When Dylan started being able to do more than lie helplessly on his back waving his appendages in the air like a grumpy, overturned crab, we pulled his crib away from the wall and away from the wooden blinds that cover the window. I remember doing the same thing with Riley — specifically, I remember the moment when I read a local news story about the death of a baby at a home daycare, a strangling accident involving window blinds, and I remember putting down the newspaper and pulling the crib even further towards the middle of the room, shuddering.

Yesterday morning I heard Dylan grousing around in his bed and since he didn’t sound frantic I took my time going in there, stopping to make coffee first and let the dog out. When I opened his door he did his usual joyous routine of grinning hugely and clapping his hands, but I didn’t even see his happy face: I was too distracted by the electrical cord wrapped around his entire torso.

He’d reached through his crib bars and somehow managed to snag the thin white cord that runs down the wall from the small camera mounted above the window — the video monitor camera that points at his mattress, which we keep on at night until we go to bed. He was hopelessly tangled in the cord, it ran under his arms and around his chest and looped over one curling toe, and he sat there making his weird little R2-D2 bloops and bleeps at me, like, a little help over here?

My imagination needs no encouragement to go skittering down some pretty dark alleyways and I could envision with perfect clarity the horrific alternate outcome of this situation. The blue-faced, silent baby. The cord pulled tight around his neck. His body, twisted with its efforts to get free; the inevitable surrender.

Yes. Well. So. The crib is now in the middle of the damn room, practically. The cord has been secured out of anyone’s reach, even my own. We have all moved on to cheerier topics, except for the part where I keep seeing it, over and over. The cord. The baby. The unspeakable, unlivable possibility of what might have been.


90 Responses to “Sidestepped”

  1. bouncy czech on December 4th, 2008 1:32 pm

    i swore i wouldn’t be one of those overprotective parents but your story makes me wanna wrap my 4 month old in bubble wrap.

  2. Lisa on December 4th, 2008 1:59 pm

    Oh my, I have chills. I can’t even bring myself to read the other comments and we don’t even have children (yet). Thank god Dylan is ok.

  3. iidly on December 4th, 2008 2:20 pm

    holy shit.

    I remember walking back into the front room and finding Nick who was drooling and teething chewing on the power strip.

    oh god. Ugh.

  4. kristylynne on December 4th, 2008 2:26 pm

    Yikes, that is scary. Reminds me of the time I turned around in the kitchen and found my 10-month-old standing there holding a butcher knife. Christ, it could have been really bad.

    All you can do is your best. You’re doing that.

  5. sweetcheese on December 4th, 2008 2:29 pm

    I’m so sorry! When you get a chance, can you post a typically adorable picture of Dylan so I can get your scary image out of my head?

  6. Scared Witless « Shutter Bitch on December 4th, 2008 2:44 pm

    […] Sundry wrote about a scary incident with her youngest son, who is about a month or so younger than Baby Pita.  She talked about the everyday dangers we as parents are generally on the lookout for but that sometimes we miss things, and the reminder is often heartrendingly abrupt and soul-crushing.  Holy God, what if…  Her particular reminder came in the form of the cord from her video baby monitor, which her son managed to get himself tangled in while in his crib.  Luckily, the tangle was around his torso and toe, but it reminded her of a heartbreaking incident with a young toddler girl at a daycare that strangled in her crib on the window blind strings.  Bad things happen, and all we can do is our best to prevent them and try to be mindful of our kids’ surroundings. […]

  7. spacegeek on December 4th, 2008 2:45 pm

    I have a friend who reminds me that the first goal of parenting is Keep Them Alive For Another Day. And that sometimes, that goal is hard to achieve!! We all seem to have these terrible stories–mine involves a shopping cart and the cement grocery store flooring…

    As one poster said, people wonder why moms often look like sh*t. Uh yeah. We worry about EVERYTHING and the few times we don’t, we discover that we should have been…. aaggghhhh!

    Dylan is fine and let’s be grateful about that.

  8. Lisa on December 4th, 2008 2:47 pm

    Shit – this and the pool stories bring a horrible image of my 1 year old (now 4) who thought nothing of jumping into the pool…while he was standing right next to me. Because I was putting floaties on my daughter and she was standing directly in front of me, between the water and myself, all that I could do was scream for my husband who was slightly further away because I feared knocking her into the water in my haste to get to him. By the time my hubby jumped, Matthew had floated to the top of the water but his diaper had more bouyancy (sp?) than the rest of his body so his little hiney came up while his head still dangled down below. Long story, short, my husband got to him quickly and less than 5 minutes later he was ready to jump in again. I, on the other hand, couldn’t shake the vision of his little diaper butt coming to the top of the water and had quite a few unsettling dreams following that one.

  9. Cheri on December 4th, 2008 2:50 pm

    Okay, I can now add that haunting image to the horrific one from _Train Spotting_ (of the neglected, dead baby in the crib) and the one from an NPR special (This American Life?) where a guy confesses to suffocating his little baby brother with a plastic grocery bag when he was little and the parents thought it was SIDS. How am I every going to have kids now!?

