I scalded my baby granddaughter

I can't live with myself for what I've done. I've probably scarred for life my tiny 6 month old baby granddaughter's leg. I can't get her scream out of my head. I so wish it had been me that the water spilled on, even if it had been all down my face I would rather that than have what happened. I moved right across the country with the sole purpose of looking after her when her mother goes back to work in April. I've had her nearly every day. She's got used to me, smiled when she sees me, we've had such loving grandma/granddaughter times. I'd taken her to a little playgroup last week for the under ones and she had probably the nicest afternoon she's ever had with me. Before going back to her mum I thought I'd give her a bottle and went into Waitrose café to get a thermos flask of hot water to heat up her bottle. The café assistant filled up a thermos flask with boiling water, and put that into a jug and screwed the jug lid on. Then I did the most insane thing I've ever done in my life and put the unit on the buggy top whilst I pushed the heavy buggy to the table. The water must have come pouring out because in 10 seconds the baby started to scream an unearthly scream. I took her out not knowing why she was screaming, her little tights were wet, I pulled them off and saw all the skin peeled off on the inside of her right thigh. I ran to the kitchen, baby's leg was held under the cold tap, every member of staff at Waitrose seemed to be around me, the paramedics came, baby just screamed and screamed and screamed. After 20 minutes in the cold water, the leg was put in clingfilm and the paramedics put the blue light on the ambulance and we were rushed to And E. From A and E we had to go to the Burns Unit. My daughter, the baby's mother, was as white as a sheet, ordered me to go, wouldn't let me kiss the baby's head, told me I would never ever see the baby again. The baby had to have a general anaesthetic the next morning and a skin graft is 50/50 depending if the area gets any worse. My daughter texted me to say everyone thinks I am insane for putting the unit on top of the buggy. Her last text three days ago said "I hate you so much. You did this. YOU! You'll never see the baby agaIn - EVER. You have scarred her leg for life. I HATE YOU!". I can't live with myself for what I've done. I never gave the thought the thermos flask would leak a second thought. The boiling water was inside the thermos flask which was inside another unit with another screwed-on cap. I just had to write all this down on here, I cant sleep for hearing that scream. I think it will haunt me to the day I die. I know it's all my fault and that is killing me. I just never thought. I am so stupid. Insane. I love that baby and would give my life for her.

16 Replies

  • Oh Sarah what an awful story, I'm so glad that it wasn't any worse for the baby. There's no point in telling you that putting the flask on the top of the pram was not a wise move - you know that. What has happened is hugely unfortunate, but not a result of any ill intention or neglect. Your daughter is understandably very hurt and angry. She put her trust in you and she feels betrayed. Let the baby's health be her immediate concern and in time she will begin to understand that what has happened was just a terrible accident x

  • Hi Sarah, this sounds like SUCH a traumatic experience for you. Clearly you love your grandchild very deeply and have a very strong bond- it is absolutely clear that you would never intentionally hurt her in ANY way. Clearly what happened is really tragic and extreemly difficult for you and your daughter to come to terms with, but it is also important to recognise it for what it is- a tragic accident. Accidents can and do happen to everyone- obviously it is every mother (and grandmothers) worst nightmare for such accidents to effect children but even the most caring and loving family members can sometimes make mistakes that can have such consequences. I am so sorry to hear that your daughter said these things to you- probably she is in a lot of shock and very frightened. This does not mean though that with time she will not come to recognise that you have been a loving and attentive grandmother in SO many ways and that it would be tragic to allow this accident to deprive you and your granddaughter of the relationship you so clearly cherish with her. I expect that you will continue to go over and over what happened for some time, and be very critical of yourself, but please just try to feel some compassion towards yourself if you can- you meant the very best for your granddaughter and love her very much- we are all fallible.

  • I also want to suggest that you may want to get some support if you feel it would be helpful- such as going to your GP and possibly getting some counselling sessions to talk this through with someone who is not involved in any way. Best of luck

  • I keep hearing her scream, seeing her little face as the boiling water reached her. God I am such a bad person. So stupid.. I saw the young girl screw the top on the flask, well I thought she did, then I saw her put it in another jug and screw that down too. The buggy was heavy so I just put the unit on the top and started walking to my table. The thermos flask must have not been secured. If I had carried it it would have gone down me. How I wish that had happened. I believe in my heart of hearts that the baby will be ok. She has such doting parents and has known nothing but love from the second she was born. My daughter lost her first baby so she absolutely adores this precious one. I just can't believe I will never see them again. We were so happy. I absolutely adored my granddaughter.

  • Sarah I never usually reply to these but your post has moved me to tears. We all do things without thinking but in your case clearly you thought it was secure. I ended up with my baby in a and e last week after she swallwwed a button battery (which can be lethal) that I had let one of her older brothers leave on a coffee table. Please don't blame yourself. Keep calm and try to find other things to keep you occupied. It sounds like your daughter went through a trauma with her first baby and that explains some of the reaction. I'm sure she will realise that this was simply an awful accident and come round. Just give her time. We've all lashed out at our mothers, it's part of the relationship, I'm sure in the long term your daughter will trust you again and I hAve no doubt you will have a relationship with you r granddaughter.

  • {{{{{{{{{{{{{{HUGS}}}}}}}}}}}}}

    Give your daughter and grand-daughter time to recover. You said she had lost a child before so her emotions are naturally going to be off-the-scale right now. She needs time, my thoughts are with all of you.

