Scarlett’s Accident

(This is a backlog post. It should have gone up June 3.)

There comes a time in every child’s life when they experience something that can make a mother’s heart stop.

With Logan, it was his premature birth and 10 day hospitalization. With Lila it was the time she drank turpentine at 2 years, 1 month old. Scarlett had yet to do something to freak me out severely (other than running off in a bookstore and hiding when she was 18 months old), but that changed last week.

I will have to begin with some background.

It was Monday, a rather stressful day for me because it is grocery shopping day. I used to shop alone with Scarlett while the other two were at school, but now with the arrival of summer holidays, I have no choice but to shop with all three kids.

Logan was already fussing when we got to the mall because we were only doing grocery shopping, and he wanted to go to the arcade and toy shop. He has no patience for shopping so he was running around, touching everything – every display, every shelf, every food item. He broke candy bars, crushed bags of chips and grabbed everything he could. Normally he is fairly obedient and can manage a trip to the store without too much wildness, but this day his hyperactive nature had taken over and it was all I could do to not yell at him right there. (He has ADHD.)

He continued to be wild during lunch and rest time, and on into the afternoon. He was mean to the girls and kept making them cry. Any sort of punishment didn’t faze him at all.

I finally decided to take the kids to the playground near our house, hoping that some outdoor play could burn some of his energy and tire him out. Yet he continued to be wild. Several times I had to pull him aside from his play as he was biting and pinching the other children. He even bit his own lip when he fell as he was racing up the slide.

The whole time I was keeping half an eye on the girls as they climbed the jungle gym. They are both quite good at it, so, while I stay near them, I don’t have to be right there. At one point I had to go to Logan again, and I didn’t see Scarlett follow me, nor did I see her climb the straight metal slide (not the ladder but the slide) until she was at the top.

She learned to climb the slide some time ago (barefoot), but I’m always next to her as there are no safety rails and she hasn’t yet figured out how to turn from her climb to sitting without putting her butt over the side. I’m sure you can guess what happened next.

It was almost like seeing something in slow motion. I saw her at the top of the slide. I saw her begin to turn, and then I knew she was going to fall. I was too far away to get there in time to catch her. I left Logan and forgot his naughtiness as I ran to my baby.

The slide was about 6 feet at the highest point and she fell from the top, landing in the sand flat on her chest and tummy, hitting her lips hard on one side. Horror stories that I had heard of kids dying from falling off a slide filled my mind, and I struggled to push them away so I could focus on Scarlett. At first she cried while I carried her to a bench and tried to clean the sand off her face, but then she was quiet, scarily quiet. She just sat on my lap and looked at everything. I kept asking her questions but she wouldn’t answer. I managed to round up Logan and Lila, and we rushed home. All I could think of was getting her home, putting ice on her ever-swelling lips, and helping her recover from the shock she was in.

She wouldn’t let me put ice on her lip, nor did she want me to get the sand out of her mouth, both of which made her cry. I was afraid she had some internal injury since she was so quiet. I called Glad, who was working on the other side of town, and told him what had happened.

He asked some questions and then reassured me that she was probably fine but to keep an eye on her.  I held her close and told her how sorry I was that I hadn’t been close enough to catch her. I couldn’t do anything but rock her. After about 30 minutes (from the time she fell) she began to move around. I put a video on for her and then went to my room to cry. The guilt I felt was massive. How had I not noticed her following me? Why wasn’t I paying more attention? Why hadn’t I been right there to catch her? It was awful.

Finally I realized I had some hungry kids on my hands so I forced myself to get up and cook dinner, even though I wasn’t very hungry and could hardly stand to look at food. Surprisingly, Scarlett ate a good dinner! I thought she might just have some yogurt because she could hardly open her mouth, but she figured a way to slip the food in on the side that wasn’t sore. (Fried chicken liver, French fries, and cucumber slices.)

Afterwards she was perky and climbing around, even jumping! She was fine as I showered everyone and got them ready for bed. I let her lie in my bed and she went to sleep quickly.

Glad kept checking in every hour, and he was sure she didn’t have any internal injury, since she was breathing well, had eaten and didn’t throw up, nor was she complaining of any pains other than her massively swollen lip and a sore chest. I, however, was still freaking out inside.

I kept her in bed with me all night. At one point she scared me by waking up and just sitting there and staring straight ahead. After what seemed like forever, she told me she wanted water and to get up, but it was only about 4 in the morning so I convinced her to go back to sleep.

