A Mother’s Memory: Make the Guilt Go Away

By: Sanja Poje & Natasha Barrett

November 12, 2019 is the day I will never forget. That is the day my baby boy turned 15 months old. We had so many fun things planned for that day. Ayden woke up in such a good mood, Daddy just got home after his 24 hour shift from the fire station and we were all playing in our bedroom. Mike laid down for a nap. Ayden and I followed our morning routine…diaper change, make coffee, make a bottle and let our dog go outside.

One Thing Was Different

The only thing we did differently that day was that I went to let the dog in by myself because it was the first cold day of the year and I thought the baby should stay inside and stay warm.

I stepped outside for 5 seconds and I heard a scream I will never forget. A scream that made my heart stop, a scream that told me something is very, very wrong. I ran inside and I saw my baby laying on the floor, next to the stove with the coffee pot next to him. I immediately knew what happened. I screamed for Mike and I ran upstairs, holding Ayden in my arms. 

We took Ayden’s pajamas off of him and checked for injuries while running a cold bath for him. Right then, it was very clear that Ayden needed to go to the closest hospital. The skin on Ayden’s wrist was missing and his arms were full of large blisters. Not thinking about anything other than getting help for Ayden, we brought him to Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital wearing just his diaper and looking back I was only wearing my bath robe and slippers. 

The sound of Ayden screaming will stay with me forever. It took more than an hour before he stopped crying. After getting some pain medication, the doctor bandaged Ayden’s arms and he was transferred to Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital so he can see the Director of Pediatric Burns Dr. Todd Huzar.

Those Five Seconds

I knew the burns were pretty bad, but I was not prepared for everything that happened next. Ayden needed a skin graft. I remember laying with my baby in the hospital bed when the reality sank in. I could not control my tears, my heart was broken. I blamed myself for my son’s pain and his injuries. I wish I had not looked away for those five seconds. Those five seconds changed us forever. 

I prayed to God that Ayden would not need surgery, that it would not be necessary. My heart broke when I heard Pediatric Plastic Surgeon Dr. Matthew Greives tell us Ayden’s burns are so severe that he needed surgery. The surgery was scheduled for Friday morning. Michael and I made sure we learned how to properly change the dressing on Ayden’s arms.

Ayden seemed like he was having fun with all the attention he was getting from all the hospital staff. It seemed like we walked our floor so many times that every nurse and every doctor knew Ayden’s name and came to talk to him. 

The day of the surgery was one of the most heart wrenching days of my life. I was holding my baby while nurses were prepping him for the surgery. When it was time to put him in the hospital bed and say goodbye, he gave us the biggest smile and then I broke down. I was terrified and again the heavy weight of guilt came racing back.

Luckily the surgery did not take that long and Dr. Greives came out to tell us that everything went well and we could go see our baby boy. 

We spent five days at the hospital and I was so happy to finally go home.


We realize there is still a long road of recovery ahead for us, but I was not prepared for all the emotions and flashbacks once we get home. It took a lot of conversations with Michael and our friends to realize what happened to Ayden was not my fault. It took a lot of internal conversations with myself to finally forgive myself. 

Knowing how much I love my child made me realize that it was not my fault. Accidents can happen to anyone and they happen every day. If an accident can happen, I feel moving forward to fix the problem is more important than spending all your time and energy blaming yourself. 

Ayden is doing very well now, he is wearing a wrist compression glove to protect his fragile skin and reduce scars. He is back to being a happy, little boy. He does miss one things from the hospital. Ayden only allowed one person to give him a hug outside of our family. Dr. Greives received a hug from Ayden every time he saw him. We are forever grateful to Dr. Greives for helping our little boy and for making this experience a little less awful for all of us.

Learn more about the treatment of burns at Memorial Hermann, visit http://childrens.memorialhermann.org/services/treatment-of-burn-wounds/


  1. God Bless you and HIS grace and mercy shall continue to heal your son while, also, healing your heart.

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Ali Vise