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So here's my story - read it and weep (you have been warned)

(204 Posts)
BulletProofMum Thu 10-Nov-11 11:15:51

I am married with three lovely children (6, 4, 20m). On the first day of the summer holidays I was preparing a barbecue on one side of the house whilst my husband was trying to light a bonfire on the other. He was looking after the baby or was toddling around the courtyard with her dolls pushchair. The older children wer inside watching t.v.

I heard shouting and then my eldest calling on me. I went round to find the bonfire out of control and my daughter's pushchair at the base of it. I went inside to find my husband sobbing and the skin hanging off his hands and arms. My daughter was in the bath screaming. What I thought were her clothes hanging off her was her skin. The ambulance took forever. My daughter was taken first to a hospital 25 min away and my husband to another. She was intially asessed as having 70 % burns. They battled to stabilise her, no one would answer my question ' will she be alright'? She was stablised, ventilated and transferred to a specialist burnes unit in Essex. She spent 32 days in intensive care, underwent 7 operations, survived 2 bouts of pneumonia, partial lung collapse, GI failure, metabolic instability. It was a roller coaster. The first two weeks were critical and she was extremely poorly. Numerous heart breaking conversations were had - I can't descibe the pain of those weeks. My husband was at the same hospital wit 15 % burns.

Once she turned the corner her progress has been fantastic. She has grafts to her face, hands, tummy, legs and large scars all over. Three times a day I have to cream and masage her, apply silicon gels and dressings, and then put on pressure garments (tight mask, gloves, leggings and body suit) that make her look like a super hero). She is extremely itchy and takes 5 drugs for this but still doesn't sleep well and scratches constantly. It wakes about 3/4 hr to do it properly. She develped blood clots so needs twice daily injections of a type of warfarin that I administer. My husband can't help and his hands are slow to heal (he had grafts up to hs elbows) and he has limited movement and pain in his hands.

So - my life is crap! My beautiful bay girls is scarred and uncomfortable (although copes remarkably well). I constantyl have to go through her massaing routine which she is becoming more tolerant of but is staill ahrd. The worst bi is puting on the gloves. She runs to my husband after I have doen the crap bit. We are back and forward to hospital (2 hr each way) once or twice a week. My poor boys have to play second fiddle all the time and I barely saw them throughout the summer. They are wonderfult o ehr though and super protective. Everywhere we go we are stared out and nudged (she wears a pink balaclava, the opressure garment).

However all this will improve as her scars mature (moths/years rather than weeks).

But here's the crux of it. Will I lose my marriage as well? My husband left a bottle of petrol, in a vegtable oil container, about 10 ft away from the bonfire, whilst in charge of a toddler. I don't know whether she picked it up but it was this that exploded. I have berated him 101 times about using petrol on bonfires, also on putting petrol (or any chemical) in stupid containers. He would give his life to turn the clock back and it was an accident. However it was a completely avoidable accident that I hold him 100% responsible for. He is a broken man but as time goes on I am finidng it harder to forgive rather than easier. What are my other options? A single mum working full time with three small children, one of whom needs an awful lot of care? I just don't know.

chubbasmum Thu 10-Nov-11 12:37:54

omg i am actually fighting back my tears you poor woman my heart really does go out to you as stupid as he was im sure he is being punished by the guilt feeling of causing the family such pain i wish your daughter well i know its too soon but hope you will forgive him and move on because hate can consume you its not good for the kids big hug coming your way xxxxxxxxxx

becstarsky Thu 10-Nov-11 12:40:30

How terrible. I am so sorry for what you've been through. Definitely don't take big decisions about your relationship now. Anger is normal, impossible to avoid it, but let it ebb and flow for a while, and stick with the counselling. Then see how you feel in a year or so as your daughter's life gradually becomes less difficult. How are your DH's injuries now? Is he still in a lot of physical pain too? Does he need help with things? It must be so hard, I am truly sorry. x

Prometheus Thu 10-Nov-11 12:43:36

A very similar thing happened to my mum's best friend. Both her DCs were burnt (one very seriously so, the other superfiical burns). I understand all about the pressure mask, grafts and creams.

15 years later she is still with her DH (he was at fault like in this case) and they are now very happy together.

Best wishes to you and your DD. I just can't imagine the pain and suffering you are all going through.

nenevomito Thu 10-Nov-11 12:45:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ArthurMcAffertyhastwocats Thu 10-Nov-11 12:48:02

This is awful, and you have my full sympathy.

