Today, my 16-month-old daughter experienced her first bump on the noggin (see last post)
I am NOT a nurse, but I called a local health-line to find out if I should be seriously concerned about Celia, and this is the list of questions they asked me, and things they gave me to watch for (in brackets are the 'good' answers):
- Pupils - are they the same size as each other? (yes)
- Is there swelling, and is the swelling 'soft like a marshmallow' or 'firm like a grape'? (firm, like a grape)
- Does she have any bruising around her eyes, or behind her ears? (no)
- Is there any kind of fluid coming out of her nose or ears? (no)
- When she walks, does she wobble as though she's dizzy? (no)
- Hold your finger, or another object, about a foot in front of her face and ask her to reach out and grab it. Does she seem to have trouble following this command? (no)
- Is she speaking clearly, or as clearly as she normally does? (yes)
- Is she able to use all of her limbs completely and normally? (yes)
- Is she crying or fussing endlessly, and seemingly inconsolable? (no)
- Does she confused in any way, not knowing where she is, or who you are? (no)
- Does she seem afraid of you? (no)
I don't know what the opposite answers to any of these questions mean, but the nurse told me that if anything changed in the 6 hours following the injury, to call again or to take Celia in to the hospital. In her case, there was no blood (they did ask me this), and I assume there would be a number of extra questions that would go along with a bleeding injury.
For the 6 hours, I was supposed to check her at least every 30 minutes (if she went for a nap, to only allow her to sleep 30 minutes at a time), and then to check her every 3-4 hours after that for about a day.
The nurse told me to watch for signs of confusion after waking from a nap - a 'deer in headlights' look, indicating confusion or uncertainty about who you are or where she is.
It's nice to have 24-hour numbers to call for things like this...
Please read my blog post from a day or two ago about child safety, and toddler helmets... obviously God has a sense of humour.
Not 48 hours after having that opinionated rant-fest, this happens...
Actually, I don't exactly know what happened, but I was sitting at my desk in the living room and my daughter was on the couch, looking out the window, which is one of her favourite activities. If you're thinking I'm completely irresponsible for leaving her alone on the couch - maybe I am - in my defense, she knows how to get off the couch safety. I have hovered over her many times and I have NEVER had to step in and actually stop her from falling - she has never before fallen.
Then I hear this insanely loud BANG!
I look over to see my daughter lying in a heap between the couch and the coffee table (not a big enough space for her to comfortable fit in the way she was oriented), and I realize what has happened, just as she begins to wail.
She has thwacked her head against the coffee table. My memory replays the BANG, and thinks surely that could NOT have been my daughter's head...
I picked her up gently and held her while she cried, watching her for signs of a concussion or something worse. She cried normally, like she always does when she hurts herself. She was wearing a bunnyhug (sorry, 'hoodie', we call them 'bunnyhug's in Saskatchewan...), so her head was all surrounded in her hood and I couldn't see most of her head. I had this terrifying image of peeling back the hood to reveal a head full of blood, but there was nothing.
Gently, I brushed the hair around on her head, trying to find out where she'd hit, and then I find it - a deep, dark purple stripe about 2 inches long above her right ear. No blood, but it looked really deep. Also, I was terrified of a concussion, and absolutely shaking in fear, so I called the local health-line.
As I was looking for the number, (after only about a minute or two of crying, really) Celia became distracted by something and decided she was finished crying. It seemed miraculous to me, that she suddenly seemed COMPLETELY normal, and entirely herself.
I stayed on the line, though, and answered about a million questions asked by a nurse who's job it is to determine if I should be taking her in to a doctor or emergency, or if I have nothing to worry about. She gave me a list of things to watch for in the next 6 hours or so, and told me that if any of these things occurred, to either call back or take Celia in.
Sigh... crisis over. She seemed fine. She still seems fine. I'm still setting my cell phone's alarm for every 15 minutes to go in and look at her, but she's ok.
And, for the record, I will NOT be purchasing a toddler helmet for her to wear around the house, although I will probably watch her a bit closer on the couch for a little while...
I've been trying to read more news articles - particularly on children and parenting recently, and there's a significant trend in reporting on the concept of 'helicopter parenting', and it's quite a controversial topic.
This article on the Today Moms website, talks about crawling helmets being made for babies - not for riding on a bicycle or anything like that - but for everyday crawling around the house. To protect them from normal baby bumps and bruises.
I doubt that a helmet on a baby at 8 months will significantly affect how this child behaves when he is older, but the pattern indicated by the parents who require this at this age might just indicate a level of paranoia that will probably significantly affect that poor child when they are old enough to realize just how abnormal their parents are. By putting a helmet on a crawling baby, you might decrease his risk of a serious head injury, but you are also likely increasing his risk of a serious psychological imbalance. I have seen children who are 'babied' to a small degree, and they become adults who are not really confident in being adults. They have been told that they need help and protection from everything, so they go along with that, and never branch out on their own or do anything productive for themselves. They become unproductive and unsatisfied people.
I have a 16 month old daughter, and not a week goes by when I don't panic about some terrifying possibility or another. My daughter could get hurt someday - but honestly, there are no lengths I could go to that would protect her from everything. There is ALWAYS - no matter what I do - the chance out there that she could get hurt, or even killed. My daughter is mortal - someday she will die - and I pray that it is not for at least another 80 years, but no one has that guarantee.
So, with every choice I make with her, I have to think about the immediate consequences as well as the long-term ones. Ultimately, what will this choice do for my daughter, and what is the likelyhood of each possible consequence?
If I allow her to go to the park unsupervised, is the 0.0002% risk that she could be kidnapped enough to outweigh the 48% risk of her having less confidence as an individual if I keep her home, and never allow her in public without an adult closely present?
Will she be required to wear a helmet while riding a bike? Absolutely. Will I demand she wear a seatbelt in the car? Of course. Will I teach her how to protect herself and be wary of strangers? Yes.
But there will come a day when she will the leave the house and I won't see what she does. She might be 13 and riding a bike with her friends helmet-free, or 17 and getting into a vehicle and choosing not to wear a seatbelt. Someday, she may choose to trust someone who shouldn't be trusted and allow herself to be taken advantage of. And I will have to pray and trust that I have taught her well, and that she will choose by herself - with no one watching her - to be as safe as she can be.
As her mother - from the moment she came into being, I began the process of letting go. The process of realizing that she is not part of me, but an entirely separate being, and is learning how to be 'herself' more and more each day.
Yes, I want her to be safe, but I want so much more for her to be HER. Even if that means taking a few bumps and bruises along the way. I have to accept the fact that anything could happen, and that is part of life, but I will make every effort to make sure that she is free to be herself.
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