Dream Shard Blog: The Scintillating Adventures of Our Household

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May '12

England and Spain Adventure, Day 2: The Very Worst, Most Awful Night

We crashed around 6:30 pm the day we arrived in London, England. We were all dead tired. Our hotel room was set up for families with two bedrooms. We slept in one and the kids in the other.

Carissa woke up a few times, crying, and I went in to check on her around 9:30 and 10 pm. I last remember looking at my watch at 9:53 pm and seeing Wes asleep on the single bed when I looked in at Carissa in her crib.

At 12:30 am or so Carissa woke again, and when I checked her I thought she needed a diaper change. I pulled off her pants and turned to find a diaper. And that’s when I saw that Wesley’s bed was empty.

I didn’t have my contacts in and couldn’t see well in the dark, so I ran to the other room, got my glasses, came back and flipped on the light. I looked under the beds, everywhere, and he was nowhere. I started to panic.

I woke up John and he got dressed while I called the reception desk. I reported Wesley missing. I gave them his description and they told me they’d search the hotel. Meanwhile, John headed out to look and he asked me to do one more, thorough search of our room. I did, which included the balcony outside, but he definitely wasn’t in the room. And, thankfully, the balcony was the kind with solid cement walls that wouldn’t be easy for him to fall off of if he ended up out there (which he could have, because the balcony door DIDN’T HAVE A LOCK, and it was located in the room with two single beds–obviously meant for kids).

The London Hilton Docklands is an old, historic building with a weird layout. We were on the fourth floor near the elevator. You come up the elevator and you can choose to go straight through two heavy fire doors that lead to our room and two others, or you can turn right or left through glass doors that lead to other corridors and other rooms. All the rooms wrap around a big courtyard in the middle. It’s kind of a maze, typical of such an old building.

John went down the elevator to look for Wes. We’d only ever gone up and down the elevator, and Wes likes pushing the buttons, so it would make sense for him to try it. Although if he used the elevator, who knows which floor he’d get off on?

I wrapped Carissa in my cardigan (she still didn’t have on pants, and it was chilly outside) and I knocked on our neighbors’ doors. I’m sure they didn’t appreciate this at nearly 1 in the morning, but I did it anyway. Then I went through the glass door that leads down one corridor near the elevator, calling Wesley’s name.

I can’t even describe the fear, panic, and heartbreak I felt. I’ve never panicked like I did then. I’ve never worried like I did then. Anyone who knows Wes and our family knows that we have concerns about him wandering off and losing him. He’s just prone to it. A lot of people with Down syndrome are. I couldn’t believe my worst fear was happening.

What if he was hurt, or lost, or scared? What if someone had taken him and was hurting him? My heart broke at the thought. He is my precious, precious boy. I prayed a lot.

I started down one of the corridors leading away from the elevator, but I was doubtful he actually went that way. We had never pushed through those glass doors, and I thought he wouldn’t even notice them. I didn’t stay there long and decided to head down the elevator as well to continue looking.

The doors opened to the first floor and I instantly met the night manager, talking on his intercom. He was simultaneously speaking into the intercom while trying to tell me something, and he wasn’t doing a good job doing both. He said to me, “My colleague is–” and then he went back to the intercom: “You’re outside the room?” I just wanted him to spit it out, because obviously it was about Wes.

He finally told me that his colleague had located Wes, and that he was OK. I think I’ll leave out the part where I broke down into sobs of relief when he said this. We got into the elevator together and went back up to the room.

There was the hotel employee walking toward us, carrying Wes. He handed Wes to me and I hugged him. I think it upset Wes that I was crying, but I really could not help it. He was completely fine and safe. The employee had found him wandering around one of the corridors on our floor, so he had indeed pushed through one of the glass doors and found his way out. I don’t know how long he had been gone, but he wasn’t notably cold.

John, Carissa, Wes, and I returned to our room. We decided Wes had woken up, gotten out of bed and, not being familiar with the hotel room or where we were sleeping, headed out the door. We were so dead tired and deeply asleep that we just didn’t hear him.

How did he get out of a locked hotel door? The deadbolt on the door WAS BROKEN. We didn’t notice this when we had locked it earlier that evening.

So, how to get back to sleep at 2:30 in the morning when you don’t want to leave your kid unattended in his bed? You build barricades.

We became really adept at this at every hotel we stayed in over the course of our trip.

First thing in the morning we called maintenance and told them to come up and install a new deadbolt, which they did.

This really shook us up. We always try to keep track of our kids (what parent doesn’t?), but our anxiety and carefulness was definitely heightened.

In fact, when we returned home and walked into our own house, one of the first things Wes did was go downstairs to the basement to play with his toys that he missed. As soon as he was out of eyesight and gripping distance I felt anxious. I mentioned this to John, and he said he felt it too. We were just so used to making sure we always knew where he was and exactly what he was doing, but we had to tell ourselves it was OK for him to play in the safety of our own home again.

Never, NEVER want to go through that again.

On to day two in London.

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