Trauma after near-drowning? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 07-14-2011, 07:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Last week, my daughter nearly drowned.  And my baby son too.  We were up in the Rocky Mountains hiking.  The rivers were at flood stage because of the enormous amount of snowmelt.  Think huge, gushing, whitewater flowing very fast.  We crossed a bridge over one of these rivers, one she had crossed many times before.  The dog pushed by her before I could stop him and pushed her off the side of the bridge into the current.  I was holding the baby (9 months old) and without thinking for even an instant, I jumped in behind my daughter and managed to catch the edge of her skirt before she was washed away.  We went down the river together.  I have this picture in my mind of my daughter's face underwater with her eyes wide open screaming, and my son's little head underwater with the water rushing over his hair.  Somehow, I don't remember how, I made it to a willow sticking out into the river and managed to hold on with my teeth and braced the three of us with my feet.  My partner had jumped in by this time, underestimating the strength of the river, and was a little downstream.  Somehow he made it to the willow and we got the kids out of the water. 

 

I think it was one of the worst experiences in my life.  I was so scared that I couldn't stop shaking and crying for an hour afterward.  My kids, on the other hand didn't seem immediately fazed.  My daughter keeps talking about it, but with a smile on her face, and with jokes about going swimming by accident.  But her behavior since then has been atrocious.  She's yelling at us all (particularly her older brother) - really angry sounding yells with tiny incidents to trigger them.  She doesn't want to talk to me about acting nicer.  She fights to get away from me when I carry her over to the couch to talk about the yelling and meanness. 

 

I'm wondering if she could have been traumatized by this incident, and that's why she's acting like this.  I don't really know how to help her work through it.  I know I have had to work through it in my own mind during the last week - feelings of guilt for not thinking of the baby, feelings of guilt for feeling guilty about the baby, a million hideous what-ifs.  My mom says I need to feel grateful that everything is okay, but somehow this doesn't come easily.  I just feel scared and guilty.  I can't imagine how my daughter feels.  Any suggestions about how to help her? 

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#2 of 15 Old 07-14-2011, 08:10 PM
 
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My goodness! Hugs to you and your family. I'm so glad it turned out the way it did, but it's going to take time to process all that. The way you are feeling is perfectly normal, and the feelings will go away after a while and sneak back up on you. You're a hero and your partner is too. If you had thought about the baby, then your daughter may have actually drowned. That would have more lasting effects on your son. Your mom probably doesn't like to hear you're upset. She probably wishes she could protect you from the feelings of guilt, which you know isn't possible.

As far as your daughter... there are probably multiple things going on. She must have some mixed feelings, and then she must also know that things have not been normal. Momma is upset. My best suggestion is to just be there to listen. To stick with your normal boundaries. She can't be mean to her brother, etc. How old is she? That might influence the responses. I think I'd contact a counselor or some type of professional to get some ideas. Maybe there is a book that would help.

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#3 of 15 Old 07-14-2011, 08:13 PM
 
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nak I have no idea if the behavior is related (in your shoes I would suspect it is) but I would definitely consider therapy for your daughter and possibly for you. What a scary experience for you all. But, kudos to you, Mama Bear, for saving your family.clap.gif


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#4 of 15 Old 07-14-2011, 09:45 PM
 
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woah mama how scary. 

 

i would really worry about yourself. take care of your own insecurity now. i wonder if your dd is picking it up.

 

when dd was 4 we had a near drowning experience too. the current got my dd and i got to her in time but it got me too. with her on my shoulder and encouraging me mama u can do it, mama its going to be ok (i was in total panic inside) but still swimming till i managed to get to a clump on a rock and yell out to my friends son swimming in the shallow part to get his mom who came and rescued us. did not stop dd from going into the water. she noted that it happened but it didnt seem to phase her.

 

i had a similar experience at 5 myself and have never been afraid of the water. 

 

it could be. it might not be. i dont have an idea of how old ur dd is, but i noticed around 4 that dd had her major growth spurt during summer. that means right around august she would shoot up. but around now she would eat a tonne and her behaviour would be awful. suddenly she'd grown and settle down. i know before growth spurts their behaviour could get worse. 

 

did she recently have her bday and turn 3? could it be that?