In the morning her lip looked scary. The top one on the right side was big and puffy, the bottom about half the size. Above, below, and on her lips were all the tiny scratches that had scabbed overnight. Scarlett herself was perky as ever, ate a good breakfast, had a normal bowel movement, and showed every sign of being ok internally. But just to be safe, Glad took her to the hospital for a checkup.

I didn’t feel relief until they got home. The doctor had confirmed that she had no internal injury, and her lip was going to be just fine. The swelling went down rapidly over the next two days, so fast, in fact, that we could see a difference from one hour to the next. Now, exactly one week later, all the scabs are gone and there is no evidence that she had such a bad fall.

Since that day I’ve made sure to stay right next to her at the park whenever she is climbing. She is daring, like Lila, and will climb on most anything, so I can’t let her out of my sight. She may be a good climber, but she is still a toddler and doesn’t have as good balance as Lila does.

I shudder every time I think back on that moment when she fell. I’m thankful she fell from the 6’ slide and not the higher spiral one that she so loves. I’m thankful I wasn’t far when she fell, so I could pick her up right away. I’m thankful she wasn’t seriously injured. And I’m most thankful she is still here.

What has your child done to freak you out?

Better Safe Than Sorry

Safety is a topic that has been on my mind a lot lately. Ever since Lila (current age 2 years, 1 1/2 months old) drank turpentine thinking it was water, I’ve been keeping my eyes open for more potential hazards.

Every house has them, yet as adults we know they are dangerous and avoid them. We rarely, if ever, think about these things as dangerous, and many times it is not until our child gets hurt that we become aware of them again.

A child will taste something out of curiosity; they don’t know it is not edible so they put it in their mouth. This is something a baby or toddler has to do to learn about the world around them. Their taste buds are more sensitive than the nerves in their fingertips, so they learn about an object faster through tasting it. The only problem is, they can’t yet taste the difference between something that is edible and something that is not.

Start by keeping all poisonous items out of reach. If you use it to clean the house, your car, your laundry, or to kill pests, it is poisonous. The degree of danger varies with each item – some will only cause stomach upset, allergic reaction or vomiting – others can be fatal. These kinds of products are generally labeled as dangerous and will often tell you what to do if swallowed, but don’t count on it. If you have a poison control center in your area, then keep the number next to your phone (or in your mobile, labeled as such) so that you can call for help quickly if need be. The best thing you can do, though, is to keep these items out of your child’s reach at all times.

Look for other hazards in your house and do what you can to fix or remove them. Sometimes it can help to crawl around the house yourself so you can see things from your child’s eye view. If they grab that ledge to stand up, is it safe? Will they hit their head or eye on it while standing up? Is it loose? Could it fall off? Ask yourself these kinds of questions as you go from room to room and make a list of what you need to either fix, cover, hide or remove to ensure your child’s safety.

You should always know where you baby is playing at all times. With a toddler or fast crawler this can be harder, but is so important. See Random Safety Tips for a list of other things to be aware of with small children.

Lila Gives Me a Scare

Lila gave me a real scare this afternoon by drinking turpentine.

This morning someone came by to drop off a box with paint and supplies as we are going to paint the house soon. I had it placed in the guest bedroom (which is also where the balcony is; the kids go in the room all the time) and left it there as it didn’t fit under the bed. I didn’t check the box closely and never noticed the bottle of turpentine sitting there. I don’t know if it was open or closed, though it must have been closed or else I would have smelled it.

Around 3:30 p.m., Logan and Lila were running around playing. They had skipped their nap and were rather wild. Scarlett was fussy, only wanting me to hold her and not letting me put her down. Logan and Lila were playing on the balcony and running in and out of the house.

Next thing I know, Lila dropped something and was coughing. I smelled it and immediately got scared, not knowing what I should do, only that I had to do something fast. I picked her up and tried to wash her mouth out, then I thought maybe she should throw up. I didn’t know how much she had swallowed. I’m guessing a mouthful. She was coughing and spitting, and I was almost frantic until I saw how scared Logan was. He was crying and freaking out like he does when he sees someone else freak out. Somehow it affects him. It didn’t help that Scarlett was screaming for me either.

Then I remembered our neighbors downstairs. Both our landlord and his son are paediatricians, so I grabbed Lila and the bottle, told Logan to watch Scarlett, and ran downstairs to see who was home. Our landlord was out so I ran to his son’s place hoping he was home. Thank God he was. His wife immediately sent her daughter, who sometimes plays with my kids, up to our place as both Logan and Scarlett were crying. The main thing he said was that she shouldn’t throw up to avoid getting it into her lungs, then to give her milk. I have heard of that before; it seems to help neutralize the poison. He said if I took her to a hospital they would do an x-ray to make sure her lungs were clear, then tell me to watch her, make sure she was breathing ok, etc.

