The day was February 15, 2008 and it started out like any other day, never in my wildest dreams would I think this day would change my life and own me until the day I die. Weslea was a fun, happy, quirky, four year old princess, dancing her school hallways in her pink cowgirl boots. Loving the challenge of putting puzzles together “cardboard side up” and finding the beauty in even the most unappealing things. Always Mommy’s little sidekick.
The day was coming to an end, and I was getting dinner started and sat down to send a quick email when my six year old daughter Maggie came into the office and told me that “Weslea was sleeping funny”. My immediate reaction was…this is going be good.
She was they type of kid who fell asleep underneath the coffee table, mid crawl on the floor, playing with toys or reading a book sitting up. Where would she be found sleeping next? As I walked into the master bedroom, I noticed she was sleeping…standing up! I told Maggie to get her Dad he’ll never believe this.
The thing is, my mind, didn’t go there…any mother’s mind WILL NOT go there…to the place I am about to take you….
Something told me to get on the bed behind her and when I climbed up on the bed, my Weslea didn’t fall back. It was only then that I saw she was attached to the window blind cord and I started to scream the worse scream I have ever screamed in my life and I believe to this day it was a part of my soul I will never get back. It went with her.
I grabbed my lifeless baby and ran down the hall screaming my husbands name, I handed her to him like I wanted him to fix her, I was panicked and screamed at him “She’s dead, she’s dead” and really I was screaming “Fix her, fix her”. I would do anything. Is this where I give my life for hers? Is this where I can sell my soul? When does all this happen? Does it happen? Do I get her back? I can’t think these thoughts now. There is an ambulance on the way. The Marine next door and her daddy are helping her. She is on the floor in my kitchen. Lifeless.
I end up at the ER, I was sitting on the edge of a chair. Tunnel vision. My baby, surrounded by strangers who are trying to save her life. They are afraid, I can feel it. I am afraid. They cheered. She starts taking baby breaths, I had so many questions. Baby breaths like after she was born and laying in my arms? The baby breaths of when she sleeps? Baby breaths but not out of the woods yet. The helicopter arrives, she needs to be life flighted to another hospital. We can’t go. We had a friend drive us.
She’s ok, she was breathing, she will be ok. I know it.
My thoughts change to “what if?”. What if she doesn’t dance the halls of her school, or do puzzles upside down, or sing her heart out to High School Musical any more? Then I can’t do it. I can’t see her like that. Then you take her, whoever you are. I still wasn’t ready though. I am not ready for this.
We ran into the hospital, I had her pillow, her pink poodle, her stingray. We were told to bring her favorite things. They put us in a room. Some doctors walked in. They started telling us how they worked on her for 45 minutes, they did everything they could, and….she had died again 5 minutes out from the hospital on the helicopter.
I remember shaking, I couldn’t stop. My body had taken over. You can have a half an hour to say good -bye. Say good -bye? You can hold her, pick her up, be with her. We walked into the room. She was laying on a table. My first reaction was “she doesn’t have a blanket on”. Just a gown. My husband picked her up, he held her. I couldn’t. I had held that child in my womb, a sling as a baby, then in a piggy back, in a firefighter hold…you name it…she was carried in any which way possible. And now as she lay lifeless in front of me I was afraid to drop her.
I looked at her face, she really looked like she was sleeping but she wasn’t sleeping this time. Please wake up. I smelled her skin, I never wanted to forget her smell…”kid smell”. Her hair, I’d never braid her hair or put piggies in it again. Her hands. Her baby hands I’d never hold again while we crossed the street. Her little feet. The feet that will never leave flip flops on the wrong side of the gate to get chewed by the dog again. A lady comes in, its time to go. Ok Wes, one last chance baby…please wake up.
We left the hospital with a box. It had hand prints and footprints, a lock of her hair. They called us at 4 am. to see if we would donate her organs. Yes.
In the following days, the out pouring of love from our friends, family and even strangers moved me however, I felt like I carried a huge weight of guilt, sadness and devastation. I had failed.
Almost 5 years later, I can tell you that my guilt, sadness and devastation have lifted. I did not fail. I am in a really good place. Weslea, in her death, has taught me some huge lessons about me and who I strive to be. I had always feared that the world will never know what a neat little kid she was…but today, I know they will. In the founding days of this awareness campaign I am confident that as pioneers we are paving the way to provide education to the masses and that someday the danger of window blinds cords will be as well known as swimming pool and bathtub dangers.
I don’t ever want anyone to feel the things I have felt. No parent should have to pick out an urn or casket for their child, especially for something like this. Knowing that cordless is best, and if cordless isn’t an option right now, how to make your blinds safer for your children, is my ultimate wish. No one would leave a child unattended in water, so let’s make it so that no one would leave a corded window blind accessible to a child as well. If the world knows that blind cords are dangerous then they won’t be as dangerous anymore.
Chantal Teraberry (forever Weslea’s Mom)
Please support the ABC’s by “Liking” this FB page