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#5 of 15 Old 07-15-2011, 01:27 AM
 
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Oh wow, this story had me in tears. Just the descriptions of your dd's face underwater...mecry.gif. Terrifying. I'm thinking (too often?) these days about how difficult it could be to keep my own 3 year old as safe when my 2nd arrives in November. Will I be torn, will I have to make choices between them? How would I be able to run after/help my dd in a possible crisis with a tiny baby strapped to me or needing me?

 

This said, am so amazed (encouraged even) by how truly heroic you were. You saved your baby with your other baby in tow. clap.gifbow2.gif

 

As for you dd, I agree that her age alone could be a part of the behavior. I imagine too that she senses your feelings (which are natural feelings indeed). It seems like something such as this would have to have some traumatic effect on a child, but I'd tend to think that the outcome was so wonderful that ultimately it will work itself out. Counseling might be a good idea if things do not improve or if you yourself feel it might be beneficial. 

 


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#6 of 15 Old 07-15-2011, 07:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for all the words of support.  They really do help.

 

My daughter is 5.  Maybe the behavior is age related.  She has always had trouble with her temper. 

 

ghannit - I think it is a strange thing to have more than one child.  All of a sudden this infinite love that you have for your first becomes multiplied, and for me anyway, with 3, this feeling kind of divides me as a mother since each child has different needs.  The possibility of having to make life and death choices between them becomes very real with safety issues.  Who gets the safest spot in the car?  Who has to risk his life when saving his sister? etc. 

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#7 of 15 Old 07-15-2011, 09:58 PM
 
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I think short term counseling may be a good idea.  After a traumatic event it can really help to talk about it repeatedly for a while to work through it.  Just talking to another adult about it or to you about it may really help a lot but if she won't then I definitely think she should go to a counselor for just a little while to talk about it.  It may also help you to do so, though talking to your friends about it and just working through it may also help.  A lot of it could be age related, but I often find that when I have a feeling that something isn't right with my dd I am correct so I would suggest trusting your instincts. 

 

Coming close to drowning in the river is a very scary thing, I almost drowned in our mild river 12 years ago and I still don't like to be near it.  I don't let my dd walk near it unless I am there and it doesn't have any currents that could rush by and get her on the path.  It was just to scary to let her relive and I think that no matter how much your dd's behavior seems like it could come with age there is a lot of fear under the surface that she is having a very hard time dealing with on her own.  You were so brave to jump in after your child and you should feel a lot of pride for your selfless decision!  I am glad you are all alive to talk about what happened!

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#8 of 15 Old 07-16-2011, 05:22 AM
 
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You saved your baby with your other baby in tow. 

yeahthat.gif clap.gif

 

 

This is truly heroic. But I know you must feel like less of a hero and more like a pile of nerves. That seems totally normal to have post traumatic stress and I agree that counseling may help you. If your daughter already has some trouble with her temper then (to me) it stands to reason that she's showing it now of all times. 

 



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#9 of 15 Old 07-16-2011, 10:58 PM
 
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Honestly you sound like a superhero to me.  I think I would go to counseling for myself, just to deal with the feelings from such a traumatic experience.  Kids are so resilient, I bet you are more affected by it that she is.  

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#10 of 15 Old 07-18-2011, 05:56 PM
 
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Kids work through things through play. If you have the strength, then act out the situation in your living room, again and again. Switch roles, have the dog do something different, have you do something different, have dad jump in, whatever. And, play it just like it happened. By reenacting with play, she feels in control of the situation. Do this until she can do it with a smile on her face. She may need multiple sessions of this.

 

If you do not have the strength to work through this in play with her, have someone else do it. If you can find a professional child therapist experienced in trauma, all the better.

 

I would be horrified if that happened to me. Truly. I feel for you!!


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#11 of 15 Old 03-12-2012, 07:30 PM
 
