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Cohen standing on barrel

The one time my kid fell out of a window

Facebook is a time capsule that reminds us of life’s biggest moments. It also reminds us of the not so great moments. All of these, both good and bad define us. I had one of those defining moments on May 21st, 2008. I swear death-defining moments should not happen before coffee but that’s what happened. It was a normal weekday morning until it wasn’t. To this day, it makes me cringe to think about. I recently found when I posted about it on Facebook that several of my mom friends are in the club with me. It is a club for those of us that have had a kid fall out of a window.

Morning silence followed by chaos

I was barely through my first cup of coffee and was reading the newspaper (that’s how long ago this happened). My middle son yelled downstairs, somewhat panicked, but in a casual demeanor. “Mom, Cohen fell out of the window!” I knew my 5-year-old son was playing a computer game in his brother’s room. It didn’t make sense that my youngest (18-months at the time) would fall out the window. Why would he? How would he? Nothing made sense so I didn’t react. A minute or so later, my son walked down the first couple steps so he could see me in the living room. He repeated, “Mom, Cohen fell out the window.” And then he was gone. He might as well have said, “I want pancakes for breakfast.” It was so nonchalant. That’s when I heard the faint cry of someone crying outside the window.

Not winning any Mother-of-the-year awards

Any mother’s reaction in a crisis situation when looked back on could be classified as bizarre. My reactions that followed were not textbook. You learn in First Aid class to not move a victim. So, that’s exactly what I did. Upon opening the door, Cohen sat in a bush that was directly below the bedroom window he had fallen out of minutes before. My motherly instincts picked him up to comfort him. Step two of my not-so-perfect response was to call my husband at work. Not 9-1-1. Magnum had a bad habit of answering his office phone in speaker mode. When he answered he and his office mates received an earful, mainly an expletive-laden barrage of words. I wanted to know who had opened the @#$&?! upstairs window and I was pretty sure I already knew the answer.

A blur of activity, followed by fog

My husband calmly redirected my misguided anger toward calling for help. In my mind, I was saying, “I don’t feel like going to the Emergency Room today.” I did call for help. But I also realized that I nor my kid were in any condition to greet visitors. I could hear the volunteer department fire alarm go off in town so I figured I had only a couple moments to spruce myself up (a.k.a. put on a bra). Still holding my screaming child, I ran upstairs got dressed, and changed his diaper. I know! I told you, I’m not good at this kind of thing. EMT’s and paramedics soon arrived. I ushered them in. And as if out of a movie, they cleared off my dining room table, slapped down a backboard, and began assessing my kid. Like I would many times that day, I explained to them what happened. I desperately wanted to tell them, “I’m not a bad mom!” Unfortunately, this was not my first time in an ambulance with one of my kids. I have a full bag of stories to share eventually.

I need a hero!

EMT’s took us to the closest hospital. Much of that part is foggy. However, there were two things that stand out.  One moment was when our minister, Jim walked in the door. The look on his face told me just how serious this situation was and that he would try to make it okay. The second was when someone announced, “The bird is 20 minutes out.” Bird? My husband is in the Air Force and I have worked in a trauma center, I knew then that they weren’t talking about crows or a pretty red cardinal. The CT had shown narrowing of the spinal cord. Another surreal moment was when they took us to the helipad on the roof. There is a dedicated elevator to the roof. As Cohen was still strapped to the backboard, they wheeled him through the halls. People backed up against the walls as we passed. I could hear their whispers. “Oh, that poor baby!”

I document these times because in them I find heroes. I can’t remember names or faces but I remember how they made me feel. On this particular LifeFlight, there was a pilot, a flight nurse, and a tech. I was buckled into the front seat of the helicopter while Cohen was loaded underneath and behind me. The pilot gave me a headset and some basic passenger instructions. You could tell he knew the gravity of the situation but his voice was soothing. We took off soon after. I could see Pastor Jim standing down below by his car, ready to drive to the trauma center about 45 minutes north. The pilot talked to the air traffic controllers and then we started our journey. My husband was at that time a flight commander of the local Air Force base air traffic controllers. They were the ones that talked to the pilot that day. A friend of mine was actually in the tower when the flight took off. At some point, the flight nurse, called to me to tell me that Cohen had fallen asleep. Heroes were all around us that day.

Lessons I learned that day my kid fell out of the window

To wrap up this story, he ended up being fully evaluated and released after being observed all day. As Pastor Jim likes to say, “A miracle happened on the flight that day”. Certainly seems that way. I know thousands of kids fall out of windows every year and many are not as fortunate as Cohen. My friend Angie wrote an article that included Cohen’s story. Read more: https://www.militaryspouse.com/military-life/are-your-kids-safe-playing-upstairs/.

