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Shaken to my core

January 10, 2010

Yesterday evening Shane gave me one of the biggest scares I’ve ever had in my short time as a parent. One that, even 24-hours later, still leaves me shaking as I think of just how wrong it could have gone. I had to call the poison control center for the first time in my life.

And it was my fault. Completely my fault.

I left the diaper bag on a table right inside our front door. Something I’ve done just about every day since we first brought him home from the hospital. It’s within reach if I need something, and easily accessible if I need to leave in a hurry.

Unfortunately, it was also easily accessible to Shane, as well.

I was on the phone with my husband, who was finally on his way home from work. We were talking about dinner. About his plans to see a friend that evening. About how his unexpected day of work went. And then from across the room I heard Shane exclaim “Nummy!” and turned to see him holding the dropper from a bottle of infant Tylenol drops in one hand, and the bottle in the other, and a slight pink sheen on his bottom lip. As I ran toward him, he smacked his lips together and began to bring the dropper back up towards his mouth. I snatched it away, screaming “NO!” so loudly, so utterly terrified, that he froze, stunned, and then just crumpled into sobs.

I had forgotten that bottle was even in there. The last time he needed Tylenol was around this time last year when he cut three molars within a week’s time. There wasn’t much left, as far as I remembered. Maybe a few doses-worth, give or take. I remember buying a brand-new bottle (which is still sealed in it’s box in the cabinet) because this particular bottle was just about done, but then the worst of the teething was past, and it wasn’t needed anymore.

A Tylenol overdose is serious, potentially deadly serious, and I had no idea how much Tylenol a 24-pound toddler would have to ingest to be considered a toxic level.

I called the poison control center, and the woman who took my call was wonderful. She told me that a child Shane’s age and size would have to ingest about a third of a 30 ml bottle to cause an overdose, and it just wasn’t possible that he could have swallowed that much, seeing as that it was a nearly empty bottle.

I’m still stunned that he was able to open it. He actually popped the dropper itself right out of the child-proof screw-on cap. I pushed it back into place in the cap, screwed it back onto the bottle, and then gave the bulb a tug, and sure enough, it popped out of the cap. I never should have left it in his diaper bag, in a place where he could get his hands on it, but it unnerves me that a child-proof cap came apart that easily when a toddler tugged on it.

Just typing this all out has left me shaky again. This could have been bad, horribly bad. Thankfully it was a practically empty bottle, but regardless…it shouldn’t have been anywhere within his reach. It’s a horrifying, nauseating thought — that my carelessness could have caused my son serious harm.

As I settled Shane down to sleep last night, I cuddled him on my lap as he nursed, breathed in his sweet after-bath smell, rocked with him as he eased off into dreamland…and quietly cried. Even tonight, a full day later, I found myself standing beside his crib long after he had drifted off, just watching the rise and fall of his chest, and silently promising him — promising myself — to be more careful. More aware. More diligent.

He’s fine, everything’s fine…yet I still feel shaken to my very core.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. January 10, 2010 11:16 pm

    Oh honey… I think this kind of thing happens at least once to every mom. I know that doesn’t make you feel any better, but take the beautiful silver lining for what it is – your kid is okay, and you know that he is smarter than a childproof cap for future reference.

    It’s always those “split-second” things, isn’t it?

    So glad he’s okay.

    • January 14, 2010 5:37 pm

      Thank you so much! And that reminder about the silver lining in all this was much needed!

  2. January 10, 2010 11:59 pm

    I had something similar happen to me last year. My oldest son and baby were sick. He managed to get into the CHILD PROOFED Tylenol and gave the baby a dropper full! I caught him and lost it. I just envisioned horrible things. Luckily the baby was just fine, but it taught me a valuble lesson about keeping medicine far from reach.


    • January 14, 2010 5:38 pm

      That must have been terrifying, especially seeing as your little one was just a baby!
      We’ve moved all the medicines in the house to that almost-unreachable cabinet over the fridge. He’d have to do some serious manuvering to get up there.

  3. January 11, 2010 1:55 am

    How scary for you, Crystal! Your story gave me goosebumps.

    Thank you for the reminder to be “more careful. more aware. more diligent.” I think that is something that every mama needs to hear from time-to-time.

    P.S. I am so very happy that your little boy is okay!

    • January 14, 2010 5:39 pm

      Thank you — I’m glad it all ended well, too…I just wish the reminder to be more aware wasn’t given in such a frightening manner!

  4. January 12, 2010 4:07 pm

    How scary!!
    I do know that they can take much more than the recommended dose, if that helps (likely not). Scary. But, we are all guilty of this, how many of us don’t have some kind of meds in the diaper bag?
    Think of it this way, though, as scary as it was, you reacted calmly, quickly, and appropriately, and THAT is why you’re a good mom.

    • January 14, 2010 5:41 pm

      Thank you! You are awesome, you know that?! 🙂

      I’ve moved any & all meds (even the teething tablets!) out of the diaper bag — everything’s in the cabinet over teh fridge now. That should buy me a little time before he figures out how to reach them…right?

      We were blessed with some seriously adventurous little boys, weren’t we!?

  5. January 12, 2010 4:10 pm

    I don’t know if this will also make you feel better, but once, I needed to give 5ml (1 teaspoon) of antibiotic to a child at the daycare. Somewhere in my head, I flipped it to 5 teaspoons. I had given her 3 before I realized what I was doing (she was less than 2 years old). I lost it, and ran her to the office, shaking and crying. My boss, calmed me, called her dad, who called the pharmacist, who said that it was fine, the worst that would happen might be a bit of diarrhea. Her father had to calm ME down. He told my boss he wasn’t worried about his daughter, he was worried about me! These things do happen, and they usually turn out okay, so promise yourself you will not beat yourself up over it!

    • January 14, 2010 5:43 pm

      Wow…that’s incredibly scary! I think I would have been hysterical, myself! Teachers weren’t allowed to give meds at the center I worked at last — someone from the front office had to administer everything. It was a bit of a hassle, but at the same time I was always thankful that I didn’t have to have that responsibility!

  6. January 12, 2010 4:12 pm

    Something like this happens to every mother. Don’t beat yourself up about it. You didn’t think about him getting to that and it wasn’t as if you let him climb through Drano or something. Saying this, I would have reacted the same way and beat myself up to. “Physician heal thyself,” as Hubby always tells me!

    • January 14, 2010 5:46 pm

      Thank you…you’re right, I can’t flog myself over this! I’ve just been overly pro-active since — I shoved aside the dusty, forgotten liqueur bottles in the cabinet over the fridge and moved all the medications up there. It was a scary lesson to learn, but at least it all ended OK.

  7. January 12, 2010 4:38 pm

    I’m glad he’s ok. So much for child-proof caps. Thankfully, I’ve yet to have to call Poison Control, but my oldest choked on a chicken nugget when he was around 2 and I’ve never looked at a chicken nugget the same since.

    • January 14, 2010 5:49 pm

      That had to have been terrifying for you! Did you have to do the Heimlich maneuver, or was your child able to cough it out?

      I remember going out for breakfast with my aunt & cousin when I was just a kid, and he started to choke on something. My aunt reacted so calmly — flipped him around & performed the Heimlich maneuver before anyone else realized something was wrong, including the table full of EMTs a few booths down! I always had to keep up my CPR certification when I was teaching…and in the back of my mind I was always afraid that I wouldn’t be able to act as calmly as she did if an emergency ever arose.

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