LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- In a recent photo, Kaden Spencer flashes a wide smile showing off his pearly whites as he recovers in his hospital bed at Norton Children's Hospital, but the picture does not tell the whole story. In another photo a little more than a week earlier, Kaden has several tubes and wires connected to his body as doctors worked to save him after he accidentally shot himself in his father's apartment on Oleanda Avenue.
"I guess the gun was under the mattress and I don't know - he got a hold of it," Nashae Hadder, Kaden's mother, said.
Hadder has been a familiar face at Norton Children's Hospital as her son continues to recover, but it was next door at Norton Hospital where Hadder, then 35 weeks pregnant and experiencing preterm labor, learned that her son had been shot - news no parent wants to hear.
"They tell you don't stress because you'll stress the baby out, and then I'm like, 'How can I not stress when my baby is in the hospital?'" she said.
Police said Kaden's father was driving his son to the hospital when he crashed into other cars at the corner of Hill and 4th Street. Emergency officials arrived on scene and rushed Kaden to the hospital.
"I'm trying not to be hateful towards his dad," Hadder said. "I'm just trying to cope with it and move on because it's not going to change anything."
Hadder now has a message to other parents, hoping to keep them from living the same nightmare that has become her reality.
"Put the guns up away from children. Just make sure it's on safety, it's put away and stuff. Under the mattress is not good for a toddler, like it's a toddler's size," she said. "You can see that gun."
State legislators are expected to discuss legislation aimed at preventing accidental shootings like Kaden's case. State Rep. Jim Wayne has pre-filed a bill that would make it illegal for anyone to leave a gun unsecured that could be used by a child, something Hadder said is a possibility in keeping children and other people safe.
"My son does not deserve this. He spent his third birthday in here," Hadder said. "I don't know, there is a lot going on."
Until he is released, Kaden's mother will continue visiting him, sending him messages of love and support while hoping her message of safety does not fall on deaf ears.