I did a lot of things wrong. Afterward, it took forgiving myself for not being attentive to my kids. Every time I had to explain to a medical professional what happened, I felt they were judging me. They probably weren’t. Sitting in a medivac flight with your kid is one of the worst experiences for a parent. I had to let go of anger aimed at my husband for leaving the window open. In hindsight, I realized I was suffering from PTSD. Above all, I looked for heroes in our situation and thank God for watching over us and planting that bush underneath the window. We had a lot of prayer warriors that day. It could have ended much worse. I share Cohen’s story because there are other parents out there who have had a kid fall from a window. I’m not alone. I also share so that another mother doesn’t have to go through that experience.

But it wouldn’t be the last time I was in an ambulance with one of my kids. To be continued.

Water, water everywhere…and places it shouldn’t be

flood living room and dining

Flood in the living room looking toward the dining room. Seconds after discovery. ©missykuester.com

It’s that first step off the stairs that makes one weary. A couple of days ago it was the first indication that things were not okay in my house. Why would the carpet be wet and not just wet but that there would be standing water? The simple act of starting the washing machine the night before turned out to be a big regret. But I’ve done it hundreds of times. I have always said that a cup of water on the floor seems to turn into gallons. Water, water everywhere…and places it shouldn’t be.

Help is on the way as soon as I call them

I had yelled for my husband and sons as soon as I figured out what was what. Then there was this moment when I couldn’t figure out what to do next. My husband was shutting off the water and I was questioning everything and nothing at the same time. It didn’t make sense. I had my phone in my hand but it took me minutes before I could unscramble my brain and do something. So I called Todd, the landlord’s fix-it guy. He can do anything. I texted him a picture. No words you want your handyman to say, “That’s more water than I can handle.” Yeah, Todd, me too! (Todd’s the best by the way)

Suck it up, Buttercup

I called ServPro but because my house is a rental the landlord has to take financial responsibility for their services. I couldn’t get ahold of my landlord so we began sucking up water! Thankfully our neighbors came to the rescue with their Shop Vacs. And apparently, I am no indebted to them for life.

Cleaning up water
Cleaning up water in the aftermath ©missykuester.com

Not as cool as a wind tunnel

Then came things I never knew existed. ServPro showed up in force the next few days and measured moisture, tore out insulation and baseboards, and installed dryers, fans and heaters. I do not recommend flooding your house. However, it saved me from cleaning my house.

Yea, it’s loud in my house. The fans have run 24/7 since this thing started. I have lost hearing I think! And it makes it over 100 degrees in my house. Chocolate has melted. It’s sad.

They then installed these pads and tubes. Looks like that alien on Monsters Inc.

Tubes drying kitchen floor
Tubes piping in hot hair into the kitchen floors

And as if it wasn’t challenging enough, they covered the tubes with plastic. It became a giant inflatable Twister mat with hidden tubes that you can roll your ankle on.

What to do to ensure your washer doesn’t flood your house

I have found that it’s best to learn from other people’s experiences versus trying these things for yourself. So take it from us. Here are some things you can do so that this doesn’t happen to you.

Use a tray underneath your washer. You can buy one at Home Depot for a fraction of the cost to clean up the water. Some even have drains that you can have a plumber connect and run outside.


If possible install a drain in your laundry room.

There are also water alarms you can place on the floor of your laundry room that will scream at you when it detects water. Again you can get them at any local Lowe’s, Home Depot or local hardware. Alarms will go off, alerts will be sent, and a disaster avoided.


My neighbor added water detection to her alarm system for less than $20 a month that will send an alert to your phone if a leak is detected.

If you build a house, be mindful of where you build the laundry room. Can it be built lower than the rest of the house? For example, a step down from the rest of the house. Our laundry room is next to our kitchen at the same height.

Service your washing machine often. Ours gave us no indication anything was about to go wrong.

Do not run the washer overnight or while you are gone

Install flooring that can act as a barrier. Water in our house seeped underneath ruining the wood under the flooring.

I am sure there are other things that I’m not thinking of right now. So please leave a comment and tell me what more people can do.

The moral of the story…

Water is destructive. I now see why floods are disastrous. There are things you can do to ward off such an event. We blame ourselves for not taking precautions. We have lived in 15 houses since we got married and not one of them had any of the things mentioned above.

At the end of the day, my floors got clean, nothing of mine was destroyed, and we were always safe and had a place to sleep at night. Inconveniences were our biggest problems. We drank more alcohol than we should have but learned a valuable lesson. Besides, the obvious lessons learned from the malfunctioning washer there are life lessons. Learn from other people’s misfortunes. Water, like life, is unpredictable and takes unknown and unpredictable paths. It can be a source of life or it can drown you. We can go with the flow or fight the current. One thing we can’t do is stand in the stream of water and fail to make a decision. And sometimes, you don’t even want to be in the water but that’s where you end up.

Water quote by N. Sparks
Water quote by Nicholas Sparks from the book and movie The Notebook