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Monday
Dec272010

Describe Your First Parenting Crisis

On my Navelgazing Midwife Facebook page, I asked “Describe your first parenting crisis/illness you with your 1st child. How did you respond?” The answers below, I hope, will be some comfort to new moms who, all too often, feel totally inept as parents. You aren’t alone!

DH: First real crisis was probably when we thought my youngest was choking on something. His face was red, he was spitting up and I instinctively - I guess - sat him on my lap and listened to see if he was breathing. We rode in the ambulance and it was horrible, but somehow I remained calm.

Oh wait, a month before that my oldest near-fainted and we had to call the ambulance. I was shaking like a leaf inside but surprisingly handled it well, but was very scared.

I guess we're lucky so far to not have many crises - until now! 

JWP: The first big thing was when we were on vacation at my grandparent's place (1/2 way across the US) with my mom and A got sick, he was four months old. We finally took him to the ER (small town, not many choices) the day before we were supposed to go home and he ended up being admitted and then transferred an hour away to a bigger hospital. He tested positive for RSV, had double ear infections, and viral meningitis. He spent 3 days in the PICU and then we got to go home and he was perfect. It was horrifying and my poor husband was at home not knowing what was going on, I felt so bad for him. We got to spend an extra week with my family though. 

JWD: Well, her first issue was being born nine weeks premature by emergency cesarean when I didn't even realize I was in labor, let alone fully dilated. I was in a state of shock, I didn't even know I was in labor and suddenly I'm having major surgery in my street clothes. I responded with complete love and awe, she was perfect and in my eyes I saw a healthy full term baby. (I suppose that means I responded with denial.)

I disagree! I think sometimes we have to react that way to keep us calm. 

SS: The first illness was at fourteen months. He had the stomach flu and vomited all over me. I took him to bed and just nursed him for hours while he recovered. He'd throw up, then nurse, then throw up, then nurse. He came out on the other side of the vomiting and diarrhea perfectly hydrated and well nourished despite three days of illness. Not so for me. I caught it from him day three and I was vomiting and had diarrhea for three days myself and came out feeling like a truck ran me over.

She continues... 

SS: The first crisis was when my then-husband dropped my son in the bathtub when he was less than a month old. He hit his head and went under the water. I was FURIOUS. I made him call the pediatrician to ask what we should watch for and ask if we should take him to the hospital. All the while I had him latched onto my breast between sobs. (At least once he stopped the purple-faced airless soundless scream.)

And continues... 

SS: My second son who is now five months old has not yet had a crisis. By this age my then-husband had dropped my older son in the bathtub and had let him fall off of the couch. 

APM: She fell from a hammock in a very distant beach in the south of Brazil and broke her front teeth, the damage was clearly bad. We had to drive for about two hours. I gave her Tylenol and sang “The Sound of Music” songs all the way to the hospital, and she was calm. No fun. It took years for a full repair but no trauma for her... only for mama. 

TC: First born choked on a coin at twelve months old. It just so happened that a friend was visiting fresh out of his EMT class (from) a few hours earlier and had just learned how to perform Heimlich on infants. He set straight to action as soon as we observed he was not breathing and it was fixed within moments of him taking him into his arms and thumping him very hard on the back. Whew. 

JG: Pneumonia at age two (?). Sudden fever of 106-107. Rushed her to the doctor who sent her for an immediate chest x-ray. 

MS: my daughter had a high fever and diarrhea at about 8 months old. Hubby begged off work that morning so he could be with us and take her to the doctor. His boss threatened to fire him if he took his daughter to the doc and missed work. Hubby said nothing to his boss but took us to the doctor anyway. It turned out to be a stomach bug and we were advised to give her Pedialyte and some Tylenol. It ran its course in a couple days and she got better. Meanwhile, my hubby quit and his boss got fired. 

JRBB: My daughter was a newborn and lost a lot of weight and became jaundiced at only a few days old. She struggled to regain her birth weight and we finally realized I was not making enough milk. The pediatricians weighed her every few days and life was constantly stressful. I ended up having to supplement with formula and weaned from breastfeeding at 6 months. 

MAH: My daughter walked across a floor furnace and burned her feet. I did what I always did in a crisis, called my mama. She came and sat with me and helped me treat her feet (thank goodness she didn't sit down) and provided moral support for me. My mama is gone now, but I sure wish I still had her here in a crisis. 