  10. M on December 4th, 2008 3:16 pm

    My husband found a sheet of thin plastic in my daughter’s bed yesterday that totally could have killed her! I couldn’t for the life of me figure out where it had come from . . . and then I realized she had peeled the covering off of a large library book. I am as paranoid and anxiety-ridden as they come, and even I thought books were safe!!

  11. Joanne on December 4th, 2008 3:24 pm

    Oh you are making me cry! Every time my kids nap for like one second longer than they normally do or sleep later in the morning than they normally do I picture that scene. I think here I am congratulating myself that they are sleeping well and they’re probably gone. Motherhood…gross! :)

  12. Anon for this one on December 4th, 2008 3:25 pm

    Just this past weekend, I had my three month old baby in his carseat/stroller combo unit thingy out visiting family. It’s cold, and I had the Bundle Me fleece zippy thing in his carseat. I put him in the carseat to nap, and when we headed home, I just clicked the carseat from the stroller into the base unit in the car, and drove across the city, and home via freeway and city traffic.

    A short while after we arrived home, my husband asked, “Did you unbuckle his harness since getting home?”

    Uh, no. It was never buckled in the first place. Since he was asleep, and the BundleMe fleece thing was covering him up, I never noticed he wasn’t belted in. We drove 30 miles like that, with the baby totally unrestrained.

    I still feel like a real asshole.

  13. Amanda on December 4th, 2008 3:26 pm

    Oh my god. Just got nauseous, and I don’t even HAVE babies yet. Really wish I could give you a hug. Terrible picture in the brain… So sorry it’s lodged in there for you.

    Sweet Jesus. *shudder, gag*

  14. Kristen on December 4th, 2008 3:37 pm

    Oh good god. This scared the shit out of me and I don’t even have kids (although my newphew is just days younger than Dylan and I can see that happening and the horror you must have felt). Just remember that he is fine. Try not to beat yourself up too much.

  15. ML on December 4th, 2008 3:41 pm

    Oh, Linda. Chills all over and tears, too. I am so sorry. The imagination in the mind of a good mother is worse than all reality combined, isn’t it? You are amazing, though. Smooch Dylan for all of us!

  16. biscuit on December 4th, 2008 3:42 pm

    10 month old baby = super grabby hands syndrome

    I wish I had a spare bedroom I could rubberize to keep her in at all times. Ones with no ledges or any of my stuff she could chew on.

    omfg babies give you wrinkles!

  17. Kaitlyn on December 4th, 2008 3:57 pm

    Oh my gosh, horrifying. Someone was watching over him at that moment. I had a similar moment with my daughter who was about 4 months at the time. Her older sister was playing with letter magnets and had given her the “O”. She had shoved it directly into her mouth and had one little finger looped through it holding on, but four month old babies let go of things so fast and the whole magnet was in her mouth and uhhh, it was just one of those moments you can’t make yourself forget or stop imagining what may have been. Needless to say, the magnets went into a tupperware container in the cupboards until everyone is older.

  18. Nicki on December 4th, 2008 4:03 pm

    They did a whole show on Oprah about things like that. In fact, there was one mother who had a very similar story in which ahe heard her baby making weird noises but waited a few minutes to go up to his room, because she was busy and figured he was just playing, and when she got there he had some sort of cord wrapped around his neck. (She managed to get him free in time to save him, thank God!) Life is full of those “almost a tragedy” moments. My every day is full of them. Moments like that are what make me believe in angels.

  19. Kathryn on December 4th, 2008 4:12 pm

    I have a vivid, horrible imagination too when it comes to my kiddo. It’s no fun. Try not to let it take over your thoughts. Thank goodness the worst didn’t happen. And don’t beat yourself up either. We all do the best we can every day.

  20. Heather C on December 4th, 2008 5:04 pm

    It’s amazing to me how small kids seem to go out of their way to find the most dangerous thing in the room. And it’s always things you would never even think about in a million years.

    I’m really glad Dylan is OK. Please be OK, too.

  21. Brenna on December 4th, 2008 5:15 pm

    God, this is the stuff that will haunt us forever, long after it’s over and done with. I can’t remember so many of the nice things that involve my kids, but I can still visualize, with perfect clarity, the time I almost dropped my son on his head on to a concrete floor, barely catching his ankle before he hit. Six years ago. And when I watched from across the room as my older daughter, seemingly in slow motion, stuck her chubby baby hand in a cup of coffee (which thankfully turned out to be cold). That was nine years ago.

    I’m so, so happy that Dylan is okay.

  22. velocibadgergirl on December 4th, 2008 6:08 pm

    OH, I HATE HATE HATE those moments of so close, what if horribleness.


