baby’s first broken bone.

Last Thursday morning began like any other. We got up, let the dogs out, had breakfast, let the dogs back in, Daddy left for work and Madeline and I got down to business. She was playing, sitting on the dogs and calling to me to look at her. I was staring at an empty blog post wondering what the heck I was going to write about and looking up at Maddie every other second and smiling.

I remember looking up and seeing Maddie and Hudson in the dining room. Lily lay at my feet. I looked back down for one second, and then I heard her cry. I jumped over Lily and pushed Hudson out of the way to get to her. She was on her belly on the carpet, her hands outstretched, her knees tucked under her and she wasn’t getting up. I pulled her into my lap on the floor, asking her what happened. She just looked at me right in the eyes, willing me to understand her hurt, as the tears kept coming.

Two minutes, she cried. Three minutes. Four. This from the girl who can be distracted by a ceiling fan. I knew in my gut something was wrong. I examined her, asked her what hurt. I noticed she was favoring her left arm. I brought her to the couch and called Andrew.

“Can you come home? Madeline fell and got hurt, and I know something’s wrong. I just don’t know what. I want you to look at her or I think I want to take her to the emergency room.”

He walked me through a mini-examination over the phone. She had stopped crying, but her face was twisted in pain as I gingerly took her shirt off. I looked for swelling, redness, heat, a bone popping out. Nothing. Then I touched her left arm and she burst into the saddest cry I’d ever heard. Agony. “I’ll meet you at the ER,” he said and hung up.

I know that a broken bone is nothing like a heart attack or even an asthma attack, but knowing my daughter was in pain had me moving mountains. I sprinted up the stairs with her in my arms, threw on some clothes and tied my hair back. Then I ran to her room and grabbed her a zip up. I wasn’t going to risk putting a shirt back on her, and I had a feeling she wouldn’t be able to put a shirt on after this hospital visit. Call it a mother’s intuition. We were back downstairs in a flash, ushering the very confused dogs into their crates, throwing treats at them through the door. I grabbed a sippy cup, some snacks and the diaper bag and we were out the door. I had just set her in the carseat when I realized what we were missing- BPL (Bunny/Puppy/Lamby). I was back up and down with her guys in less than 30 seconds.

We made it to the ER less than 10 minutes after hanging up with Andy, and he had already parked when we pulled up. I pulled her out of her seat and ran her inside, leaving Andrew to park the car in a completely full lot. The waiting room was packed. 11AM on a Thursday- hopping time in the Womack Emergency Room. We stood close to the triage desks, hoping to be called quickly. Madeline stayed quietly in my arms, in nothing but her pajama pants and socks, holding her bunny in her good arm and sucking on her paci, her brow furrowed in obvious pain.

Madeline's arm- broken ulna
Madeline’s little arm starting to swell in the waiting room.

After 20 minutes without being called, Andy went into Papa Bear mode- quiet, but not to be messed with. We were the next ones seen. A doctor who was called in thought she might have a dislocated elbow, but didn’t want to pop it back without checking for a fracture first (thank goodness). So we were taken over to x-ray.

Madeline sleeping waiting for x-rays of broken ulna
Sleeping in Daddy’s arms, waiting for x-rays.

I held our crying child still, as Andrew covered her uterus and ovaries with a lead glove for four films. Not a moment I’d like to relive. Ever.

Then, we waited. The chaplain from the main post chapel came by our room and prayed over our family for peace and rapid healing and no further complications. And as soon as he left the room, a nurse brought Madeline some (awful tasting) T3- Tylenol with Codeine- for her pain. She got about a third of it down, before coughing and gagging. But within about five minutes her mood had dramatically changed. Her grimace  had melted away, and she was soon smiling, asking to sit up and read her book, even moving her arm a bit (which was terrifying). God bless medicine and it’s power to take away pain. Andrew and I were so relieved. And then the doctor came in and told us her arm was broken- her ulna bone just below the elbow.

Our sweet nurse wheeled us down to the orthopedist in a wheel chair, which our woozy baby thought was pretty fun. The orthopedist ordered her into a hand-to-shoulder cast for 4-6 weeks. He said her bone would likely be healed in about two weeks, when they would remove the cast, re-x-ray, and then re-cast to protect the newly healed bone for a while. She won’t need any sort of physical therapy, since apparently children are very willing to test out and use their healed limb, even through little bits of pain, virtually rehabilitating themselves.

Madeline waiting for cast on broken arm
A goofy, hopped-up smile, while waiting for her cast.

Madeline squinted and pressed her lips together as the technicians held up her arm and cast it, but she never let out a single tear. They were so impressed. They told her she took it better than even some five year olds do. I felt so proud of my baby. I felt like we had been treated to a glimpse into the future of  the tough little girl we have- a girl who doesn’t let discomfort get in her way, who rises to a challenge, who adapts easily and who relies on the comfort of and trust in her parents. Sounds pretty perfect to me.

We left the hospital, 4 hours after we’d arrived, with a much more peaceful baby in a hot pink cast.

Maddie and Daddy- outside the Womack ER
Maddie’s first visit to the ER- a total success!
It hasn’t slowed her down one bit!
Baby's first broken arm
Back home, chowing down on cheddar bunnies. There’s our little girl.


  1. Don’t mind me, sobbing through your post. I love this girl so much, and I’m so impressed with her. I think you’re totally right that this was a glimpse into her constitution. She’s a fun-loving gal, but she’s tough to the core.

  2. Oh my goodness – how scary. When my son was almost 3, we had our first ambulance right and trip to the ER…thankfully everything ended up being okay but those moments are ones I hope to never experience again. The cast is adorable, though. 🙂

  3. Poor baby! I volunteered at the childrens hospital for 4 years and there was a lot of screaming going on (and I was on a floor, not even the er), so go Maddie! I’d probably be screaming for some chocolate or martinis.

  4. Poor sweet girl! I hate that she was in pain. So glad they gave her some of the good stuff, and am SO IMPRESSED with how well she did with xrays and casting. I have a feeling I would be quite dramatic and I am somewhere in the back 40 of my 20’s. Ahem. Anyways, go Maddie!

  5. Poor baby! 🙁 Seeing your kids like that is heartbreaking, isn’t it?

  6. Poor baby, almost had me crying thinking about my sweetie who is in a full cast at the moment. Hopefully she’ll get it off in 3 weeks with no need for another. They say she only probably needed the short one to begin with, but babies hit the cast a lot and they end up falling off… Anyway, she’s 13 months old and loves climbing in and out of a little chair and is constantly tripping and falling on things. This was day 2 with the cast and she has scraped up her head and eyebrow pretty bad already by falling on the cast. She tries to rub her eyes and forgets I guess, and ends up scraping her face. Any advice on what I could maybe cover it with? Did your baby ever have those problems?

    • The only problem we had with the cast was that it hurt her hand a little bit. But once we had the second cast put on, they put sticky felt onto the part between her thumb and fingers and that stopped all the chaffing she was experiencing. So maybe wrap the cast up in felt and tape? Or put a glove on her hand? Hope she gets well soon!!


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