CB: Gosh there were so many things with our first but the tip off that things were going to be harder (this is retrospectively, at the time being a first time parent I was clueless) when he could only nurse with a nipple shield in use - and we nursed for 12 months that way, he grew so that was okay with me (nursing was successful and it made me throw out my inhibitions when it comes to nursing in public). All in all, he is a healthy and thriving kid but he has been the one who gets sick; two hospitalizations and numerous trips to the ER and Urgent Care. 

LF: The first crisis I actually remember was when my son (now sixteen) was about eighteen months and fell and smacked his forehead HARD on the brick hearth of the fireplace. I still feel sick imagining the sound it made, and then he cried for about ten seconds and fell asleep in my arms, and I could not wake him. STARK RAVING TERROR. We rushed him to the Ped's office (closer than the hospital) - I sat next to him in his carseat sobbing and begging him to wake up. No response. He woke up just as I laid him on the exam table at the doc's. He was fine- got a bit of a bruise but not even a goose egg. Still have no idea why he fell asleep like that when he was pretty much uninjured, but I will never forget how scared I was. 

NgM: My muscles are tight reading these stories! You poor moms! 

Tristan, my first kidlet, was about 6 weeks old... maybe 8... and he was screaming, would not stop. Now I know it was a pain cry, but I had no idea how to translate his cries back then. He cried for at least an hour and a half before I called my mom, hysterical, and begged her to come over. The second she took Tristan out of my arms, he quit crying... and that brought me to near hysteria that he hated me. My mom told me to quit that and call the doctor, that he had a fever. A fever? I didn't even know my kid had a fever? What a horrible mother I was!

 We went to the doctor and he had a double ear infection (the first of many, many ear infections) and once he was on antibiotics for twelve hours, was much better. (This is the olden days, before I knew about garlic olive oil and not to do antibiotics with ear infections.) 

I could go on and on with Tristan tragedies; I thank him all the time for letting me learn on him. 

- crashing his head into a concrete doorway as we were racing down a hallway

- burning him with the car seat buckle... in the summer, in Florida

- barely snatching him from a backing up car smashing him

- his being so sick they thought he had Cystic Fibrosis and we went for nine months not knowing what he was dying of... turned out to have a protein allergy and the only thing that saved him was breastmilk, donated from LLL friends until Meggie was born... then she shared. 

There were times I felt so inept as a mom. 

CB: We were home from the birth center for about five hours when my son started to cry uncontrollably. Two hours into it we took him back to the hospital, but to the ER instead. He was really dehydrated and starving. They tried putting an IV into his three day old veins and then started taking blood for his jaundice, but we didn't feel right about the doctor’s decision. Going on instincts alone, we made a stop to all the procedures. We asked for another Doctor and a lactation consultant. They were our saving grace! 

EC: K tripped at the playground and went face first into a metal step when he was seventeen months old and severed his frenulum and cut the inside of his lip badly. The trip to the ER and the resulting wait was awful. Not being able to fix it is the worst feeling as a new mother! 

CB: Well, at least you didn't dislocate his shoulder stopping him from running in front of logging trucks outside the laundry mat (which is when my mom bought a washer and dryer, it was one of my older brothers)! Seems like older kids get to deal with our ignorance besides what else they may come with. 

KM: I think mine was when Orion, was about 3 months old. He had a horrible fever. I'd taken him to the Pedi, and was told to alternate Motrin and Tylenol. At 19, I had no idea about anything, so I did it. His fever never went down.

I panicked, called my mom because hubby was at work and she came, picked us up and took us to her house. She gave him a cool bath, mixed in with a little bit of alcohol and that lowered his fever a bit while I called Hubby and struggled to get a hold of him. I finally did (he worked at the hospital in Patient Transport, so he was always on runs driving the ambulance all over Texas.) I told him what was going on and he came to my parents house.

By the time he got there, Orion's fever was back up and it wasn't time for Motrin or Tylenol yet. Hubby and I decided to take him to the ER.

Once there, the doc told us that there was nothing they could do for a 3 month old with a fever. All he did was mix some Sprite and Gatorade together and give it to my baby with a syringe. Orion was booby fed, so drinking from a syringe was hard for him, but we went home. We gave him the Sprite/Gatorade mix about every 15 minutes and then waited. He finally broke the fever and was better a few days later.

My little boy always has super high fevers, even now that he's 4.5 years old.  I also have the story of when he had undiagnosed infant GERD, but I'll leave that for later.

Sprite and Gatorade?! Ick! Now we know breastmilk is the absolute best thing for illness in a sick baby. And NO ALCOHOL BATHS! The alcohol is absorbed into the body that way and can really, really make someone very ill. Had to have been very scary!

