Parent Traumas: #2, Fell out of the crib

Emilia climbed out of her crib today and fell head first into her Little People princess castle. She’s fine and recovered immediately after some nursing and a lot of ice packs, but it will forever be remembered as the worst day of my life. I almost got to her in time.

She’d just woken from her nap and I was reading work emails in the next room when I heard her cry. I knew I’d need to get her quickly since she’d not been too thrilled to be put down at 9 AM in the first place, for her first nap. Since she started falling asleep without rocking (on her own) she’s gotten better and better about settling herself down, without any tears or crying, but this morning, she’d wailed a bit and toed the crib like she was trying to climb the sides, but it was nothing like what I saw next.

Mere seconds before I was about to get up to rescue her, not even 30 seconds after I’d first heard her first cries, I watched the monitor in sickening horror as she swiftly threw her foot up over the edge of her crib rail and shifted her weight forward. I knew she was about to go over and tore towards her door which is just steps from where I was sitting. I crashed into the hallway and fell, clawing at her door knob so I (thankfully?) didn’t have to watch her fall. But the crushing despair as I stared at her empty crib with bated breath once I made it into the room is a feeling I don’t think I’ll ever forget or forgive. I started screaming No, No, No, No as I ran to her, as if that would undo what happened, and scooped her from the floor and held her to my chest as I rubbed her head and rocked her, trying to distract her.

Her silent, wide-open mouthed cries broke my heart but up to this point, I was screaming louder than she was and quickly realized I needed to calm down so I didn’t scare her more.

She cried and put her hand up to her forehead but quickly quieted as I ran with her to the freezer to get ice packs. For any mom who has nursed, you know how handy it is to calm or comfort a child when she’s upset is, so I nursed her for a half hour while I applied ice to the raised bruise on her hairline. She kept giving me these angry sidelong glances like this is definitely your fault. It was just about all I could do not to dissolve into tears. I felt like such a failure and kept replaying it and imagining how narrowly we avoided much more serious injuries — she could have broken her neck! — she could have gouged out an eye falling on one of the castle steeples! what if the ceramic garden stool had been a hair closer to the fall spot?! And also: how could I not have gotten her sooner, before she started to even cry? I know she naps for 1 hour on the dot; I knew she was in a fussier mood than usual. How could I not have saw this coming and lowered the crib mattress even more?

Thankfully, my mom arrived just as I finished nursing and assessed her while I filled Brian in by video chat (since my cell phone is still missing since last week). My friend Mike was nice enough to field my cryptic message to please call or text Brian because the baby had fallen out of her crib, but was OK and to get online ASAP. I don’t know what I’d have done without my mom here though. I didn’t break down actually crying until we went back into the nursery together for the first time following the fall and I actually looked at the height of the crib, the placement of the princess castle that she must have hit when she landed…

Emilia was in my mom’s arms but reached out to pat my back and arm and put her head on my shoulder and gave me some more arm and back pats as we had a group hug. She really is the sweetest little thing ever. She’s so loving and gentle and sweet, which is why it’s so hard to fail her like this.

I talked to my friend Shawna and some co-workers about what had happened and just dealing with the guilt of kids’ inevitable accidents which helped a lot. And hearing from the pediatrician that I’d done exactly what I should have following the fall was reassuring as well.

For her next nap, she started to cry as soon as I started to initiate the sleep routine in her room. We’d moved the mattress to the floor since I needed to disassemble it to lower the mattress, but I couldn’t bear her scared-sounding cries, so I held her while I laid down, then shifted so we were lying nose to nose. In seconds, she was nuzzled face to face with me, sound asleep which was just what I needed. I didn’t stay for her entire nap, but the few minutes of snuggles helped. I’d missed those. We haven’t co-slept in nearly a year and I’d forgotten how nice it is to feel her little body curled against mine and study her gorgeous lips and skin and eye lashes up close.

I’m trying to keep reminding myself that accidents happen and all we can do is try to deal with them as best we can. Don’t beat yourself up, but do try to learn from them. And most important of all, appreciate every single second with your little ones.




  1. Aww Wendy! Cut yourself some slack, mama! Accidents happen and I think a good percentage of kids fall out of their cribs at one time or another. As much as we want to protect our children from any possible hurt – we just can’t. Henry fell off the end of his queen sized bed when we first moved and I had that huge amount of Mom guilt too! Hang in there! You are an amazing mother 🙂

    1. Aww, thanks Stace! I just feel so terrible replaying it; I was so close to getting to her in time. I think the traumas of her tooth getting chipped and then this happening in the last three weeks was just a bit overwhelming. XOXO

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