Whether or not you get through it as a couple is, I think, up to you. Counselling, for you as a couple and for you on your own, could help a lot.

A friend found herself in a similar situation with a less happy outcome. Her daughter died as the result of a small but critical error on the part of her husband. After much agonising, she came to the conclusion that it was something that could have happened to anyone - and she is right. We all make mistakes and take risks, and most of us are lucky.

She has worked incredibly hard on her marriage, and on rebuilding trust, as has he. And to their absolute credit, they have come through it and have had more children. I am in awe of them, and what they have done. So it is possible, but it won't be easy.

nenevomito Thu 10-Nov-11 12:50:59

I've asked for my last post to be removed as it outs me a bit but have PMd you.

Pancakeflipper Thu 10-Nov-11 12:56:20

I always get a warm feeling in my tummy when someone apologizes on MN instead of digging their heels in. Good apology Doha.

I am so sorry for what you are going through x

OP. I am so terribly sorry for everything you and your family are going through. I cannot begin to understand your conflicting emotions but it seems like you have tremendous strength of character which I hope will continue to bring your daughter the best possible outcome. I will say that unfortunately I am acquaintances of a couple who lost their toddler daughter about 5 years ago due to a scalding accident. In this instance without giving too much away there was a houseful of guests, each parent thought the other parent had an eye on their only child and the worst thing in the world happened. I know that they had an incredibly difficult time - outside of the obvious dealing with their grief at the loss of the daughter - with the blame issue (although perhaps different in they each thought the other and themselves culpable) but with heavy duty individual and joint counselling they were able to come through it together. I don't believe it has been an easy road but I write it to let you know it is possible to live along side, of course it is something that is always there and cannot be simply 'gotten over'. I wish you all the best in your daughter's road to recovery and the best possible outcome for you in your personal life. Lots of love.

ShoutyHamster Thu 10-Nov-11 13:13:48

Oh OP I am so sorry to hear your story. I have a 22mth old myself. Oh God.

I suppose my advice would be, firstly as others have said, to deliberately and consciously set aside the making of any decision for a long time, a year at least. Set that aside, do not make it another 'thing' to think about. It's a decision for the future.

Secondly, counselling, for yourself, alone, NOT through the hospital, something tailored to this particular issue - that of forgiveness, and blame. I think you need it. From your OP it is quite clear that this is THE major thing for you right now, the stumbling block to everything, and it's not going to go away. I imagine you feel totally torn by even having these emotions, with your husband also so injured (i.e. he also has to live with pain and disfigurement HIMSELF - you do not, etc.). There is NO point in telling yourself, or being told soothingly that it's natural to feel like this, etc. - it's a huge blocker and you need help to decide how you will process this.

Because this IS real. I can see how you have arrived here and there's no point in pretending it will dissipate. I quote Catsdontcare -

'although your husband was very very stupid I think it was an accident that happened because 2 busy parents like most of us do at one time or the other took their eye off the ball for a moment.'

- not really, no. What does the OP's first post home in on - the fact that I have berated him 101 times about using petrol on bonfires, also on putting petrol (or any chemical) in stupid containers. He would give his life to turn the clock back and it was an accident. However it was a completely avoidable accident that I hold him 100% responsible for. - the point that Doha misunderstood, the fact that those stupid, stupid, dangerous actions were his, and that OP had clearly told him a thousand times NOT to take those chances, not to do those irresponsible things. The can exploded because it had bloody petrol in it - what is the point of pretending that could have happened to anyone when it wouldn't have if he'd not taken that chance - THAT is clearly the point where the OP is stuck, where she cannot move forward (into forgiveness, separation - whatever)?

(Not getting at you there Catsdontcare - hope that didn't come out wrong).

OP, you need help with it. Firstly processing and then having a means to move on. The starting point, as others have said, is perhaps that everyone DOES make mistakes and everyone DOES take chances. The second point perhaps is that disasters happen. Yes it was his fault, but it was also an unlikely, awful disaster - in the aftermath, what is more important - surely moving forward as a family to all do the best to not make the effects of the disaster worse. Thirdly, that there being this aspect to it all is much, much harder on all of you than if it had been a random event, such as a car accident. It adds several levels of confusion, hurt - so much more to cope with.

You can't deal with this hideous set of feelings alone, and especially not given what else you have to contend with.

