Caring for mom when her child has an emergency
In comparison to some serious tragedies that parents endure, our health scare over the weekend with our 5 year old was minor. But in our little world, it was major and I got rocked. Her lung tore and air got out around her heart and airway. She wasn’t able to breathe fully so her oxygen levels were way down. It’s uncommon but thankfully totally treatable.
I feel that this experience happened FOR me so I could grow my ability to feel empathy for other parents. So I’m going to share with you my experience and my recommendations. Everyone is different but hopefully you can take something away.
What happens to mom:
- I couldn’t think straight. I noticed that I was in fight/flight when my brain didn’t process words. All I heard was “get to her”, while my husband and I had to figure out childcare for my little one and car keys. I knew I was not processing what he was saying yet so I tried to remain calm and repeat what I heard.
- I was shaking but keeping it together. My survival brain kicked in and it was fascinating how instantly I knew to grab some water and protein snacks (in case the ER didn’t have food). I was shaking from adrenalin and fear but if you looked at my face I was calm as a pickle.
- I found time to cry after. Stuff moved so quick that I didn’t have time to freak out. But somewhere around 3 am between her breathing treatments I had a sleep deprived cry. It felt good. I was still processing my emotional trauma from seeing my kid suffer but also I was processing my own mom-guilt. Did I wait too long? Who knows, she was sleeping soundly but I wasn’t.
- Empathy for the medical staff helped easy my anxiety. After the ambulance ride (oh joy cross that off the bucket list) we were at the ER and time for the dreaded IV catheter placement. Thankfully I was a Product Manager for an IV catheter so had seen hundreds started on patients. I intellectually knew the techniques the wonderful medical staff were doing. I understood why the first stick failed and why they struggled with the valve-y kid. If I would not have had that exposure I’m sure I would have been frustrated with them. Instead I was grateful it was them and not me. That is a HARD job ya’all!
- Morphine is funny. Beware kids often don’t express when they are in pain. She was just not coughing to avoid the pain for hours and we didn’t know it. We didn’t realized this until her voice started to raise in pitch because the escaped air pockets were putting pressure on her airway. Like she was sucking on helium. So by the time they gave her morphine to ease the pain, we were all ready for some relief. Dude, she was slurring her words and signing God knows what. We said, “hey Aubrey, how are you doing?” She looked over her left and right and said in drunken sailor voice “you talking to me?” We needed that!
How to take care of mom when her child has an emergency:
These are my recommendations based on my experience so use your mom intuition and do what you feel is best for your friend and their situation. Also this is not a slam on the heaps of wonderful help and support our friends and family gave us while it was going on. I feel so blessed to have you all in our lives and you did help to make it better.
- Don’t take my non-response as a bad sign. I got so many loving text messages but I could not answer them all. Plus I didn’t know what was happening in the beginning so I didn’t want to answer. Facebook was a good way to share progress and hear the wonderfully supportive things.
- Food is good. Much like right after having a baby, a casserole is always welcome. We had been away for a day or so and we were low on food. So a wonderful friend did a quick drive-by for a few minutes with a nice meal and bonus bottle of wine!
- The same day is too soon. The hours in a hospital are the longest hours ever experienced. And when you finally get home late in the day you just want a shower and have a good sleep. It’s too soon to talk about it. It’s too fresh and I feel like I had to relive the story every time I told it…which was a lot of times.
- It isn’t over the next day. I was way more affected then my daughter and I took a day off to sleep, chill and get a massage. I felt proud of myself that I took time for some self-care.
- Don’t compare your story to mine. My story feels like the worst thing ever (in my world). When you ask to hear my story and then proceed to tell me about your kid’s horrific story, it doesn’t help. You are well intentioned but I don’t have enough in the emotional bank to know what to say. Some loving words of encouragement is all you need to give.
Thanks to this community for allowing me a platform to transform my challenge into a way that will serve more mamas.
What do you think of my recommendations? Leave a comment below and let me know.
P.S. She was completely healed and back to her sassy self 2 days later. We made the best of during our “hospital sleep over party” as she described it.