Two days before Sabrina and Justin Ernst’s big day, which was scheduled for Oct. 6 at Wentworth Golf Club in Tarpon Springs, Fla., their 6-month-old son, Layton, fell off the kitchen counter while sitting in his bouncy chair. Justin had placed the seat on the counter while preparing a bottle for him, and when he looked away briefly, Layton toppled off, hitting his head on the floor.
Sabrina, 36, was getting a manicure when she received a call from her distraught husband. “I ripped the foil off my fingernails and drove 25 minutes in rush-hour traffic to the hospital,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
Layton’s CT scans showed a subdural hematoma, which occurs when blood pools at the brain’s surface. In many cases, it can be fatal. The baby was airlifted to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., to assess whether he needed surgery. “Layton looked different when I saw him — dazed, with unfocused eyes,” says Sabrina.
Over the next few days, the couple stayed by Layton’s side in the pediatric intensive-care unit, while doctors monitored the bleed, along with a possible neck injury.
“Our wedding day rolled around, and we realized that we hadn’t told any of our guests what happened,” says Sabrina. “The hospital encouraged us to go and get married, but we just couldn’t.”
The couple considered canceling the event, held on Sabrina’s late grandmother’s birthday, but the hospital had a better idea: move the ceremony and reception to its on-site chapel and cafeteria.
“After we had everyone’s support, we called friends and family to tell them about the change in plans,” says Sabrina. While the hair and makeup stylists and the D.J. were canceled, the venue graciously offered to cook, package and deliver their food, and friends volunteered to pick up the cake and floral arrangements.
“We hadn’t showered for two days, so we rushed home to get ready,” says Sabrina. She had planned to wear a beautiful blush-pink dress that matched Layton’s tiny tuxedo; however, she quickly decided on a simple white dress. “My original wedding gown didn’t feel right,” she says. Justin also ditched his sleek charcoal suit for a blue button-down shirt.
Later that day, the couple’s 68 guests assembled in the hospital chapel to witness Sabrina and Justin walk down the aisle, pushing a sleeping Layton in a stroller.
Two days later, doctors determined that Layton was healthy enough to return home. “I know similar accidents have ended differently, and it gives me chills to think about losing Layton — we are very fortunate,” says Sabrina. “And our wedding day was just perfect.”
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