SSM: C was about two weeks old. It was the week before Christmas and I decided he needed his finger nails cut because he kept scratching and hurting himself with them. I cut off the teeniest tip of his finger. Called my Mom (and my 76 year old Grandmother also a nurse and raised 5 kids) who lives a block away and is a nurse (pediatric at that time). She came over calmed me and Connor down. Put a bandaid on his finger and a baby sock over his hand. Life went on, but I was convinced I had scarred him for life.

It wasn't until I had my second kid that I learned the fingernails are actually attached to the end of the baby's fingers when they're born! I had no idea! So, cutting the nails of a new baby = BAD. Filing them with the light side of an emory board = Good.

C: My first real crisis was when my first was about 2 1/2. Before that, she had fallen off the bed, bumped her head, fell down, etc, but this is the single most frightening thing that happened.

I was visiting my father and put her down in front of the tv to watch Sesame Street while I gave her baby brother a bath. When I got the baby out the bath, I went to look for her, and she was gone. Called her name, no answer, ran through the house looking for her, she was no where in site. With the still naked baby in my arms, went running to the back yard and to the pool. The hardest steps I have ever taken, but thank the goddesses she wasn't in the pool, but still missing.

Back in the house, screaming her name. No answer. To the neighbors, not there. Neighbors now calling all the other neighbors while I am freaking out and running up and down the street with a naked 6 month old. My father gets called, comes  home from work, calls the police.

By now, there's a regular kid-hunt going on, police arrive, neighbor lady takes the baby to dress him, goes to the living room where I left his clothes, sits on the couch, and sits on my daughter.

While I was bathing the baby, she somehow nestled herself behind the cushions on the couch and fell alseep. She was so well hidden that no one saw her until the neighbor sat on her.

I responded by freaking out. Completely. Utterly. The things that were going through my mind those two hours were terrifying.

MM: I think the really only horribly scary situation that I've had was my son falling into the dishwasher and coming out of it with a fondue fork stabbed into his arm. He screamed at it furiously and jerked it out of his arm with a mighty roar. That was it. He was fine despite a little bit of blood.

We've dealt with RSV. Thankfully we caught it early enough and my two-week old did NOT have any infections that we had to deal with. My older son did get an ear infection, a little medication and he got better. But spending the night with my youngest in the hospital was nerve wrecking! 

S: Easy for me, the first absolute panic crisis was when my eight-month old and two-year old both got Rotavirus at the same time. I was pretty sure they were going to die after a week of literally NO food and only occasional sips of Pedialyte or breast-milk, so exhausted that when they threw up in their sleep (four or five times a night, each) they didn't wake at all, just vomited and heaved all over them selves. It was terrifying, rushing between bedrooms and making sure kids were sleeping on their sides so that they didn't aspirate in their sleep, changing out towels covered in vomit and diarrhea every few hours. It lasted three weeks in all, and I will always blame myself for not insisting the peds office see them earlier. They kept blowing me off and treating my like an irrational hysterical person over the phone. It was when my son went down a diaper size that I finally brought them in despite the peds saying not to. He got an IV fluids and they both got RX for anti nausea suppositories. He went from the 98th percentile for weight to the 40th. She went from the 60th percentile to the 42nd. We changed peds offices soon after. 

That is such a horrifying story. Thank God your babies lived through that. And I totally understand the memory of fear.

K: Our first crisis was within an hour of our eldest's birth. My husband was calling everyone we've ever met to tell them J had been born, but had trouble getting through to his parents. Left a message on FIL's mobile. His Mum called back shortly after, FIL had suffered a massive heart attack within minutes of J's birth and had passed away.

Not a crisis with the baby, but to this day i can hear my husband's voice, the pain and confusion. At 10 days old we attended my FIL's funeral. I was near delusional with sleep deprivation, my nipples were shredded, it was a horrific time. We got through it though, our now 7yo was an easy going baby thank goodness and really we just tried to focus on the miracle of him. I still grieve not only my FIL but the loss of what should have been such a joyous time.

A few weeks later my grandfather died (not unexpectedly) and I flew interstate to farewell him with my family. On returning home our baby became very floppy and lethargic. I took him to the doctors who sent us straight to hospital for testing for meningitis. After all we'd been through watching our tiny baby have a lumbar puncture was just horrific. Luckily it wasn't meningitis though and he was admitted and put on IV ABx for a couple of days and made a complete recovery.