ShoutyHamster Thu 10-Nov-11 13:16:38

Also OP - to say - your little girl is still here. When I started to read your post my awful first thought would be that the ending of it would have been far far more tragic. I'm so glad that isn't the case.

garlicBread Thu 10-Nov-11 13:23:32

I'm so, so sorry to hear of your terrible accident, Bullet. Yes, you must be in shock, traumatised and grieving. Of course you are.

Of course you are beyond angry at your husband's mistake. Of course you feel lonely and unsupported while you tend to your brave girl's injuries. You must feel as though you've been catapulted out of normal life, into some kind of living nightmare. You wouldn't be normal if you didn't. It's horrific - and natural.

His mistake was a mistake. Avoidable, yes. Unusual, no. He doesn't help with DD because he can't - his hands are burnt. You are alone in this, and it's a terrible burden for you.

It will get better. The future of your family isn't what it was six months ago; this in itself is a massive shock and a readjustment. Your mental and emotional landscape has changed forever, as for all of your family. Don't underestimate this: it's grief. It takes more than a year to begin subsiding. As DD's burns improve, and DH's, and you dare to feel sure of the long-term effects, you'll start to see what the future looks like. It's far too early for that yet.

I'm relieved to hear you're doing therapy. Don't expect them to tell you what to think or feel, therapy's more about constructing your own thoughts. I'm sure your thoughts are still reeling from shock, so talking about them is the best course for now. You need to take sufficient care of yourself just now, too, and call on your supporters as often as you need them. You can also ring Samaritans when it feels overwhelming - they're great listeners.

You might find it helpful to read up a bit on grief and post-traumatic stress.

Don't make any decisions or assumptions for now. It's too early. Don't worry about your relationship or forgiveness for now. Just take care of you and yours, making sure there's enough happiness in your lives - doesn't matter if there isn't much; moments will do for now. Thinking of you all.

QuintessentialShadow Thu 10-Nov-11 13:28:34

I am really sorry to hear your story. A wake up call to all I think, when it comes to children and fire.

But I dont think you can say that your husband is 100% to blame. You are probably going to hate me for saying this, but I reckon you are both in part to blame. Two adults, three children. Two fires, one on EACH side of the house, where non of you could see what was going on and keep an eye out.

I think if you are able to accept that in yourself, it will be a lot easier to forgive your husband. I know, however, it is easier for ones own conscience to shift blame 100% to somebody else. Yes, it was stupid to look after a toddler with an open fire, and use petrol. But it was equally stupid to light another fire out of view when this was going on. The fact that the two of you made the decision that this was safe, means you should both shoulder some blame.

It was an awful accident, and it has affected your entire family. sad But it was nevertheless an accident.

nenevomito Thu 10-Nov-11 13:30:22

BulletProofMum - aside from my PM you may also find this group useful http://www.burnedchildrensclub.org.uk/.

There's a contact page on there. I think they are near you as they are based in Essex.

They are lovely, people. While medical professionals are great, sometimes just being able to talk to another parent who really understands where you are right now can be a massive help.

I'll be thinking of you this afternoon.

nenevomito Thu 10-Nov-11 13:34:40

Quint - not helpful.

greengoose Thu 10-Nov-11 13:42:07

I have no words, and nothing to make this better, but let time pass. I think it may be easier for your kids if you stay together (but perhaps not if its horrible in front of them), and I dont think it would be any easier for you if you dont.... not for now anyway.

I have been in situations where I have had to 'just live' for a while, perhaps thats all that can be expected for now? I dont know if you will stay together, but I think you should absolutely have counselling, seperate and couple. It might at least give somewhere for the feelings to go other than round and round your family.

My DP has a different view of what is risky for the kids than me, he does stupid things like leaving tools lying around etc. We talk about it often. He forgets. If something happened because of that to my kids I dont know what I would do. He would have done nothing differently, loved our kids no less, but the world would have changed. I choose to stay with him, through this risk. I guess I am with him now so that is my choice. I just dont know.

I dont know if you have to be brave, or if you just have to keep breathing in and out for long enough and let time help a little. Then see where you both are. I am so sorry this has happened to you all.

TheOriginalFAB Thu 10-Nov-11 13:46:40

Maybe it would help to think you don' t have to forgive or nor forgive, yet. Just concentrate on getting through each day as friends, caring for all your family. Things will work out as they are meant too and hopefully your husband has learnt his lesson.