  23. jodi on December 4th, 2008 6:24 pm

    This exact thing happened to me last year. I don’t let myself even think for a second what might have been. Live and learn, right?! With two kids under the age of 3, I am slowly realizing that the more I try to keep them safe, they find even more dangerous and crazy things to get into!

  24. SJ on December 4th, 2008 6:26 pm

    I’m so, so, so happy that Dylan is okay. As a Mom I’ve had my own What-If moments as well and I totally understand how you must be feeling.

    Happy thoughts!!!

  25. nonsoccermom on December 4th, 2008 6:35 pm

    OH. SO scary! Parenting is terrifying, isn’t it? I can hardly read things like this without getting chills all over. I’m so glad Dylan is okay.

    I must go hug my baby now.

  26. Ellen on December 4th, 2008 7:51 pm

    Oh this is the kind of thing that makes me jump up just before I fall asleep because I just need to make sure she’s ok. Oh the unspeakable horror of the thought of losing my baby…

  27. Ellen on December 4th, 2008 7:59 pm

    P.S. When we were taking hubby’s parents around NYC this fall, I couldn’t let anyone else hold her at the top of the Empire State Building. My husband is nothing if not careful of our daughter, but that guard fence has holes that could fit babies through and I just pictured her making an unexpected squirm. I hugged her close and stayed against the inner wall the whole time. I’d seen it all before anyway. :-)

  28. alison on December 4th, 2008 8:51 pm

    Oh, GOD, Sundry! So glad the lil’ one is ok and cord free! No kids here, but reading this entry and your reader’s comments made me remember an incident from my youth through my mother’s eyes and…JESUS. NO wonder she was overprotective afterward!

    I was 8, racing mountain bikes through a construction site for a new house going up in the neighborhood. (Hey, I didn’t say I was BRIGHT)I hit a gravel mound, lost control and went face first into the ground, skidding on my right cheek for about six feet.

    When a (very, very kind neighbor) carried me home, I’ve never seen my mother’s(or any living person’s) face go so white. I’d taken off the entire right side of my face and was dripping blood everywhere.

    I’ve only ever thought of how it affected me-the scars and stitches, etc. I’ve never once thought about how her heart must have stopped beating that day.

    I need to go call my Mom.

  29. erin on December 4th, 2008 8:56 pm

    Am shuddering with you. My in-laws’ have blinds with really long cords that scare the poo-poo out of me when my kids are in a room by themselves. They also don’t put outlet covers on the outlets. And pushed an old rickety crib against one of the outlets and expected us to put our then-baby girl in there to sleep.

    Uh. No. I still have nightmares about that one. I am glad Dylan is okay. And you will be, too.

  30. Allison on December 4th, 2008 9:13 pm

    Dude, I know I don’t know you, but you and Dylan were in my dreams last night, no joke (I woke up thinking, aww Dylan! So cute!). Is it weird when you start dreaming about bloggers you’ve never met? Anyway, poor poppet! Good to know he’s ok.

  31. Leah on December 4th, 2008 10:33 pm

    We just installed the monitor this evening. The crib fits the width of the room with only about five inches to spare, so the cord? Is a mere five inches from the crib. Obviously it will be a little while before our guy has the motor skills to actually get at the cord, but I think we’ll find a way to prevent this happening down the road by doing something about it TONIGHT. Jesus.

  32. Comedy in unexpected places « bessie.viola on December 5th, 2008 5:24 am

    […] 2). What in the hell color curtains should I hang in the living room? I’d like to do roman shades to highlight the moulding, but am unsure on color (and have been for going on two years now). After reading Linda’s post and all the comments, I am now terrified of blinds and feel I must rid my home of them immediately. […]

  33. Anonymous on December 5th, 2008 9:11 am

    maybe there’s hope for you. maybe you do give a shit about your kid.

  34. Val on December 5th, 2008 9:14 am

    What! No pictures? OK Just kidding. I’m sure your heart will stop beating out of your chest in a few days – maybe.

  35. ElizabethZ on December 5th, 2008 10:33 am

    Just realized what a dumbass I am for spelling DYLAN’s name wrong. Sorry, everyone I know with that name spells it Dillon and I must have just done it out of habit. For the record, I like your spelling of it much better.

  36. Dina on December 5th, 2008 11:39 am

    oh man, i know those moments.. i think every mother has a bunch of them… doesn’t make them suck any less though.

  37. Sonia on December 6th, 2008 12:03 am

    Oh how terrified you must have been in that first glance!!! Gah! *shudder* Hoping you can get that alternate ending out of your head SOON. (I do the same thing)

  38. lisa-marie on December 7th, 2008 3:47 pm

    God, that is terrifying! I’m so glad Dylan is okay!

  39. Mary Helen on December 11th, 2008 1:41 pm

    Oh, oh, oh. I’m so glad he’s ok. I’ve had similar situations and my imagination goes wild. It’s funny how a person can so vividly picture the horrible things that COULD happen. Banish the thought.

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