CONTRIBUTED // when you find yourself at the hospital with your kids
I'm writing this as I sit in the hospital with my six-month-old son. We've been here for two days and they've told us we'll be here for a few more. What started as a tiny blister on his finger two weeks ago is now a staph infection that's gotten into his blood, requiring him to receive antibiotics through an IV.
I feel like a horrible mother. How could I have let this happen to him? I've been told by two doctors that there is no way to know exactly when, where or how this happened and to not blame myself, but mom guilt thrives in a situation like this.
My husband is sleeping on a chair that converts to a bed, but this is not new to him as he slept on something similar when both our kids were born. I’m fortunate enough to have the hospital bed and our son is in a crib that looks more like a baby jail cell than a crib.
I wish I could say this was our first time going through a medical issue with one of our kids but unfortunately it is not. Our daughter had taken three trips to the hospital by ambulance before her second birthday, each time after having a febrile seizure.
Doctors will tell you that febrile seizures are no big deal and you should only worry if it lasts more than five minutes, but try remaining calm when you see your child's eyes roll back in their head while their body stiffens up and they start convulsing. I think it's physically impossible to remain calm under those circumstances.
In less than three years since becoming parents, we've gone to the hospital approximately two dozen times and have spoken to at least a dozen different pediatricians. We joke that we used to go on vacations but since we had kids, the only trips we take are to the hospital.
Since we've spent so much time dealing with various medical issues and medical professionals, I wanted to share a few things that I would recommend if you find yourself in a similar situation:
- Follow your gut. If you think something needs attention, act on it. If it turns out to be nothing, you will at least gain some peace of mind. And more importantly, if it does turn out to be something then you'll be happy you acted on it when you did.
- Ask as many questions as you need to in order to fully understand what you're dealing with. Most doctors and nurses will be patient with you. You may end up with the occasional person who seems to be annoyed of all your questions but don't let that stop you from asking more questions. You need to learn as much as you can no matter who you may annoy in the process.
- If you need to cry, cry. Seeing your child go through a difficult medical situation can do a number on you emotionally, and you shouldn't try to keep it all in. I've received some incredible support from doctors and nurses after I've had a good, awkward cry in front of them. It can be the thing that makes a seemingly cold doctor or nurse a little more compassionate.
- Ask for advice. Other parents can be a wealth of information, so ask around or search online to see if you can find others who have experience with what you're dealing with. Also, don't be afraid to ask a doctor or nurse what they would do if it were their child.
- Ask for help. From doctors and nurses to family and friends, if you need help with anything just ask someone. You need to eliminate as much stress as possible and I've found that, as uncomfortable as it might be to ask, people are usually happy to help.
I hope you never find yourself in a tough medical situation with your child, but if you do, I hope some of this advice might help get you through it. And remember – these things too shall pass.
Melissa Hopper lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and two young children. She is the office manager at a publishing company and, formerly a newspaper columnist, but has recently found her passion for writing again after a 10 year hiatus. Melissa is the often snarky voice behind the Instagram account @MommyWifeyWino. She enjoys travelling, being sarcastic and having a good glass of red wine. In addition to writing for adults, Melissa also writes picture books for children.