Boy, 18 Months, Slips Through Railing and Falls Off Deck: How His Mom Has Worked Through Guilt (Exclusive)

Sara Busser struggled to process her emotions after her 18-month-old son fell off their deck

<p>Sara Busser</p> Sara Busser and her son, Briggs

Sara Busser

Sara Busser and her son, Briggs
  • Sara Busser opened up to her TikTok followers about the scary moment when her son fell off her deck

  • Though the 18-month-old suffered no injuries, Busser still struggled to reckon with the accident and experienced waves of panic, mom guilt and anxiety

  • She spoke to PEOPLE about how she coped with her emotional reaction and how the incident affected her parenting style

Following a scary accident at her home in May, Sara Busser decided to start an online conversation about mom guilt and anxiety.

The Rhode Island parent took to TikTok to detail how her son fell off their home deck while her back was turned. Busser called the experience "the scariest moment of my life," in the caption of her video, which received over 111,000 views on the app.

In her TikTok, the mom shared that she was sitting with her mother-in-law when her 18-month-old son, Briggs, managed to squeeze through her deck's railing. Busser heard a loud bang followed by crying after Briggs dropped around two to three feet down onto her HVAC unit.

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While Busser and her mother-in-law raced over and reached Briggs just moments after the fall, the TikToker told her viewers how the panic distorted her sense of time.

"It's true what they say in these traumatic events," she said in the clip. "It felt like that was five minutes because I hadn't seen him yet, and he was just sitting there on the ground crying."

Fortunately, Briggs suffered no major injuries. He came out of the fall with just a few bruises and a bump on his head, but no sign of concussion, which the mom tells PEOPLE she confirmed at a next-day check up.

Since the accident, Busser and her husband have updated their deck and added extra screening to prevent their son from slipping through the railing again.

<p>Sara Busser</p> The deck Sara Busser's son fell down from

Sara Busser

The deck Sara Busser's son fell down from

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Shortly after the close-call, Briggs' tears dried, he returned to playing and he finished his day with a full dinner. His mother, on the other hand, had far more trouble moving on from the incident. In her emotional recap, she described the lingering questions that haunted her mind.

"If you are a mother, you can probably feel in your body this feeling that I'm feeling — the 'what if?' and the guilt. How could this have happened under my watch? How did I not see him? How did this happen?" she told the camera.

"I have struggled with major anxiety my entire life, and I have been so proud of myself for how I have been mothering my son in a way that isn't helicoptering and paranoid and anxious," she continued. "I've really been making such an effort to let him explore and just know he's going to fall, he's going to get hurt, but now I don't know. I'm worried that this is going to set me back in that way."

<p>Sara Busser</p> Sara Busser with her husband and their son, Briggs

Sara Busser

Sara Busser with her husband and their son, Briggs

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Busser opened up to PEOPLE about how she's managed to cope with the guilt and anxiety triggered by the fall. The most immediate help, she says, came from her mother-in-law, who reassured Busser that she couldn't have controlled the situation.

"My mother-in-law was right there in that moment with me," the mom of one recalls. "Knowing that she is a mom and was a mom to young kids ... and her being able to look me in the eye and just say, 'This happens. This is not your fault.' "

In the 24 hours that followed Briggs' fall, Busser says she experienced a "full trauma release" similar to a panic attack. In her practice as a mind-body healing coach, she's learned that it's important to "let those emotions just all come out."

<p>Sara Busser</p> Sara Busser with her son, Briggs

Sara Busser

Sara Busser with her son, Briggs

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"It was extremely painful because it almost felt like I was grieving, as if the worst had happened to my son, but I allowed myself to just really feel it," Busser says. "I do think that that has been a part of what's allowed me to just let go of the trauma of the experience."

The toddler mom notes that the scary near-emergency has actually helped break down some of her perfectionistic parenting tendencies.

"In a weird way, it almost allowed me to recognize that even when I'm doing my best, or even if I were to somehow achieve perfection, the world still gives us things that are out of our control," she tells PEOPLE. "While that can feel really scary, it also in a sense gave me a little bit of peace and made me feel less anxious moving forward."

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Read the original article on People.