He wasn’t freaked out about it, which helped me calm down. So I took her upstairs to try to get some milk into her, since she wouldn’t drink what his wife gave her. On top of it I had to try to calm Logan and Scarlett as well. I sat Lila in front of the t.v. and she had a few sips of milk while I distracted Scarlett. Soon she got into the cartoon and I was able to put Scarlett to sleep; then Lila got tired and took a nap on the couch. I was finally able to turn to Logan and give him some attention to help calm him down.

After her nap, Lila was fussy but seemed to be ok, until she threw up during dinner. She hadn’t wanted to eat so was on my lap when it happened. Logan again freaked out, probably more due to his own tiredness, so I put him in his room to cut some of the noise since all 3 of them were crying again. He eventually fell asleep. After a quick bath, both girls fell asleep on my lap in the space of 5 minutes, Scarlett nursing and Lila cuddling. Peace and quiet ensued, and it was only 9 p.m. This is unheard of in our house.

It is now 10 p.m., all the kids are still sleeping, and I finally have a chance to reflect on the events of this afternoon. I really should have checked the box. Lila gets into EVERYTHING these days and is accustomed to helping herself to water from the bottles in the fridge. So she assumed it was water and drank it. Good thing I was right there when it happened so I could help her right away instead of trying to guess what had happened.

I have now closed the box and put something heavy on it to at least hinder her from getting into it until we can find a safer place to put it. Ahhh, the things children do to keep us on our toes and test our nerves!

Random Safety Tips

Safety – it is so important with children, yet is so easy to take for granted. I know I do it sometimes. Even though I know something, I will ignore it, thinking the worst will never happen. As mommies, we can never be too careful with our children. This doesn’t mean we should freak out at the slightest thing, but we should always be on the lookout for dangers in order to protect those in our care.

Yesterday I was playing with the children on the roof. Scarlett had been in the walker for a while but got fussy, so I picked her up and was following the other two around as they ran from one side to the other. While standing by the edge looking over, out of habit I made sure to hold the baby away from the edge and that got me thinking: how many things do I do that are good safety rules to remember that others may not be aware of?

So here is a list of safety tips, in no particular order.

– Always check when closing a door that your child doesn’t have her fingers there. Often children will stick their fingers where the hinges are and get them jammed there.

– When on a balcony, roof, or any place that is above the ground, never hold your baby near or over the edge. It is too easy for a child to wiggle and be dropped.

– If you have a balcony where your child plays (or even if they don’t) make sure the rails are not wide enough for them to get their head through. Our balcony has gaps large enough for my kids to just slip through, so when we moved here, we had the whole thing covered with a plastic-coated wire mesh, so that they can still look down but can’t fall.

– Put the crib down to its lowest level as soon as your baby can pull up into a standing position, otherwise they could fall out of the crib.

– Don’t let a child play around your feet when cooking. They could trip you and you could drop a pot or hot food on them. A baby could watch from their highchair, or a toddler could sit at the table if they must be near you. Otherwise, it is safest for them to not be in the kitchen, especially near the stove, while you are cooking.

– If your baby is big enough to stand up in her highchair, make sure to strap her in. Otherwise she could stand up and fall.

– Only buy safe toys for your baby. A safe toy is one that does not come apart into small pieces that could easily be swallowed, can be tasted without paint coming off, doesn’t have any sharp edges. Fisher Price makes safe baby toys that don’t break. Logan has had some trucks since he was tiny that have been dropped, banged, thrown, sat on and stepped on, but have never even cracked.

If you have an older child who has smaller toys (i.e. Lego, doll accessories , make sure they put them out of the baby’s reach when they are done playing, or play with them somewhere the baby can’t get to – a bed, table, etc.

– Watch out for anything with a string attached, skipping ropes, belts, plastic bags, balloons, cleaning supplies, medicines, vitamins, matches. All these items can be dangerous or fatal!

– Since a baby puts EVERYTHING in their mouth, check your floors daily. Don’t assume they won’t try it. Choking is something that can happen when you least expect it, so be aware and on guard at all times. If it fits in their mouth, they will try it. Watch out for coins, nuts, hard candies, seeds, small toys, etc.