    I know it is easier said than done, but do find other thoughts to fill your head when the image of the accidents keeps whirling around in your head... The one blessing is that at 6 months your granddaughter will forget most of it long before the grown-ups calm down. Do be prepared for some follow up surgery to improve the skin grafts,

  • she hasn't had a skin graft yet -- apparently it's 50/50. I don't know why she went to theatre the next morning. No-one is telling me anything. The only comfort I'm getting is knowing for sure she is getting loads of loving cuddles. Thank you for being kind.

  • Hi Sarah, I am so sorry for this, you do not deserve this. I must inform you of something I found out the other day - I work in a shop which sells flasks, and I noticed that somebody had requested a refund on a flask because it leaked, and another cashier must have returned the item, because I picked it up, and decided to read the label. The label on the flask said that it WAS NOT leak proof. I thought, duh, what's the point of the flask if it doesn't keep the liquid hot and stay leak proof. So what I am trying to tell you is that most people DO think that flasks don't leak, so it was an honest mistake.

    Secondly, my mother left a jug of hot water with a bottle of milk in it on the table when I was very little. She forgot that the tablecloth hung so low over the edge of the table. Anyway, I ended up pulling the table cloth and the jug full of boiling water came pouring down over my arm. I have a scar on my left arm now (I'm 23) because of this. But know this, I honestly don't care about it. I don't even know it's there half the time. And I certainly don't blame my mother. I am so sorry the babies' mother is reacting this way, but she is just having a normal emotional reaction, and I believe she should see a bit of sense (that it was an accident) in time.

    Take care Sarah. XX

  • You're daughter needs to know that the two most important things in our lives is to learn how to love and learn how to forgive . . .

  • yes. she's refusing to give me any news about the baby. I'm heartbroken. She will carry on punishing me. I know it. Sometimes it feels too painful to go on, stomach churning, can't sleep etc. I keep hoping the next day will be less painful but it gets worse. Life is so hard sometimes.

  • Accident happen. ITs tragidy, but you didnt hurt baby on purpose. Have a look on Google to see if the babys mum has posted anything on any websites. You nevre know, you might find out what you need to know. Good luck. As mum i can imagine how sad this must be for you.

  • Sarah, I'm so sorry to hear what happened and I had to offer you hugs and support. It was an accident, accidents happen. Of course your daughter was upset but her reaction seems typical of so many of the young these days and of our culture, they have to have someone to blame. I was reminded the other day of a long ago accident that happened to my brother when he was a young London bus driver - a young boy out on a first ride on his new birthday bike went under the bus and was crushed to death. The parents came to see my brother and they all hugged and cried and they told him over and over that it wasn't his fault and that accidents happen. You can't imagine that now can you?

    I can imagine doing what you did. If the assistant had screwed up the top then why wouldn't you assume the flask was watertight? I expect Waitrose are terrified that you or your daughter will sue them!! What's the betting you will shortly find a ban on filling up customers flasks being imposed?!

    Medical care is excellent these days and your granddaughter is so young there is I imagine an excellent chance the scarring will be minimal. As things improve I hope your daughter will develop some compassion and insight. Don't let her lash you with this for years. If you, like countless grandparents, hadn't been looking after the baby she'd have been 'stuck at home' or paying for childcare. Well done you for doing the looking after and I hope you can find some support, love and peace. Accidents happen to the nicest people. Xxxxxxx

  • Thank you for that. A lovely reply. Apparently the baby developed an infection on part of the burn and also she has a very deep burn at the knee joint at the back which might hamper her walking. She will need support garments and she is in pain a lot. I know all this through my daughter emailing me with yet more abuse -- really horrible abuse, not just a couple of sentences -- and she has told everyone on facebook what I've done!!! She's told me she's taking all my savings she holds and she's using it all for things for the baby, both now and in the future. I'm talking about a huge amount of money that she owed me but is now refusing to hand back. In fact she said she'll just say I told her to use it all for the baby. So I've got no comeback at all. Yes I would have given some of the money for the baby but I never said that. I am DEVASTATED, not to mention totally broke now. I miss the baby so much. I adored her. I just know I'll never see her as a little baby again. My daughter's a highly qualified mental health nurse by the way. Unbelievable isn't it.....

  • Hi, it sounds like you are in a horrible situation, you must feel devastated. I hope you've got a way of getting away for it for a few hours sometimes. I had a lot of trouble with our oldest daughter a couple of years ago and it really shocked me some of the things she said. It's mended a bit now but it's very hard to forget. The money bit must be an additional worry. As to your daughter being a qualified mental health nurse, well hopefully that means she'll come to her senses a bit one day and stop being so harsh. Maybe it also means she's got some colleagues who will help her deal with it? I have for a long time thought/observed that therapists and counsellors can have shockingly terrible private lives! Poor you, hope you've got some one to one support and that things improve in the near future. all the best.

  • Thank you Annie, I live in hope but I sometimes wonder if I can ever find it in me to forgive my daughter for what she's done and continuing to do. She knows how much I adore my granddaughter but she seems hell bent on making me pay for hurting her. Everyone says it wasn't my fault and that does help although I will always feel guilty for putting that hot water near her. But like you said I trusted Waitrose and never gave a second thought that the top wasn't screwed on properly xx

  • thinking of you, sorry the situation is leading to so much heart-ache all round, even nurses like your daughter can handle situations badly. Want to send you a hug. One of the replies here from missie was from someone who had a burn as a child, and things worked out with time. I would consider the legal position moneywise if you think the daughter really is going to do something impulsive there. xxxx. A

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