I’m definitely not ready to blog about the whole accident and experience, but I have been thinking about what I am SO glad to know now, as a parent, after this experience. I can handle talking about that part and sharing what I feel like could help or serve other parents and families so we’re going over four things that we are GLAD to know now afterward and want you to know, too!
1. Carseats are AMAZING — and KEEP YOUR KIDS REAR FACING UNTIL THEY HIT TWO.
I was just like some of you, “but my kids legs are long! They’re too big for that. I have to flip them. They’ll be fine!” We were doing everything we were supposed to do, and someone ran a stop sign in the rain. We could *not* have avoided what happened to us. Regarding facing the rear… I have flipped both Cammy and Ellie at around 1 1/2 years previously because the law only stated until 1 year old…although it’s either been changed or they’re trying to change it. I’m so glad we know better now! If you followed the story on Instagram, you heard that Autumn only had very slight bruises on her thighs. WE DO NOT EVEN UNDERSTAND how this is all this child had…except for the fact that her car seat did its job and she was rear facing. Her body undoubtedly would have had a different experience had she faced forward during this crash. I love you all and want you to have the best possible result in the scariest possible accident situation and there is an entire list of reasons to rear face them. I understand they get fussy and frustrated not being able to see you. I know their legs are long. I know, I know, I know. But that saved Autumn’s life. I know not all accidents have the kind of outcome ours did, and we pray several times a day that we lived but we do know that our carseats were like angels squeezing and hugging our daughters that rainy night.
Ellie’s injuries were pretty bad friction burns from the seat belt. Looking back, what we would have done differently is have the car seat straps not touching her bare skin or had those seatbelt covers (tightly secured) on top of her straps so she didn’t get burned so badly. Those were sad to see and hard to treat.
Cammy’s face was cut up on the side so we think her face slammed up against the side of the left part of the car seat where it’s made of hard plastic. Initially we thought the glass from her blown out window had been stuck in her face but it was just from the carseat, thankfully.
Their carseat brands during the accident:
Safety First for Cammy and Ellie (See the plastic on the side near the face? That’s what Cammy hit her face on. Similar to this one)
GRACO for Autumn (INFANT SEAT! Keep them in infant seat as long as they can stay in one!) This was her seat.
After a car accident, you can’t keep the same car seats because they’ve been through heavy impact. At 6am when the local Walmart near WakeMed opened, Mike’s dad had to go buy three new carseats for us to be able to transport the girls home in. (So, so grateful!!!) Our new car seats are wonderful and take into account the head being thrown around to hopefully avoid what Cammy experienced last time and seem like they would mostly shield any debris coming from the side, too! Also, they have built in cup holders which we’ve been looking for — the attachable ones just NEVER worked for us.
The ones we have now are similar to this one from Evenflo.
2. Memorize more people’s phone numbers!!!!!
The nursing staff agreed with us, no one knows numbers any more! I don’t even know any numbers by heart except Mike’s and my Dad’s. I felt so horrible I didn’t even know my own sister’s number but with technology nowadays, we are choosing a name and pushing a button, not dialing a full phone number! I would make it a point to put those numbers in your brain as fast as a you can. Not being able to get in touch with anyone was so difficult because when my adrenaline wore off from the whole crazy accident rush of having to survive in a panic situation, I got so sick I couldn’t think straight. They were asking me questions and I didn’t know if I was giving the right answers. I needed to be able to call someone to help. They found my book bag in the car that thankfully had the iPad we NEVER use in it and I was able to log onto my email and social media to contact who I needed to when I woke up again, but I had no way to call anyone close to me I wanted to talk to.
3. As painful as it is, immediately after the accident write down/dictate every single thing you remember from before the accident to the hospital stay and arriving home.
This is crucial. I remembered every single moment so clearly it seemed surreal because it was TOO clear in my mind. I remembered how their cars hit before hitting ours, every shade of gray in the dark car from the airbags and how my face felt while I wondered if I even had a face anymore. (SIDE NOTE — if you can wear contacts instead of glasses when driving, I recommend that! My glasses CRUSHED my face!) Every sound and smell, I documented. When we got home two days later, I sloppily with my messed up hand wrote down everything. I made sure because it’s necessary for lawyer references, insurance purposes and for your own resource later.
4. Seek out immediate trauma therapy afterward, PLEASE.
We were so fortunate to have someone incredible refer us to their sister who specializes in this. She was able to take extremely sensitive fears (that a lot of people don’t understand and downplay, which made it even harder for me) like me thinking I was going to die on the one week anniversary at the same time of night, and put some calmness to my fears and rationalize things better for me. It’s not just a car accident. It’s trauma. It’s like living an actual nightmare and it doesn’t go away just because it’s done happening. Every day I drive, I cry at some point. I can handle it well for a few minutes and then the first person who speeds or stops too late or freaks me out, I lose it. The first week afterward, on the way TO the therapist, we kept seeing red cars come from the left and I was having full blown screaming panic attacks in the car. I hated that Mike had to see that, I was breathing heavy and trying to slow down but I was absolutely sure anything from the left was going to kill us. Even crazier is if a bird flew from the left or a person walked from the left, it scared me. Going to that therapy session, she actually used a technique that helped drastically diminish that fear. It’s still there, and I still have to live with it — but nothing compared to what it was! That right-after trauma needs to be treated or addressed by someone who specializes in it, you deserve that!
Not all accidents have the same outcome. Not everything is preventable, but I pray you would be wrapped in God’s arms and feel a moment of peace if you get in such a situation. I hardly was able to walk away, but I did. WE did. We are so thankful for life more than every now, and so thankful for all of the support!