First ER experience with toddler – What to do?

Last fifteen days have been one of the toughest for us as a family. Running to ER in the middle of night with your little one can be extremely distressing for any new parent. I had never imagined common cold can result in a trip to ER. Irony being I wrote a blog about home remedies of common cold just a week before that. Last time home remedies worked like a magic and this time it didn’t because of the kind of viral infection my baby boy had. He had cold due to Rhinovirus (which we came to know in the hospital), his congestion was not letting him eat or drink, he usually breastfeeds more when he is sick but when he said no to breastfeeds, I was worried. We tried everything in our power to comfort him so that he sleeps but I could feel his energy dropping and thats when I lost my calm and was scared to death. After discussing with doctor he told us to take him to ER. I have never been to ER except for my labor and because of numbing pain I don’t remember a thing. Anyways, I don’t think I was emotionally ready to take him to ER but rationally I knew I have to take him. Wrapping him up and going to ER with my crying little one is by far the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.

Our doctor suggested us the closest pediatric ER and it was a good decision to go there. It is different when you are sick or you get admitted in hospital from when your baby needs to get admitted. I don’t know how to put it in words. I don’t know how to explain how distressing, scary and confusing it all gets. As if you are not scared enough, medical jargon does the rest . I never understood when sole purpose of medicine is to help common man couldn’t they have used simpler language. Any how, now we were there and soon my baby was getting all the medical attention he needed. I must say doctors and nurses in ER were really attentive. I was starting to calm down a bit but it was still an uphill climb. Following are the things I learned from my first ER experience with my little one.

Do not delay

If you are in touch with your doctor and the usual treatment is not working, doctor’s words should be treated as written in stone. If your doc says go to emergency then just go. No matter how scared you are, you are the parent and being strong is your job. So, just pack up the basics and go.

Panicking is not an option

I know it by first hand experience how daunting the whole ER experience can be. Especially, when so many nurses and docs are surrounding you tiny baby. They are checking and probing, baby is confused and crying why so many unknown people are touching him and he is already not feeling well, crying turns into hysterical wails because of all the unwanted attention he is getting. I can understand how overwhelming it can be for new parents because true to god it was for me. Only thing that kept me going was mentally repeating to myself “it is good for him and he is going to be just fine”. Don’t panic, try deep breaths and focus on the next right step. Listen to docs and nurses closely, ask questions, do not zone out and let them help you.

Let docs & nurses do their job

Remember it’s your baby, you are super stressed, you are not the doctor and the best way you can help your baby is letting ER doctors do their job. I am not saying don’t ask questions. In fact, ask as many questions you want. Understand the situation best you can. Even research, if you want for alternate options but a lot of times because we are scared we start telling doctors what to do. It makes the whole process more difficult. To be more confident about what doctors are doing you can stay in touch with your pediatrician and tell him the whole process hospital is choosing to take care of your little one.

Don’t go down the internet route

This is easy said than done. I am guilty as charged. I have always read about everything on internet. I mean what the heck.. as a blogger I write about my experiences and advise about the situations that are not easy to deal with. But these are all good when baby is not in ER. When we were in ER only thing I was trying to focus on, was comforting my baby. He was terrified of all the strangers around him, just calming him down was my main focus. Reading unfiltered information on internet and having no energy to check the source of information you are reading, makes every word scarier. Like they say, half knowledge can be dangerous. Talk to as many doctors as you want but try to avoid information on internet. Every kid is different, every situation is different.

Follow your gut feeling

All the while my son was in ER his heart rate wasn’t coming down to normal standard and it was bothering doctors present. I kept telling the doctors he gets anxious in strange and new environments, he will calm down and his heart rate will normalize the minute they are done with diagnosis and he is left alone with us. Doctors obviously took me as a concerned mom talking. Later, when we were moved to a separate room and he had some time alone with me. He was back to his normal self. His heart rate was normal. So, even though we have to follow what doctor says, remember you know your baby best and follow your gut feeling. Don’t hesitate for a second to ask for what will make your baby comfortable. Remember your toddler can’t speak for himself or herself, so speak up loud and clear. Be it your doubts, questions or apprehensions.

Carry favorite toys and books

ER is obviously new environment for your baby, it is best to carry your baby’s favorite blanket, toy or book. Something familiar, will help him calm down and honestly, I absolutely detest hospital blankets. Make sure what ever toys or other objects you are carrying are disinfected. When we reached there we didn’t have any but my husband got it when he made a run to house. I could clearly see the difference in my baby. Instead of going for new toys from ER he was justing playing with his toys, which was a first but I understand the comfort he must be getting from familiar stuff.

Eat something and keep yourself hydrated

Often when we are stressed first thing that suffers is our eating habits. We forget to eat and drink. Normally, I wouldn’t care about it so much but after becoming parent I realized we have to be strong all the time, mentally and physically. So, eat and drink water, your energy is not just important for you but for the baby as well.

Take a moment for yourself

There were moments when I was losing myself. I was so scared and worst part was I was scared to show how scared I was. Whenever there is a crisis, everyone has a job do to and as a mom, my job was to take care of my son, hold him, comfort him and love him. Having said that I can’t deny how exhausting it can be, try and switch roles between you and your husband. Taking a moment to compose yourself is very important.

In my heart, I wish this be my least read blog. I hope no one ever needs to read about what to do when in ER with little ones. But as they say, if wishes were horses and stuff. All I can say in the end is just keep breathing, take small steps and do the next right thing.


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Categories: baby

17 replies »

  1. I’m so sorry that you had this experience? How is your son doing now? I hope that he is much better. I can imagine that it must have been such a scary time.

  2. Well congrats for the great experience that you learn so many thing after, now you know better luck next time.

  3. I remember the first time we took our son to the ER. It definitely is a nerve wracking experience and all you want to do is cry and freak out, but breaking down is definitely not an option, as you said. If you stay calm and collected it really does help the child stay as calm as they can as well!

  4. I’m so sorry your little one had to go to the ER. It must have been a very scary experience. These are such great suggestions for anyone who has to go through that tough experience. I hope he’s feeling better.

  5. I am sorry that you gave to go through this with your little one. As a pediatric nurse myself, I think I would go crazy if my child get sick out of nowhere. Very Good tips.

    • Thank you for your kind words. And hats off to you guys. Being a pediatric nurse is a very tough job and you do it with a smile 😊

  6. I hope your son is feeling better. I’m sure it’s such a scary experience and we appreciate your advice!

  7. I am so sorry your little one was in the hospital. I hope he is feeling better. We have had to take one of our kids to the ER when he was a month old. He had RSV and pneumonia and was also admitted. I agree with all of this advice to parents. It is scary to have your baby in the hospital.

  8. How is your son doing now? These are really good tips, especially for first time parents going for the very first time. I remember my husband used to be really nervous every time our first one got sick!

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