‘And now we do the flour Mama?’ my four-year-old girl Lani, asked sweetly.
We were making a cake for my birthday celebrations.
All the family were at my mum Brandy’s house and, although it was a bit much at nearly eight months pregnant, I was loving having everyone together.
After popping our creation in the oven, Lani and I went outside to the front garden where my brother Mason, 18, was fixing our old kid’s go-kart.
My husband, Jacob, 23, wandered over to take a look at the 17-year-old kart just as I was explaining its family history to Lani.
‘This was what me and uncle Mason used to ride in when we were little,’ I explained.
‘And your uncle Mason is going to fix it up so you can have a go,’ Jacob smiled.
Lani jumped around on the grass, excited.
She’d always been an adventurous little girl, totally fearless and confident.
Not long before our big lunch we decided to give Lani five minutes on the gasoline-powered go-kart.
Scooping her long hair up into a bun, I made sure all the straggly bits were tucked under her helmet.
After being taught how to use the kart, Lani set off down the road with Jacob hovering beside her.
After a few minutes I noticed that a small flyaway piece of hair had escaped the helmet, but I knew she’d be off it any minute anyway.
‘I’m just popping in to get a glass of water,’ I called to Mum.
But as I turned my back I heard the engine come to an abrupt stop… swiftly followed by a horrific scream.
The next few moments felt like slow motion.
I turned to see Lani, unconscious, surrounded by family.
Her hair was caught in the back motor, it had ripped her head backwards and torn the scalp off one side of her head - from her hairline to her neck.
My mum was holding her scalp onto her head but I could see a gaping hole, right into her brain.
My stepdad Jason was hacking away at her hair with a knife to try and untangle her from the motor while my aunt rang an ambulance.
Not wanting to wait, I cradled Lani in my arms, trying to keep her scalp in place, and jumped into the backseat of Mum’s car so she could drive us to hospital.
‘Come on, stay with Mummy,’ I begged Lani.
Once there, Lani was rushed for a CT scan and pumped full of antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection, before being flown to a bigger, specialist hospital.
‘She’s a fighter,’ Jacob kept reassuring me as we followed in a car, but I could tell he was as scared as I was.
Surgeons said it was lucky she was wearing a helmet.
‘She’d be dead if she hadn’t,’ one said.
After giving the gruesome wound a thorough clean, doctors explained that Lani, who was now conscious, was going to be taken into surgery the next morning.
‘You’ll have to prepare yourself for the worst,’ the surgeon told us solemnly beforehand.
After we’d kissed her goodbye a million times, Jacob and I slumped down into chairs and cried.
‘I feel so guilty,’ I sobbed.
‘No-one is to blame,’ he tried to console me.
After a five-hour op, we were told that a plastic surgeon had also been called in to totally reconstruct her skull on one side as it had been left shattered into pieces.
‘The top three layers of her brain have been lacerated from the accident - we just don’t know for sure at this stage if she’ll be able to talk or walk,’ the neurological surgeon explained.
When we went in to see her she was very scared, but within a few hours she began to sit up and move about a lot more.
She’d forgotten how to hold a pen, couldn’t speak as well and was back in nappies but over the next few days her progress led to her being hailed a miracle by the nurses.
Lani had physiotherapy very day to try and get movement back on her left side.
‘We’ve been so lucky,’ Jacob kept saying.
But there were tough times too.
One of the hardest moments was when she looked in the mirror for the first time after she began to find her speech again.
‘Mummy I’m ugly. Half my hair is off,’ she wept.
Grabbing my phone, I looked up pictures of the pop star Pink.
‘This is what rockstar’s hair looks like,’ I explained.
After a few minutes scouring the pictures, a huge beam spread across her bruised face.
‘So, I’ve got rockstar hair?’ she exclaimed proudly.
A few weeks later we were finally discharged and we’re working on getting back to normal life… as a family of four!
Lani dotes on her little sister Presley.
She is definitely more nervous than before and is easily scared by sudden loud noises.
Lani’s eye sight is also not quite what it was, plus her taste buds have changed meaning that there are now lots of foods that she won’t eat, like fruit and vegetables.
While Lani is not the same child, we are eternally thankful that we still get to tuck her into bed every night.