Monday, September 30, 2013

Bloody vomit

Bloody vomit is scary. Even when you know exactly what is causing it... like, for example, your finger stuck halfway down your baby's esophagus as you try to scoop out a wire cap that she is intent on ingesting. Which is almost exactly the position I found myself in yesterday morning, though the paramedic who subsequently arrived at our house with the ambulance told me after things had settled, that in all probability I was probably just at the very back of her mouth tangled up in her tonsils. Ambulance? You might be chuckling at the overkill and, 24 hours later, I admit I am embarrassed at having called an ambulance. But as I said, bloody vomit is damn scary especially in quantities large enough to soak her shirt, parts of my shirt and the carpet and even more so when accompanied by oozing blood from the nose.

But let me back up, my finger is probing her tonsils and I finally got it out and despite the fact that Little and I were shaking like crazy, for one naive moment, I actually thought we were good. Then the vomiting started. And of course it makes sense - finger down throat, baby will vomit. Corrugated wire cap rubbing against tender tonsils etc., baby will vomit blood. Perhaps even more terrifying was her near catatonic state. She was just spent. I knew I wasn't fit to drive so I thought I'd call a cab. Couldn't think of the number. Couldn't control my fingers enough to look it up. Dialed 911 with Little on my knee still vomiting blood and Big asking me if we were still going to the birthday party. The ambulance arrived maybe 6-7 minutes later and the paramedics checked her out. By this time the vomiting had stopped, the flow of blood from her mouth had stopped. She checked out totally fine (though the completely disinterested and passive way in which she let them examine her scared the hell out of me). They paramedics explained they were legally obliged to offer me a ride to the hospital and could not give me advice either way on whether it was necessary to go; their demeanor however made it clear it was not necessary. Just as I declined, her nose started substantially bleeding again. I changed my mind and off we went.

2 hours later (2 hours... pretty amazingly quick - I figure we must have been triaged in the "nervous mom just humor her" category) the doctor confirmed that he could see a small cut causing the bleeding and there was nothing to be done and Little would be fine. By this time the lethargy had passed and she was climbing the curtains and knocking over the garbage cans and so feeling foolish and like a giant waster of the taxpayer dollar, I gathered my sprog and departed. And yes, we made it to the birthday party.

So there are lots of "take homes" from this little escapade, lots of things to beat myself up over. Let's start with the fact that the wire cap was out in the first place. Bad. Then there's the fact that when I saw it was in her mouth, I immediately went after it instead of asking her for it or just turning her upside down until it fell out. No, I went in panicked, guns blazing and probably pushed it further in. Worse. Those 20 seconds with my finger deep inside my mouth felt like an eternity. She was freaked, struggling, I couldn't grab the cap. It was long enough for me to think "I've got to get behind it", "I'm actually going to push it into her throat", "This could actually be the way she dies". It was.... horrifying. Horrifying how bad my instinct were (despite the fact that I have infant/toddler first aid training and life guarded for many years) and a very potent reminder of how in less than one minute things can go so very wrong.


  1. This all sounds terrible. I would have gone in guns blazing too. You can't blame yourself or beat yourself up for this. These sort of things happen. I think it is one of the horrible things moms occassionally have to endure. And in the end, everyone is okay.

  2. Are you able to breathe properly yet? When No 2 (my affectionate name for the middle child, although he doesn't like the link with, well, other bodily functions called no. 2..) was tiny he swallowed a large leaf of the plastic coated paper I was letting him wrestle with. I can still see it clearly, nicely shaped to seal off his airway and only just visible at the back of his throat. I remember being impressed at how calm I was as I fished for the miniscule corner I could see and tried not to notice how he'd stopped struggling and breathing properly and worse, what would happen if that little edge disappeared down his throat.. Afterwards though it replayed again and again in my mind like a clip from a horror movie stuck on repeat. These things happen. You dealt with it. And there may be take-homes but you did react the way you had to and it was fine - and ringing 911 was the right thing to do, I challange any parent to have handled this differently.. Maybe do a course in first-aid? I wangled my way on the work occupational first aid course but have friends who went on their own time. Mostly you will learn how ring for help, but there are some good gems for choking and resusitation, I found it gave me a bit more confidence in how to handle a situation. And breathe...

  3. Beefy - yes, I am constantly, uselessly reliving the moment, the feel of her tonsils on my fingers, the thrashing, the catatonic stare. I guess our brain re-lives these things so as to move us to action - take a first aid course, pick up the small pieces around our house. My frustration with myself is in part because I DO have first aid and still reacted badly. Whatever, as you and Anegla said, she's okay. It's over. Your scenario sounds even more frightening, thank god you were on your toes and Number 2 is around today (would he perhaps prefer to be called 2 of 3 like a Borg?? (Star Trek reference))

    Also have been meaning to say for ages that I implemented your suggested of a lunchtime run about once a week and that is working out nicely!

  4. 2 of 3, love it (am imagining having 9 kids now..). Glad you are fitting in the runs and somewhat surprised that I have ever offered advise that is useful:). I am apparently marathon training now and just cannot find the time for any runs longer than lunchtime, i fear i will be that cautionary tale of insufficient milage.

    I am learning that it's one thing to be a relaxed parent and another to be lax to the point of danger. Hopefully I am on the right side of that divide these days. I really think you are being too hard on yourself, you reacted exactly as you should, it's the what-ifs that are making you doubt yourself. Incidentally, I can think of quite a few examples of what-ifs but they are almost all with the same child, so it might be a reflection of him and not me... (How's that for passing the buck).

  5. Scary scary stuff. It's hard not to play it back in your mind over and over. I'm glad she's okay (even if you're permanently traumatized... the fate of every parent, sometimes).