Monday, March 7, 2011

NC trip: Firepit accident details

I think everyone who reads this blog probably heard by now that Carter fell into a campfire on Friday night. We were incredibly lucky that everyone on the scene worked together to do exactly what we needed to do, and in the end Carter had only minor injuries. It could have been SO much worse.

First, here are a few pictures from before the accident. Here is Carter going for a walk in the woods with Nana.


Saying hello to Papa's horses:


Playing on Papa's tractor:


Playing with his cousins:


Watch out for Carter's crazy driving!


Running around on the farm:


And enjoying the weenie roast around the campfire:


Donna and her kids had gone home and the fire burned down to embers, and Carter was wandering around while the grownups sat by the fire and talked. He was walking between my dad and the fire, and then he stopped and turned, and the next thing I knew, he just tumbled over backwards into the embers. It happened in slow motion, and then everything after that is blurry.

I wrote this the next day:


We're visiting family in NC, and last night my dad built a campfire and we had a weenie roast. It was great fun, but at the end of the night when the fire had burned down to embers, my 3yo son Carter suddenly tumbled backwards into the fire pit.

Everything after that is kind of a blur. My father yanked him out; we were all rolling him and screaming and beating at embers in his hair and ripping his clothes off. He had a fleece hoodie on, and it was melting as we took it off. Fortunately he had a double-layer cotton shirt underneath, and that protected him. (Natural fibers FTW.)

He was screaming that it hurt, and I remember beating out flames on his jeans, and someone poured water from the cooler onto him. We got all of his clothes off and someone got a flashlight and shined it on his back. I expected the worst, but there was only a line of burns across his lower back, in the gap between his shirt and jeans.

He was sobbing and clinging to me and saying, "I fell in the fire!" over and over. All I could do was hold him and say, "Yes, you did."

Someone had called 911 and the paramedics came, and I carried him naked up to the house to wait for them. They took us in the ambulance to a hospital with a pediatric ER. I was on the gurney with Carter lying on my chest, and they strapped us down. He fell asleep on the way.

In the ER they cleaned him up and gave him a painkiller and told us we were incredibly lucky. Which we were. He has some 2nd degree burns, and a lot of singed hair, but otherwise he's fine. We have to keep his burn bandaged up and clean it and apply medicine a few times a day. But otherwise he acts like there's nothing wrong - you'd never know by looking at him.

Here is what's left of his jacket:




The hood was on when he fell, and that probably kept his head from catching on fire. A lot of the hair on the back of his head melted, and he's going to have to have a short haircut, but it's better than a burnt scalp.

And today, he's fine. You'd never know a thing was wrong. He's been running around and playing, and except for taking painkillers and having a big bandage on his back, it's almost back to normal.

I can't bear to think about what might have happened. This is my baby, the baby it took us 6 long, painful years to have, who came too early, whose birth almost cost me my life. This is the only child I'll ever have, and to think how close we came to disaster - I kind of want to vomit.

But he's fine. We're fine. If I believed in angels, I'd say they did their job last night. And every time I hug him I smell his burned hair, and I see him falling into the fire all over again.

I feel like the luckiest mama in the world right now.


And I do, I really do.

But little kids tend to be very resilient, and Carter is no exception. The next morning, he was ready to go, as if nothing was wrong. We went to watch my sister Nicci's riding lesson. Carter's attention was caught by this tractor, and in this picture you can see his hair all melted in the back.


The fresh burns on his back didn't stop him from running around and playing.

He loves animals, and enjoyed feeding Nicci's horse Joker a snack.

I love this picture of him looking up as Joker ate his apple.


Later that afternoon, he helped Grandma in the garden. Digging in the dirt is one of his very favorite things to do, and I was glad he didn't miss the chance!


I think we were all amazed at how he bounced right back. He slept like a rock when we got home from the hospital that night, and most of the grownups didn't sleep much. He talks about it every now and then, but insists he no longer has any burns on his back. When I ask him if it was scary to fall into the fire, he says, "Not anymore." The tape from the bandages was starting to irritate his skin, so I finally started taping the pads to his pull-ups, and that seems to work fairly well. It's nearly impossible to keep a bandage attached to the lower back of a very active child anyway. His burns are healing really well:


His hair was really a mess. The hair right at the back of his head had burned within an inch of his scalp, and I finally decided to cut off the burned chunks with scissors. He looked like he had a mullet at that point, so I decided to take him for a haircut today. The stylist did a great job and managed to cut out almost all of the burned hair, and left it fairly long and shaggy.


I don't know if Carter will remember any of this, but I will. I don't think any of us who were there that night will forget. I'm sure it's not going to be my last time in the ER with Carter, but I'm so, so grateful that it wasn't any worse. If just a few things were different, we could have wound up in a burn unit, with horribly scarring injuries, or worse.

After a NICU stay, two surgeries, and now this, I'm ready for a few years with no hospital visits. Someone once said that having a child is like having your heart walk around outside your body, and it's so true.

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