18 May 2011

Reaction Time

I spent most of yesterday afternoon not taking Emmaline to the ER for a head CT. These things happen. I know. I tell parents that all of the time. Smart people. Good people. They double check the straps on the car seat. They child proof the electric sockets. They build tall fences around their yards. But children still fall. Accidents happen.

So yesterday my mom tripped on the front porch stairs. Her shoe went in one direction, her body in another. Emmaline, in her arms, fell with her toward the cement stoop. Her head must have made an audible crack with impact. You would have heard it before the scream. Then, shoe half on and half off they fell again in the front hall. I found them there in a heap.

Once my mom calmed down enough to answer questions it became clear that Em had hit her head, but her own knees took most of the force of it. The second time they fell Em was scared but not hurt. In my arms, she sniffled but had cried herself out. The real trauma was long done.

On the back of her head there was a bump. Not a big one, but you could feel it, furtively before she batted your hand away.

In the ER, I would not have hesitated. I would have looked at the smiling child and the frightened parents and told everyone without hesitation that a head CT was not warranted. I would have shown them a little graph that mapped the risk of skull fracture and serious intracranial injury based on their child's symptoms. I would have told them it was safe to sleep through the night. I would have been concerned but reassuring. I would have watched the child in the ER until they felt reassured.

There are people who don't go into pediatrics - gifted students who love taking care of children - because they don't want to take care of the parents. Yesterday, I wouldn't have blamed the person who did not want to take care of me. I was not crazy, not exactly, but I also was not sane.

Em was long overdue for a nap by the time this happened. Keeping her awake would not help anyone, especially not Em. So she needed to go to sleep. Still I could not leave her alone in her crib, baby monitor or not. Sleeping in my bed is difficult for her, but she eventually went down. And I lay next to her, eyes closed, pretending to be snoozing so she would not talk to me and keep herself from napping. Eventually she was still.

I listened to her breathing. I placed a hand lightly on her chest. When she sat bolt upright I moved a hand to rub her back until she settled down again right next to me. I nibbled on one chubby hand.

Today, she's completely over it. I am less so. Still, she seems to be doing okay. The jury is still out on her Nana, but I think it we can keep her from touching the bump on Emma's head she may be able to avoid any further tears.

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