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I applaude you for saving your daughter life this prove how important a mother role is. I too was in a similar situation on February 22, 2011 my daughter almost drown. I finish college and wanted to celebrate with my family. Took my family to myrtle beach little did we know what was in-store for my family. I took my kids to a kiddy pool at the hotel one aftertoon. I told my husband to watch the kids while I went upstair to us the bathroom. I was upstair when the telephone start ringing and I heard fire truck and ambulance. I took the phone call only to hear my 7 year old daughter almost drown. My husband state my daughter and my eight year old disable son was swimming together and he notice he didn't see my daughter. My husband said to my son where is your sister my son state ''she is under the bottom of the water she is faking I tried to pull her hair and she is not moving''. My husband start to panic and when he look over to the end of the pool he saw a parent with my daughter in her hand. My daughter was fowming at the mouth and her lips was blue. Three individuals did CPR on her and she came back to us. I rush down stairs in a rage because I believe my husband job is to watch them and not take his eyes off the kids for a single second. The rest of my trip was spend in the hospital,but I wouldn't want it any other way. I am grateful to God that he saved my only daughter and he gave her a second chance. The doctors state it is a miracle because if she was under the water for another second she would have died. I am still in shocked and I will never get over this. I am still in school finishing up my degree in psychology and want to assist individuals, who have experience truamatic events.

 

 

My daughter behavior is out of control she has terrible tantrum and just throw a water bottle and broke a window in her room. She had her moments before the incident now she is worse at time I feel to put her in the Psychiatric ward. I can truly say she have a good side where she is helpful and respectful another time she is a different person. In school she is an angel and is student of the month at home a different persom I asked her about the incidence and she doesn't want to talk about it. I have made an appointment to see a clinical psychologist, who will assist her and my family in dealing with my daughter.  I want what best for my daughter and want her to get the help she needs and deserve. It's a miracle I am still holding on I lost my sister and brother the year 2010 and almost lost my daughter 2011. I know God will never give me more than I can bare. I want to use my experience to assist individuals, who are dealing with the same issues. I have dedicate my life to persuse my career in clinical psychology. Nice being apart of this group.

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#12 of 15 Old 03-12-2012, 08:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That's very scary.  I'm so glad that your daughter was okay, and that she was rescued in time.  It's a terrifying feeling to know that you have very nearly lost a child.

 

My daughter is doing better now.  She doesn't seem to be having the same kind of tantrums she was this summer.  We talk about the incident sometimes, and we occasionally share some rose tea together - dried roses that we gathered last summer when we were on our vacation by the river.  I feel like this lets us celebrate that she is still here with us after the river incident without being too sad or heavy.  But honestly, I hate even thinking about it.  Months later my gut still clenches up in fear when I remember those moments.  Everybody else in the family wants to go back to the same place this summer for our vacation.  But I hope we don't have to.

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#13 of 15 Old 03-13-2012, 08:41 AM
 
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Originally Posted by dovey View Post  But honestly, I hate even thinking about it.  Months later my gut still clenches up in fear when I remember those moments.  Everybody else in the family wants to go back to the same place this summer for our vacation.  But I hope we don't have to.


You don't have to; a vacation is supposed to be enjoyable. If you don't want to go back I'd say that you're up for doing something new this year, and use a clue-by-four with any adults if necessary.

 

I'd reconsider the short term counseling; I think you could use some feedback other than the "you should be grateful" type messages.

 

 


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#14 of 15 Old 03-13-2012, 09:15 AM
 
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There is something very primal about the fear of almost drowning, and of almost losing a child - neither of these really compares with fear of other types of situations IME.  It is much harder to rationalize and distance ourselves from these experiences than say, a near miss in a car.  There is a million other fun places to take a vacation, if you don't want to go back I hope your family will respect that and find a different choice. 

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#15 of 15 Old 03-17-2012, 07:20 AM
 
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Originally Posted by dovey View Post

That's very scary.  I'm so glad that your daughter was okay, and that she was rescued in time.  It's a terrifying feeling to know that you have very nearly lost a child.

My daughter is doing better now.  She doesn't seem to be having the same kind of tantrums she was this summer.  We talk about the incident sometimes, and we occasionally share some rose tea together - dried roses that we gathered last summer when we were on our vacation by the river.  I feel like this lets us celebrate that she is still here with us after the river incident without being too sad or heavy.  But honestly, I hate even thinking about it.  Months later my gut still clenches up in fear when I remember those moments.  Everybody else in the family wants to go back to the same place this summer for our vacation.  But I hope we don't have to.

I never saw this post until today and I'm stunned by how brave you are and so thankful to hear that you were all safe. I'm glad your daughter is doing better but honestly, I don't think I would be able to think about it without feeling that terror all over again. Maybe years from now but it's not really been that long. I would not go back this year for vacation, it would not be a relaxing vacation, I think it would make me relive it over and over.
Not much makes me speechless but this does.


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