When Your Heart Stops: A Terrifying Moment in Parenting

This just happened. It isn’t my typical writing style, but I had to write about it. To remind me never to let this happen again**. Here is a sort-of poem about it. I think.  Or just a lot of sentence fragments.


My heart stopped.

My Angel, my baby.

There you stood on the precipice of disaster.

So proud of your new skill,

The climbing.

So proud to be tall

Up on the kitchen table mountain.

Me. Terrified.

Unable to breathe.

No time to think

Only react.

I crashed through the baby gate,

Taking it out.

Flying to your side

Before the precarious position failed.

Praying I would not be too late.

I wasn’t.  I succeeded.

This time.

I swooped you into my arms

Holding. Squeezing.

My heart beat again

Racing with relief,

Pounding for what might have been.

The chair, your ladder.

It’s out of here.

Don’t you ever scare the crap out of me again,

My Lil Diva.

**Translation: As I changed a load of laundry, my baby girl climbed onto a folding chair by the kitchen table, and then climbed onto the table.  This is a skill she learned this morning while hanging out with Daddy as I tackled the mountain of laundry piled up. It had yet to be added to the Mommy Databank of Vigilance.

As I came down the stairs, I found her standing on the edge of the kitchen table. It is glass, and only supported in the CENTER.  ANY false move too close the edge or a shifting of her weight, and the table would’ve tilted, toppled, and she would have crashed onto the hard tile with the heavy glass top.

The kitchen table design and why climbing onto it was so terrifying.

It was one of the most terrifying moments I’ve experienced since becoming a parent.

Twenty minutes later and my heart is still trying to escape from my chest.

The folding chair is gone.

Meanwhile, Lil Diva discovered the box of baby wipes on the play room floor as I wrote this because I was unaware CG left them there.

And now she’s passed out from the secondhand stress experienced on my behalf – plus it’s nap time – on the floor.

I went to throw away a dirty diaper, wash my hands, and then found this.

A happy ending… for now.

Thank god.

Has your child(ren) ever given you a heart stopping moment?


About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos (www.writingwithchaos.com) sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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14 Responses to When Your Heart Stops: A Terrifying Moment in Parenting

  1. Kristina says:

    My kids are older. So there are lots more terror stories in my heart. Suffice to say, we’ve had more than 1 trip for emergency care. Hugs your babies moms and dads. It only takes a second…

    • We’ve had one trip to the ER so far, for a freak accident where Tackler slipped in the shower and needed stitches.

      I fear the day they drive away in a car without me. So it could be worse I suppose.

      Thank you for reading and commenting (I still read your missives religiously, just having issues getting time to comment – as I hate tapping them out on iPod).

  2. mypajamadays says:

    I hate those moments! I wish I could tell you it gets better. Not! My heart stopped recently when I realized I never asked if my 12 year old daughter was getting dropped off at the mall with her friend or if the mom was going with them! Thankfully it turned out they were fully supervised.

    • How are we supposed to let them drive someday? I mean they drive like maniacs here!

      CG did an “engineering” test and claims the likelihood of her actually being able to tip the table over are almost impossible (not enough weight and leverage to toss around) – to which I replied “She thrives on accomplishing tasks we previously deemed impossible.”

      Just glad we didn’t test the theory fully.

  3. B Jas says:

    Yikes, glad Lil Diva (& you) are all OK! Glass scares me, even on a good day. I see a glass of wine in your future. *calm*

  4. Did I ever tell you about the time my son who was 18m/o body checked the baby gate and literally tummy surfed down a whole flight of stairs? My heart leaped out of my chest as ran down the stairs and tried to remember where I put the portable phone so I could call 911. I expected to find a broken child, instead I found a little boy with not even a bump on him who turned over and giggled at me. One of the scariest moments of my life and he thought it was a game. I swear sometimes they are trying to kill us!

    • No! I never heard that story! Scary.

      I find The Tackler is about 98% lucky with his daring stunts – he also finds them a game. The only times he’s been truly injured were “freak” accidents: stepping on a book the wrong way, having it shoot out from under his feet, landing funny, and injuring himself in undiagnosable way (he couldn’t walk for several days but nothing was broken). The second major incident was slipping in the shower and cutting his forehead – requiring stitches and our first jaunt to the ER.

      I’m so glad your son was lucky. My son would try to repeat a “fun” experience like that, which would make live even more challenging.

  5. You pegged it! I wasn’t so lucky. I thought it was great when my 9-month-old started pulling herself to standing, and could let go and hover there for 15 seconds. I encouraged her to do it. I set her up to stand with a ball in her hand. She dropped the ball and went after it, and BANG! Bumped her head on the corner of her Zany Zoo (http://www.storebestprice.com/images_products/B__Zany_Zoo.jpg). She quickly developed a goose egg. My husband ran to the drug store for baby acetaminophen. She was alright, but I felt terrible. I’m glad to see we have a little climber, but I’ve got to be a better safety net! Thanks for this story–the diagram is both hilarious and necessary accompaniment to your story.

  6. I was very, very recently in my own heart-stopping moment. Mine involved an ambulance. 😦 But, aside from some hefty medical bills, everyone’s okay. I still shake when I think about it. Your poem so perfectly captures that heart-stopping moment when we realize one of our babies is in trouble. This motherhood stuff is brutal!


  7. Lori says:

    Been there and so done that! There is nothing more terrifying than realizing your child can climb, and usually right when you are not watching! I am so glad nothing happened! UGH – KIDS!

  8. Ironic Mom says:

    I like the new style! Matches the tension.

    Heart-stopping moment? I tend to block them all out so I can get up the next day. Last week, though, when I was wrestling with both my twins, I moved out of the way too quickly and they seriously bonked heads and started wailing. My heart didn’t so much stop as fall a few stories.

    Glad Lil Diva’s all right!

    • Yeah.. I know that “fall a few stories” sensation too.

      It’s always worse when you were a participant in something fun and then a “whoops” moment happens. We have a lot of those.

      Thanks for the compliment. My typical sarcasm just didn’t seem to work in that moment. Must have had something to do with the still present heart palpitations..

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