Content Warning: This blog post discusses the death of a child. To continue reading, scroll down.
I arrived at the residence sometime after 11:00 a.m. The decedent was a nine-year-old girl. She was on the floor of the living room. Her mother was at her side, crying. The day before, her mother received a call from the girl’s school, notifying her that the decedent had a small accident during gym class. She was running with a group of kids. She tripped and slammed the side of her head into the wall. The injury was serious enough that the school felt she should be picked up. They sent the mother home with a list of symptoms to watch out for.
Early the next morning, the mother checked on her daughter. Her daughter told her she didn’t feel well. The mother called her in sick to school the next day. A couple of hours later, she went to check on her daughter and found her unresponsive in bed. The decedent was pronounced dead at the scene.
Cause of death: Epidural hematoma (brain bleed.)
Manner of death: Accident.
It’s easy to read this and judge the parents for not taking action sooner. It’s easy to ask, “Why didn’t her mother take her to see a doctor?” But the thing is, unless you’re a parent you won’t understand. Parents don’t want to believe their children are seriously injured. They don’t want to believe that a headache is a symptom of a more serious injury or illness. I wasn’t a parent at the time of this incident but I am now. And as a parent, I know that these people did everything they knew to do for their child. She was loved. She was not neglected. She complained of a headache. They followed the directions on the sheet the school nurse sent home and gave her an over-the-counter pain medication.
This is the investigation that has haunted me over the years, especially now that I have three kids. Every time one of them falls and bumps their head, I think of this scene investigation.
Memorial Day Weekend
Let me begin by saying that my baby is okay. She is alive and well and stealing Legos from her brother. It’s important for everyone reading this to know that she’s okay. But over Memorial day weekend, we had a scare.
Early Saturday morning, my husband took my five-year-old to soccer practice while I stayed at home with my seven-year-old son and my two-year-old daughter. The seven-year-old was downstairs, watching television. The two-year-old was upstairs with me. We had a party planned for later that day and I was trying to get the house ready. At this moment, I was in my bedroom folding laundry. The two-year-old toddled into the room and held up two dolls for me to look at. Then she toddled out of the room. Not five minutes later I heard a crash. I ran into my son’s bedroom. The baby was lying on the floor, whimpering. She was between the bunk bed ladder and the wall. Obviously I didn’t see the crash but as far as I could tell, she had been trying to climb the ladder. For those of you who aren’t aware, my baby has scoliosis. She wears a two pound cast around her torso. The weight of the cast contributed to the loud crash I heard when she fell.
Let’s talk about what’s normal for my baby. Normally when she sustains any kind of injury, she screams bloody murder like there’s a zombie chewing on her foot. I pick her up, give her a hug and a kiss and less than a minute later she’s pushing away from me saying, “Down,”. Once I set her down, she’s off and running. This is normal for my baby. Whimpering is not normal. Her whimpering scared me.
According to this article posted on the Mayo Clinic’s website, symptoms of a mild traumatic brain injury include:
- Loss of consciousness
- No loss of conciousness – but appearing dazed, confused, or disoriented.
- Fatigue or Drowsiness
The list provided on the website includes a few more symptoms.
The two-year-old did not lose consciousness but at first site, she did appear dazed. She doesn’t have the verbal skills to tell me that she has a headache. She didn’t vomit but almost immediately after the fall, she appeared drowsy. This was just before 9 am. Her normal naptime is between 11 and 1 pm.
Because I didn’t want to believe there was anything wrong with my child, I picked her up and carried her downstairs. I’m still debating on whether or not I should’ve picked her up and taken her downstairs but that’s what I did at the time.
My two-year-old is a tiny peanut. She’s still getting formula to give her a few extra calories during the day. This child is a junkie when it comes to getting her bottle. She NEVER refuses. I offered her a bottle. She pushed it away. Did that mean she was nauseated?
Also under the list of alarming behaviors was the fact that she had no desire to leave my lap. This child is BUSY! She doesn’t sit still for anything. So the fact that she had no desire to get off my lap and knock over her brother’s Legos or chase one of the cats was also very alarming.
I placed her on my lap. Her eyes grew heavy like she was about to fall asleep. As I watched her, images of this nine-year-old girl flashed through my mind. I decided that she needed to see a doctor. But I had all these questions racing through my head. Is it okay for me to keep moving her? Would I cause further injury to her if I took her in and out of her car seat? What happens if she falls asleep in the car? Does that mean there’s a problem?
I picked up the phone and called 9-1-1.