As we continue to celebrate child life month, we have another guest blog post from an anonymous parent.
As a first time mom you are learning right along side of your little one. I mean let’s be honest you have never been a mom, how are you supposed to know everything? The answer is you’re not, and looking back, how would I have ever known what was wrong?
It was a very exciting time for my family and I. My first-born was 18 months old, we were expecting our second son that spring and to boot I was offered a great position in a preschool working part-time, allowing my 18 month old to come with me. Life was fabulous!
One morning I dropped him off in his class where he was still getting adjusted to, but as a first time mom and a post preschool teacher of many years I knew or I thought I knew to let him cry it out, just like I did when I sleep trained him. Well that day he cried all day. Towards the afternoon I said something isn’t right. I went in scooped him up and brought him in my class and cuddled with him. He started to calm down but never stopped crying fully, so I did what any first time mom would do I carried him around with me. After an hour I said to myself okay now this is getting crazy!
Right before we left work I decided to change his diaper and what I saw next was extremely devastating. As I looked down what I thought was his intestines was really a massive hernia, I thank god that day a pediatric doctor was in the room. She took one look at him and said get to the hospital right away. I scooped up my child and I got to the hospital as fast as I could.
There we learned that this was even more serious. He was rushed with me and my husband to the sonogram room where he was held down by many doctors in order to make sure the blood flow to his groin was still working.
My mind was racing…..how did he get a hernia? Was it because I let him cry too long? Was his diaper to tight? I remember saying to doctors it’s just a hernia, how did it get so alarming? I was lost and all of a sudden my inner mom thoughts came to surface. I started to remember what one of my best friends, who happens to be a child life specialist, had taught me.
So as we were in the wheelchair, I pretended it was a polar express train going to the North Pole. When he was screaming from pure anxiety during the sono, I layed across him where my face was against his, telling him he was okay that mommy would never let anything or anyone hurt him on purpose. I began to sing to him and cry with him and at that moment he started to calm down and realized he had me and I wasn’t going anywhere.
We came home knowing he was getting surgery in a couple of days. I was a mess. I quickly picked up the phone and called what I like to call her “my mommy rock” also known as a child life specialist, my best bud, Shani.
She walked me through it all I remember feeling guilty knowing that there were children with far worse situations. She reminded me that he was my child going through this experience and that was as hard as any other situation. She made me a little bag of fun things for him at the hospital and dropped it off early in the morning so we wouldn’t forget it. She was my rock, she held me up when I couldn’t hold myself. She helped me be strong for my family. She called to check up on him and at the same time giving me space so I can deal with my baby being in so much pain.
I remember not being able to bring him into the operating room because I was pregnant. I also remember crying because he was never away from me and left with strangers (well strangers to him the doctors where absolutely amazing). I also remember holding him after kissing him a million times. I can honestly say I still get teary eyed when I think about it.
Some people say, please it’s just a hernia, but did you know?
A) a hernia can stop the blood flow and cause a cardiac arrest?
B) a hernia not treated can cause other health problems
Thanks to Shani, I knew what questions to ask and even came up with other ones that I wouldn’t have thought about if it wasn’t for her.
It took two weeks for him to feel better and I have to say if it wasn’t for my family, friends and especially my best friend, I wouldn’t have been able to be as strong as I was.
So here’s to child life month! Thank you for getting me through a serious, traumatic mommy experience and for teaching me how doctors and scary moments don’t have to be so scary after all.
Anonymous Parent of Two
If you would like to share a story of an experience that you had with a child life specialist, or how you learned about the field, please click here.