The upside of having dealt with so many stresses so early on is that it takes a lot to upset me now! Our fourth child is 7wo and the most calm and happy little babe imaginable. We're treasuring every minute with all our children with full knowledge of how quickly the world can change.

D: It was my firstborn, and I felt terrible.  We had adopted a cocker spaniel about two years before and that dog was my protector.  He slept with me when my husband worked nights, often sleeping on my belly on the couch.  We also had adopted a hyper little terrier.  My cocker spaniel Duke would often attack the terrier because he attacked other people and me.  He bit me after the baby came home one day, and so my husband regrettably took him back to the pound.  We were told the previous owner had chained him to a leg post of a table during the day and her grandchildren tormented the dog, and so that it was just something we could do nothing about.  We worried he'd go after the baby when he crawled. 

At 9 months old our baby began to stand and cruise, walking by 10 months.  He still crawled sometimes.  A few times our dog gave us a warning, growling at the baby after he stood up.  One day I was playing with the baby in the living room, and he crawled around to the side of the couch.  I didn't see our dog back there, he was with his favorite toy.  All of a sudden I heard a growl and a cry.  I  was only a few feet away, but didn't see it.  When I came around the corner, the dog was no where to be seen, and my baby had bite marks under his eye and on his cheek in a few places.  I panicked a bit, I was a bit of a hermit and used to get lost easily.  I called my husband, and then knocked on my cousin's door...she lived in the same apartment complex.  I drove and she comforted the baby.  He was pretty calm actually, we had a cold, clean wash cloth on his face. 

We went to the emergency room, my husband came along soon.  They gave my son some kind of medication that made him tired.  They wrapped him in a full body thing with velcro that held him still.  We were lucky in that the on call doc for such things was a plastic surgeon.  She stitched up his face, the gash under his eye was millimeters from his actual eye ball.  He received 13 stitches on his cute little face, and it was a strange and terrible experience. 

I felt so horrible that my beautiful baby had been attacked, and worried greatly for him.  He did get an infection in one of the wounds, but for the most part, it healed well.  I put vitamin E on it religiously and rubbed it daily to work on the scar.  It healed and after a while no one knew where the scar was but me (except for the one little part that had been infected, my son still picks at it in his sleep). 

I recall my boy as a social being, always saying "hi" to people and talking early.  Before the bite, people would tell me how cute he was.  After ward I recall the feeling when little children would point and whisper to their mommas and they would say something to their kids and walk away, not telling me how cute my son was or even talking to him.  I also got a lot of judgemental questions.  Every time I did tell someone that the dog bit him they would ask if we "put it down."  We did not, we gave the dog to my husband's parents and they just kept him from our children for a while.  The dog never bit again, and loved it when our kids came.  He loved their attention.  I do know he did have cataracts in his eyes, and wonder if he mistook the boy for another dog or saw him as a threat at that time and in that day only. 

It was very sad that it happened, but I am very cautious with dogs and children now.  We now have a dog who has welcomed 4 children and he's never bit a child.  I still am careful.

Wow, Dawn. Scary! And you are right to watch all animals around kids; cats scratch and bite, too.

You speak about a couple of things worth mentioning.

- The medication they gave to make him go to sleep was probably a narcotic; pain relief and sedative in one... that makes it easier to do the repair without the baby/child/adult going bonkers at the same time. Especially since he had the gash near his eye! I know I would have a hard time watching a needle and thread going right next to my eyeball, I can imagine how scary it would be for a baby.

- The thing they strapped him down is called a Papoose Board.

- Regarding dog bites... Aimee was, what... eight? and walking in the neighborhood. A dog she'd always been friends with charged her and bit her leg open, it needing many stitches to close the 5-inch gash and even a couple of more bite marks. The dog had just had babies and somehow felt threatened. Even the dogs that are the most docile are still dogs. We all have our threshold for tolerance.

- Isn't it amazing how personally we take what people think and say about our kids? I know you know this now, but moms always feel responsible for their children's accidents or illnesses. Always. I've known moms who've been investigated by CPS for childhood accidents; imagine that sort of guilt! All we can is our best, but in life, accidents happen.

- Here's a short list of the worst childhood accidents I've been around (moms I know):

* skull fracture after 10-month old fell off counter

* poisoning that put the baby in ICU for a week

* drowning (baby died) of 3-year old... at a backyard party with 50 people standing right there around the pool (which had a black bottom)

Of course, the very worst are going to result in a baby that dies or is forever affected, so, blessedly, so far, none of these we've shared have been that sad. I know I'm counting my blessings, right this minute.

Tristan, hurt again. (Poor dear!)