again. Everything is metal covered in plastic bags. Super sterile. And they told me they'd give him more oxycodone and a sedative, so that he wouldn't remember what they were about to do. I say they. Turned out it was the nurse and I. I did a lot of things in the NICU I never thought I'd have to do to my baby. But this?? This was the worst. I had to hold him down while they took tweezers to the blisters and dead skin to clean the wounds. Next to him, on my hands and knees, trying to hold him still and nurse him to calm him, while he screamed bloody murder. That's a forever image. Along with burning him in the first place. December 11th can suck it.
Thankfully, she was super efficient and got it done in about 6 minutes. She bandaged him all up and he immediately fell asleep on me. And I finally let it all go. I'm pretty sure I cried all night. I "slept" in 15 minute increments. Thank God, he slept next to me and was out until they had to wake him at 9:30 the next morning for his next round of wound care. This one not nearly as bad. I once again got my shit together to help torture/ bathe my son.
He slept through the rest of that day for the most part. He managed to sleep through his physical therapy, where I learned how to do stretches with him so the skin stretches naturally and doesn't pucker or stiffen. More and more realizing how bad this burn actually is. And the kicker? The soup got all over my hand, arm and chest. I didn't ever really wash it off, it kind of wiped off a bit when I took off my soupy clothes to go to the hospital. And everything was bright bright red. But by the time we got to the ER? I had ZERO MARKS ANYWHERE. None. Not a bubble. Not even patchy red skin. I've never bruised easily, I've never broken a bone, and I heal really quickly. But this was just effing ridiculous. Am I made of leather? How the hell did my son get burned SO BADLY and I walked away without a mark? Not helping the mom guilt. And I feel like the cops were probably not believing my story since I was unscathed. I knew they wouldn't....but I had this fear in the back of my head that they might take my baby from me. All not helpful.
We were discharged from the hospital late afternoon the next day. With bandages, lotions, tylenol, oxy, and a little man bundled up in what looks like mouse pads (they release silver into the wounds which is anti-microbial and help heal and seal off the burns from air). All except for the chin, which we have to clean and bandage up twice a day. Not fun, painful for him, but at least it's healing.
And here's where I really struggle. I know a lot about what garbage they put in meds, in lotions, in vaccines. It was strongly recommended that he get the tetanus immunoglobulin and the tetanus vaccine (DTAP). I obviously saw the wounds, and knew him getting tetanus would be disastrous. So I said yes (although we gave him the immunoglobulin that night, and waited until the next day to do the vaccine). We had said we weren't gonna vaccinate him at all until he was at least 2...but sometimes you just gotta roll with it.
And I'm not a monster, so I obviously was not gonna say no to pain meds for him. To be honest, I was just SUPER thankful that they didn't pump him full of anti-biotics. I thought that would have been the very first thing they did, but they didn't at all and I'm forever grateful for that! But tylenol has some serious nasty crap in it. We're trying to see when we can wean him off of it without him suffering. And the lotion. It's in his open wounds, and it has ingredients that I'm just so not ok with. But we decided we'll stick with the lotion they gave us until Friday, when we have our followup, and then we'll switch to my lotion, and I'll add aloe to it. I did ask the doc, and he was delightfully surprised that I make my own lotion, and also said that it should be ok if the medicated lotion we are giving him started to give him a rash. But for now, he seems to be tolerating it, so I'm pretending not to know the chemicals in it and just sucking it up.
I was convinced that I would have one child who didn't have medicine as a part of their early life. I see some of the stomach issues girlfriend has, and I do think that some are linked to early meds (lifesaving meds, but meds all the same). And on top of me possibly scarring my son for life, I'm also really upset that he has to be on pain medication, and that we had to vaccinate him earlier than planned (and in all honesty, I most likely was NOT going to get him DTAP vaccinated). And I know, I KNOW, that advances in science and medicine are the reason why BOTH of my kiddos are alive right now. But out here in the crunchy northwest, I am also lucky enough to have doctors acknowledge the power of things like breastmilk, skin to skin contact between baby and mom, more natural options in medicine and healing. The nurse doing the wound care on little man was the one who suggested I nurse him during the procedure. I was afraid I would be in her way, but she understood how powerful and comforting that could be for him. And I'm forever grateful for that attitude both in the NICU and the burn unit.
All in all, I'm just having a huge bout of mom guilt. I still have some serious mom guilt for not being able to "incubate" girlfriend through the full 40 weeks. And once again, my body (and this time, my brain) failed my child. I know it'll soon subside, for the most part. But it sucks. December 11th sucks. My blendtec sucks. Not sure I'll ever make soup again. As it stands, I've only managed to make breakfast once since we've been home (today, since the hubbs went back to work and I have to feed my child). Tonight will be the first time I make dinner. And you can be damned sure that little man will be in daddy's arms while I'm doing it.
I am still a huge proponent of baby wearing, and I still know that if I didn't wear them while cooking, then cooking would not have been done. But I'll never use a blender or food processor again while wearing them. And I'll be a million time more thoughtful and careful about my actions in the kitchen, instead of just pushing to get it done.