Motherhood is full of miracles, blessed milestones, joyous occasions, hugs, and kisses. But it’s sometimes riddled with the unthinkable.
Sadly, accidents happen, whether it’s a child choking on too big of a bite of food or things much worse to think about. Parents know they must remain vigilant, watchful and protective all while enjoying their wee ones.
For one Michigan mom, her recent brush with the unthinkable prompted her to share her story with others to help them be better aware of such a situation and hopefully avoid it themselves. While her four-month-old son Jack is alive and healthy now with 10 fingers and 10 toes, they did have a close call.
Stacey Maaser, a former teacher, was sitting around the campfire with friends. This mom of five was checking out her littlest guy’s toes. After all, baby toes are so stinkin’ adorable.
She was stunned by what she saw on baby Jack’s foot. Wrapped tightly around his middle toe was a hair tourniquet. Luckily, sitting next to her was a friend whose son had endured this same thing. She jumped up to grab tools and help, while warning Stacey that it was likely a doctor would have to intervene soon.
The moms spoke soothingly to Jack while Stacey attempted to cut her baby’s toe free from the incredibly tight hair tourniquet. Using a needle, tweezers, and scissors, she just couldn’t get it to break free.
In fact, it was wound so tightly around his toe that he began to bleed around the hair. Stacey knew what had to be done.
“We need to take him to the ER.”
Stacey’s husband Scott gathered up their four older kids and headed home with them while Stacey and Jack rushed to the emergency room. Stacey tried to quell her nerves, but the attending nurses and physician knew she was upset.
They reassured Stacey that they knew of others with hair tourniquets. Stacey nursed Jack to sleep while the toe numbed, then the doctor got to work.
The doctor applied a topical numbing agent and tried first to grasp a hold of the hair with tweezers and small pliers. But Jack kept waking up and crying when the pliers were used, so Stacey asked what else they could do for him.
“The doctor sat back, and I could tell this was traumatic for him, too, but his mind was buzzing with protocol and logic knowing that now it was time to move on to phase two. He calmly explained what was going to happen next, and we prepared for the next phase.”
Stacey admitted that she began to cry, trembling with fear. She had researched their options on the drive in and had hoped to avoid the next procedure.
Jack screamed every time the local anesthetic was injected into his toe. Stacey situated him on her lap and braced herself for what was next. She held onto his torso and asked if the nurse could hold his leg instead of her, as she didn’t want Jack to become more upset than he already was.
The doctor then cut into baby Jack’s toe, making several incisions with a scalpel, digging at the site with a needle. They kept administering numbing agents to the toe as they cut deep. However, the doctor said what with all the cutting, digging and blood, he just couldn’t confirm that he had set the toe free from the hair tourniquet.
So as Stacey made plans to head to a children’s hospital one hour away, letting her husband know the turn of events and asking her mother to meet her there. She posted to Facebook and pleaded for help and support.
“My heart raced, my limbs felt numb, I felt like I couldn’t breathe and I could feel myself slipping into darkness like I might pass out or go absolutely crazy.”
Once Scott showed up, they headed to the children’s hospital. Stacey was fearful of what they’d have to do to her son’s toe, but the doctor said four words that brought joy soaring into her heart.
“The hair is gone.”
Experts advise parents to keep the following items on hand in case they suspect their infant or child has a hair tourniquet: tweezers, tiny scissors, magnifying glass and Nair, a hair remover. However, if a hair tourniquet is cutting off circulation, it’s important to seek medical help immediately to avoid permanent damage.
Parents should do the following to help keep their infant free from a hair tourniquet:
–Frequently check the most common areas on the body for hair tourniquets.
–Keep baby’s common areas like the crib, playpen and floor mat free from loose hair, strings or anything else that poses a risk.
–Look for loose hair strands after baby has worn mittens or footed pajamas.
Learn more about Stacey’s terrifying ordeal on her blog Embracing Motherhood.