FWIW DD ended up in hospital after an accident while in my care and she needed a major operation. DH and I sat in the hospital for hours with our new born baby and didn't say a word to each other. I was scared to speak to him in case he was mad at me, he thought I would be cross with him. As I left her in the operating theatre I fell into his arms and sobbed but yet we couldn't speak. It never entered his head to blame or leave me, he knew it was an accident.

Your husband didn't listen to you and it is yolur daughter who is paying the highest price. Don't let her lose her parents being together too.

TheOriginalFAB Thu 10-Nov-11 13:48:13

Quint has a point though I am sure neither parent expected the accident to happen. I am a worrier and always think things through in terms of what might happen. Clearly in my above post, I hadn't done that. I do now.

kerbear Thu 10-Nov-11 13:49:15

You poor thing - I can't imagine what you must be going through. I do think that you need to take some time, both for you and your family, before making any rash decisions. I am sure your husband beats himself up everyday for his actions. I think you both need counselling - individually and together - maybe talking about things will help you to make the right decision.

I wish you and your family all the best in the future and send you lots of hugs xx

BulletProofMum Thu 10-Nov-11 13:52:30

Quint - I hve frequently blamed myself too. However my husband was looking after the baby whilst I was preparing the BarBQ. The gas Barby wasn't lit - I was trailing stuff in and out. There is a large pond near the barby area - something I was paranoid about. I had berated DH only 2 days before for leaving the baby in the courtyard whilst he took rubbish down the drive leaviogn the gate and access to the pond open.

Yes - in hindsight (what a wonderful thing) it was stupid to leave her with DH when he was in charge of a bonfire. It just wouldn't have crossed my mind that he would be so stupid to leave a bottle of petrol, in a plastic container near a fire.

We have all had near misses. And there are a 100 what if's. If I hadn't been insistent on chickens, if I had got home later, if if if if if if if.
I don't see this accident as equivalent to toys on stairs etc, hot cups of tea. Thre are things that we do which may cause accidents and we know they may cause accidents (baths, scalds etc), fires, bonfires, log fires, gas lights in tents, petrol in a plastic container near a bonfire crossed aline. Particularly as I had asked hime not to do this. accidents are always a build up of small things. In this case these things were big and previously been pointed out.

Doha - thanks for the apology.

ScarlettIsWalking Thu 10-Nov-11 13:54:45

You poor Woman - you must still be in a kind of shock, after witnessing what you did that day. sad

My sister suffered a terrible accident 20 yrs ago as a teen. It was no one's fault but my aunt who was the first to see her after what happened was shaken for many, many years after.

I think it is so understandable that you are angry at your husband. He was so, so stupid and your DD paid the price of that.

I truly wish you peace and your DD a recovery and good health.. I pray you get back to a kind of normality.

How fragile we actually are.

BulletProofMum Thu 10-Nov-11 13:55:56

I am despererate to keep my marriage. I want to remain as a family. DH is a good father and we were happy before. I am just scared at the moment we won't be able to. As time passes I find it harder not easier. I know it's early days - but it's so bloody hard. I just want my life back.

I went back to work a couple of weeks ago. It's great as I get a break from being a carer and DD is well cared for and happy at nursery.

levantine Thu 10-Nov-11 13:59:05

For what it's worth, I agree with you OP. I think he was negligent. I don't think you can talk or think yourself out of that, no matter what other people say

nenevomito Thu 10-Nov-11 14:03:36

BMP - You can keep your marriage and you will get your life back. No it won't be exactly the same as it was before, but it won't be this awful for ever.

I am not surprised its getting harder. You've spent the last months having to deal with the "Now" of it all. Having to do things that are so hard, but have to be done and have to be coped with. Its only when the urgency f it all calms down that you have time to realise what a huge adjustment and change it has made to all of your lives. The relief that she, and you, survived those hard first months is being replaced with you coming to terms with the changes this has made to all of your lives.

I liken it to PTSD and I think what the parents of children with serious burns or other serious injuries really go through this. It is hard.

BulletProofMum Thu 10-Nov-11 14:04:21

Right - I'm at work and weepy - time to get off here - thanks for all of your support and comments. I'll keep you posted.

Last time I was on MN was when I was pregnant with DD - strange coming back here. I guess I needed some anonymous support, opnions. My story is fairly distinct so outed I will be.

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