Sunday. It’s a day we all love. Nicole Kidman famously named her daughter after the 7th day of the week, and this one was as relaxing (albeit kids running around like crazy) as any normal one.
I was almost 8 months pregnant with my second son, and up in Gayndah, a cute, small rural town in QLD. I was visiting my older sister, Sarah, her family and my mum and step-dad.
My son Hendrix accompanied me on this trip. I’m sure any parent can appreciate what a nightmare flying was. Sitting on a plane while heavily pregnant and irritable as hell is only made worse when you’re taking care of a teething 8 month old on your own. He has travelled a lot with me and been on quite a few plane trips for his age, but this just wasn’t my lucky flight. I was seriously dreading the return leg.
However, my beautiful nephews Tristen, 8, and Tyler, 3, were having a great time hanging out with their baby cousin “Hendy” and any time for me spent with my family is time I truly appreciate. So it was definitely worth it.
Rewind to our “big” Saturday night. My darling sister cooked me dinner (always the care-taker, making sure my unborn baby and I were well fed and looking after my son for me so I could relax) and as she lives on a big property, we all decided we’d stay up past the usual 8pm bedtime and go enjoy the stars.
We had a bonfire in the backyard, which was safely blocked by a barrier and the kids could roast marshmallows. We set up camp, sang a little Kumbaya, (by Kumbaya I mean we played Fleetwood Mac) and hit the hay.
My brother in law Matt decided to do the Daddy/Son camp thing so he set up a tent with Tristen and they slept outside overnight, and I went and fell into a deep sleep inside (before the usual pregnancy insomnia kicked in about 2am like it always did) waking up on Sunday, feeling as easy as Lionel.
At first I thought I was hearing Tyler laughing hysterically. He’s a very funny toddler. He’s fast, he’s cheeky, he’s naughty, and very loud. And that’s what this was. It was LOUD.
I heard the noise coming up through the backyard and toward the house. The hysterical noise which I stupidly mistook for Tyler’s laughing, only to hear Sarah panicked and screaming “CALL AN AMBULANCE!”
I jumped up. My heart started racing. I ran (waddled) as fast as I could to the scene of the commotion, which was the bathroom. The sound of the shower running was faint, drowned out by Tyler’s screams.
“TYLER’S BURNT HIMSELF BADLY!”
Time stopped. All I could see was my sister, her face ashen and barely breathing. She was hysterical. I looked at what was happening in the shower, and saw my little 3 year old nephew with his father, Matt, desperately trying to calm him down. He was putting cold water on his scalded little hands.
It couldn’t have been for more than 5 seconds that Matt and Sarah had turned their heads away. They were all down at the campsite from the previous night, hosing down the fire coals after cooking up breakfast, supervising the boys, and Tyler had fallen on his hands on the hot coals.
My instinct kicked in. Staring at my heartbroken sister crying, (and repeating “my poor little baby, my poor little baby”) I hugged her, I told her it was all going to be okay. I ran (again, waddled) downstairs to call an ambulance, but my mum had naturally gone into mother mode and was already perfectly explaining to the operator what had happened, where they lived and repeating to me what we needed to do on our end.
The one on the left (my right) is to the man on the street that was super eye rolley when my little boy had a tantrum today. ALL babies and toddlers lose it, but not all kids grow up to be ignorant dickheads as adults, why don’t you think about THAT.???? I will raise my boys to be men of kindness, tolerance, strength and compassion. The other hand is for you, all my friends, the parents out there doing their best, and the people of today who fight for peace and make the world a better place. Not to sound too Golden Girls theme song’y.. but thank you for being a friend.????✌️#motherhood A photo posted by C H R I S T I E H A Y E S (@christiehayes_) on
My sister doesn’t cry. Sarah just isn’t like that. She’s happy. She is the warmest, sweetest person on the planet, but she shows zero physical affection (only to her children) and has rarely cried in front of me.
It’s also important to note that my sister is an earth mother. She has always wanted kids. She was a nurse before she was a mother. She also holds a diploma in child care. She is brilliant with children.
She lives for children, especially her own.
I have heard nightmare stories with rural situations regarding ambulances, like people dying due to not being attended to in time. We’ve all heard of things going wrong. I know what you’re thinking, “yes, it happens in the city too”, but I think you get my point. It’s terrifying realising how deserted you are in a time of crisis and knowing you are dependant solely on one person.
I’d like to stress that I have nothing but respect and admiration for the paramedics who save lives everyday, and when the paramedic arrived within 2 minutes of the call to triple-zero I could have jumped in his arms and kissed him (which thankfully I didn’t as I would’ve broken his back).
