Wednesday, January 3

The Day We Side-Stepped a Tragedy

I never felt so small, so helpless or so failingly flawed as a mother as the day that we landed in the emergency room and made it past triage. When my youngest was just 14-months old she made her way into my room & nightstand and worked the top off of a 'childproof' bottle of Tylenol. She was out of our site for less than 2 minutes, but when I found her she was sitting in the midst of a pile of pills. Because she was in a stage of answering "YES!" to everything, there was no way of knowing if she had actually eaten any.

After immediately calling poison control, we learned the terrifying fact that just five Tylenol pills can kill a child with no warning symptoms. By the time the signs are there the liver can be irreparably damaged.

The absolute lowest moment? The social worker coming to have the 'chat' and talking about a possible visit to our home for a 'safety check.' It seemed as though someone was confirming that I was a horrible mom who shouldn't be trusted with children. I knew she was doing her job - a noble one at that - trying to protect children from real abuse. I knew all that - but my guilt for not watching my daughter closely enough, for allowing this to happen seemed to over ride any appreciation that I had for the social worker or the reality that accidents happen. I simply felt horrible – like the worst mother ever!

After four hours of holding my little girl while they took blood and she drank charcoal mixed with chocolate milk and hoping and praying that my little girl wouldn’t suffer long-term damage – we learned that no Tylenol was found in her blood stream. She hadn’t consumed anything. She was fine. I held her and quietly cried as she snuggled and slept on my chest. It took me a long time to feel like a competent mom again.

That was the day that I learned that having children was like carrying your heart and soul outside your body.

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