I don’t set an alarm most mornings. Usually, I wait for my kids to wake up, and then I get out of bed and let them out of their rooms. One recent morning, I heard my daughter wake up and went to get her out of her crib. I opened her door to find her already halfway there. One of her legs was up over the side of the crib, and her other foot was on tiptoes as she tried to lift herself over the walls of her bed prison. I thought to myself that we needed to get my son a new bed this weekend, so he could pass his toddler bed down to her. She was not going to wait much longer for us.
Looking back, I should have realized that she was done waiting.
I put her down for her nap in the crib that afternoon, then listened over the monitor for her to start talking to herself when she woke up. Instead, an hour or so later, I heard her cry and start screaming. I raced in and found her with the same leg up over the side of the crib and her other leg stuck between the slats. It looked like she lost her footing with her bottom leg, and it popped through, knee first.
After I brought her leg down from the top, I tried pushing her other leg back through the slats. All the baby chub around her knees spread out like an anchor, effectively keeping most of her leg outside of the crib.
I tried turning her to the side. I tried easing it through. I tried wiggling her leg around. Nothing worked. She was completely stuck and wouldn’t stop crying. I called for my son to bring me my phone. Her 4-year-old big brother ran in with my cell phone and looked very concerned for his sister.
Just kidding. He told her he couldn’t think with all this yelling and to pipe down. Always the empaths, those 4-year-olds.
I explained to him that his sister was stuck and hurt and asked him to bring me some things to help keep her comfortable while I figured out what to do. I called my husband while he ran to his room and brought me one of the miniature chairs from his miniature table. I put the chair in her crib and sat her on it so she didn’t have to keep standing on just one leg. She looked more comfortable but was still crying. My call went straight to voicemail.
For a moment, I stood there, trying to console my daughter and trying to think of who else to call. My mind was blank from the stress of my child being in pain and my being unable to fix it. In the scheme of things, this was a relatively minor calamity, so this does not bode well for my ability to handle anything slightly dire. I may get myself one of those “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” bracelets just so I know I’m covered the next time my brain stops working while one of my children is dangling from the ceiling fan or gets their head stuck in between railings.
Finally, I remembered that my in-laws live nearby. My father-in-law answered, and I half-shouted at him in a voice much more panicked than the situation warranted that his granddaughter was stuck in her crib. He needed to drive over and bring an Allen wrench so I could take the crib apart and get her out.
My daughter continued to cry, and I shouted for my son again, instructing him to bring me my computer so I could put on a cartoon for her to watch, hoping that would calm her tears. Next, I asked him to go in the kitchen and get her some snacks and her water. A moment later, he arrived with pretzels and an entire jar of applesauce. I laughed, knowing he is still better in a crisis than his mother.
Once my in-laws arrived, I quickly realized that the Allen wrench was not going to do the trick. The slats weren’t designed to come apart and we were going to have to cut her out. It then dawned on me that nine months ago, when we moved into our house, it would have been a good time to get my neighbors’ phone numbers so I would have them in an emergency. Instead, I left my house and ran next door, knowing the man and woman in the house beside ours had a lot of tools and hoping they had what we needed.
Again, with more panic than was warranted, I told my neighbor that I needed a small saw to cut my daughter out of her crib. She proceeded to show me the various pieces of furniture she built herself, explaining that she had used a powered jigsaw on many of them. Yes, yes. Beautiful. Grab an extension cord and follow me!
Inside our house, I stood next to my daughter and held her hands, trying to comfort her. My neighbor plugged in her saw while my son proceeded to tell her the entire plot of the cartoon he was watching on Netflix before he scolded her for interrupting his show. Like I said, great in a crisis.
It was quick, but as soon as the saw turned on, my daughter fell silent and started shaking. Once one slat was cut, we bent it back enough to pull her leg out. As I lifted her up, I could feel the blood pulsing back into the now-free leg.
We were lucky enough with my son because he never tried to escape his crib. When I was pregnant with his sister, we moved him out of it to keep him from getting jealous when she came into the world and took ownership of it. If she hadn’t been born, he would probably be sleeping in the crib still, and likely until the bottom fell out under his weight in middle school.
The knowledge that we needed to move our daughter before she tried to make a break for it was always there, but we waited on it because she isn’t even 2 years old. I realize now that we should have taken her out before she ever tried to climb out, and we’re lucky she wasn’t injured in the process.
Going forward, I now have a game plan for emergencies. I have the phone numbers of all my neighbors saved in my phone. We are getting a landline installed for serious emergencies. And we have a mattress on the floor that my daughter is sleeping very comfortably on.