He calmed Tyler down, applied a burn gel to his little hands, then rushed him to the local hospital. I will be forever grateful for how tender and kind he was to my nephew.
The hospital took great care of Tyler, but it was quickly concluded he would need to be rushed by aeroplane to Lady Cilento Childrens Hospital in Brisbane, to be treated for his burns. Thank God a plane was available to do it, and he was transferred within four hours.
I have always been so damn lucky in my life. I’m not saying that smugly, I promise. I worry that my constant luck and things falling into my lap will stop one day, and my luck will pass to someone else. Which, I agree, it should be.
In fact, when one of my beautiful best friends passed away last year from cancer, age 33, I cursed the universe and asked why she was so unlucky. It wasn’t fair, it’s still not, and I cried and cried and told the universe she should’ve been lucky, like I always am.
However, on this day, I appreciated that luck. Although it was one of the worst days of my life, we were still lucky. It could have been much worse. He could have burnt himself all over his body, and a plane may not have been available. I made a mental note that day to do what I could to raise funds for any rural charity that specialises in plane or helicopter flights for children to hospital in emergency situations. Upon research, I learnt more about Careflight, a charity that does just that, and I am sincere that I would like to do something. Something big. And I am going to.
My nephew was airlifted alongside his father (only one parent could fly with him) to Lady Cilento Childrens Hospital in Brisbane. We stayed behind and packed up in a flurry, and Sarah, myself and my baby boy Hendrix had a four hour drive to Brisbane. Here, I cut my trip short and jumped on a plane home to Sydney. I wanted to stay and help, but we all know how much help I would’ve been – about to pop, and having my little one around.
You may have seen in the media recently, that Lady Cilento Hospital would not release a 1 year old baby girl badly burnt on Nauru because she would be sent back to detention. It was a stance that I applauded. Perhaps you have had a different family experience, but by all accounts, my nephew was cared for with love and care, by some of the best paediatricians in the country.
Tyler was diagnosed with 2nd & 3rd degree burns. He went under general anaesthetic three times within two weeks. He had to have both his hands bandaged, and have skin graft surgery.
At first, as you can imagine, he was heartbroken. He didn’t want to wear them, they were uncomfortable, he couldn’t play. He had to use a straw to drink – especially frustrating for a three year old.
After two weeks in hospital, and after four months of wearing his gloves, he fully recovered. He had counselling, faced his fears, now likes to roast marshmallows (with mum right behind him!) and builds campfires out of blocks.
What have I learnt? As parents, mistakes happen. And they happen to everyone, no matter how damn lucky we might all generally be. My sister, as I mentioned, is the earth mother, and it still happened to her son.
We parents, we mothers, do our best to protect our children (and nieces/nephews) in every minute of our life, but ultimately I have learnt that it won’t always be possible. We will always intend to, but life will intervene, and it’s important to know we are not alone.
Everybody goes through tragedy, accidents, troublesome times, mistakes everyday, and we can’t protect our children from everything, as much as we want to.
If my acting career doesn’t work out I could always consider entertaining at kids parties???????? #morning A photo posted by C H R I S T I E H A Y E S (@christiehayes_) on
Tyler has taught me that the human spirit is resilient, and no matter how young, our children DO forgive their parents, even if we don’t forgive ourselves. So you know what, let’s do that. Let’s be sistas that are doin’ it for themselves.
I told myself I was not the world’s worst mother because a few weeks ago I caught Hendrix’s leg in his carseat and pinched his skin and watched his little face crumble (I cried more than he did). And I told Sarah she is not the worst mother in the world because she turned her back for a second and her son burnt himself.
We have forgiven ourselves. Now it’s your turn. ‘Cause like Ben Lee said: we’re all in this together.
As if we all needed a reason to love him even more, my brave, strong, kind-hearted nephew Tyler hugged his mother, after her 27th thousandth apology and said, “it’s ok Mummy. It was an accident.”
And as if we needed a reason to love THIS man even more, picture the gorgeous face of Johnny Depp for a second (it’s not hard is it?). Next to being one of the worlds finest actors, he is most importantly (in my opinion) a proud father. He says of his daughter, Lily Rose Depp;
“Anything I’ve done up ’til May 27th 1999 was kind of an illusion, existing without living. My daughter, the birth of my daughter, gave me life.”
He loves his children, and he seems to love all children. This is him (well, the legend bad-ass captain, Jack Sparrow) visiting the sick kids of Lady Cilento Childrens Hospital.
Here is a photo of my beautiful little nephew… With his hero.