When you are out, watch what other people give them. Some people don’t know that hard candy can be dangerous for children (I have a hard time with it myself since it can’t be chewed) and they give it to them, thinking they will make the child happy. My kids know that if someone gives it to them, they should give it to me right away. And if your toddler really wants it, exchange it for something safer, like a piece of chocolate or a soft candy. (Or else just don’t give your child candy and they won’t know the difference. Logan never knew what it was, so he always gave it to me.)

– Staircases can be fun to climb but so dangerous to fall on. Have a safety gate in place to keep adventurous crawlers and climbers off of them, but do also teach them how to go up and down safely. The earlier you teach this, the better. You can teach your baby how to crawl down feet first, and when they start walking, how to hold the rail to go up and down.

– Watch out for edges of furniture and corners. If they fall on it, they could seriously injure themselves. You can put foam padding on corners, and store anything that could break (like that lovely glass coffee table) until they are older. Also, teach your child to look when standing up, especially if they like to play under the table, so they learn to not hit their heads all the time.

– Once your child is able to open doors on her own (usually around two years) you may find it necessary to lock doors you don’t want your curious toddler opening. You can put a lock on the outside of any door, high enough that they can’t get it. Be aware that if you often climb on chairs to reach things, they will try the same, so put the lock well out of reach. And don’t just lock rooms that could be dangerous. Put it on any door (including closets) that you don’t want them to open. For low cupboards you may need locks that need a key to open, or special child-proof locks.

I’ve heard of people who had older children (3-5 years) who would open the front door at night and get out. If your child tries this, you will need a high lock on all house exits, something that they can’t open.

– If you can’t lock things up, then put any item you don’t want them to touch out of reach. It will save you from having to say no 1,000 times a day.

– Sharp items (knives, scissors, nail files, etc.) should always be kept out of reach.

– Teach your child road safety early. You don’t have to wait until they go to school; start when they learn how to walk by holding their hands when crossing the street, etc.

Walkers – Use and Safety Tips

Scarlett started using the walker about 10 days ago. She still doesn’t go anywhere in it except backwards at times. I know though that it won’t be long until she will be racing around the house in it. In case you’re wondering, it’s normal for a baby to go backwards first and then learn to go forwards. They seem to also do this when learning to crawl.
People have asked me if I think a walker really teaches a baby to walk or if it is just another useless piece of baby equipment that shops try to convince you that you need. Why get it if they will learn to walk anyway, right? I don’t think a walker teaches walking at all, but it does give you a place to put the baby where they can sit upright and move about on their own.
Babies need to explore, to move about, and they get frustrated and fussy if they are confined. To give you an example: Logan started using the walker early, at nearly 6 months old. He could barely touch the floor at the lowest setting, but as soon as he learned to move it on his own, he was off. He loved being able to move about on his own and follow me from room to room. He used to do this cute hop with both feet and got to where he could move the walker at lightening speed.

Logan didn’t crawl until he was 11 months old. During those months, he was happier in the walker than on the floor. He would get frustrated if he couldn’t move around and would fuss a lot. Of course I did put him down at times so he could learn to crawl, and he eventually did figure it out. I still used the walker for him until his first birthday; then he preferred crawling, and learning to stand so he didn’t need the walker any more.
For him, the walker made a difference. It kept him happy and gave him greater freedom of movement. I say walkers are useful; just don’t expect them to actually teach your baby to walk.

Some tips on walker safety:

– Never use them at the top of a staircase unless you have a safety gate in place, one that will be impossible for your baby to learn to open on his own. Make sure the gate swings toward you instead of down the stairs for extra safety. Even then, know where baby is at all times, just in case someone else was to leave the gate open.

– Make sure that if low cupboards are in the baby’s reach, they can’t be opened by little fingers, otherwise baby will open them out of curiosity and ram the walker into them, squishing his fingers. The same would apply to any room door when baby is in that room. You can always prop doors open, or else close them to keep baby out.

– If your walker doesn’t have an activity tray, you can tie some toys to it. Just make sure you use a strong piece of string, something that will be ok for baby to chew on (such as a tie from a pair of track pants), slip the toys on, and tie securely on the other side. Make sure the string is taut and that baby won’t be able to get it over his head; also make sure it is tied securly so that it won’t come undone.

– Make sure the walker is locked in position when you change the height level, otherwise it could collapse, injuring your baby.

– Your baby will be able to reach things they couldn’t before. Watch out for tablecloths (can be pulled down), electrical plugs (use large pieces of furniture to make inaccessable, or cover with special plastic inserts), and any furniture or ledges that would be at baby’s head level. Move up anything that you have on low tables that could be broken or that would be dangerous for baby to play with.

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