Rob, Orla and I spent last Friday night at Accident and Emergency after Orla fell and had a nasty bump on the head. It was our first trip to A&E with Orla and I thought I’d write down how we reached this most unwanted parenting milestone!
Orla and I had been playing in the dining room whilst Rob made tea. Orla was running around, jumping and dancing to her own made up songs whilst wearing her sparkly “princess” dress. Normal evening activity in our house! She suddenly stumbled after a jump, fell forward, and her precious little head landing slap bag on the marble corner of the fireplace.
I was sat right next to her, I saw it happen in slow motion but completely failed to move my arms quick enough to catch her. Nearly a week later and I still wince with guilt thinking about it. I knew it was going to be bad before she even had time to let out the first cry. I scooped her up in my arms and she buried her face in my chest. Rob heard the bang of her fall and came quickly to our side.
We gently moved Orla so we could see her head and, sure enough, she was bleeding. Rob is excellent in a crisis; he cleaned her up with kitchen roll and got me to hold a wad against her head to slow the bleeding. We gave her some calpol straight away too. In a few minutes she was sat on my knee on the sofa with a plaster on whilst Rob was on the phone with 111.
After answering their questions, the operator on the phone was satisfied that she wasn’t in immediate danger but recommended that we should go to Accident and Emergency to get her checked out anyway.
And that was when Orla really got upset. She was more distressed about going to hospital than she was about the bump.
She kept telling me; “We’re not going. I’m OK! I want to stay here, mummy!” That was heartbreaking, to upset her further after such a nasty fall, but we wanted to make absolutely sure she was OK, and we thought that her head may need gluing back together. I thought the sooner that cut was treated the better it would heal, so off to hospital we must go!
We got Orla out of the sparkly dress and into some comfy clothes. I got changed too; I’d got straight into my pajamas on coming home because I’d fancied a particularly lazy evening, but clearly a lazy evening was not on the cards anymore. We packed the baby bag with spare clothes, pajamas, a snack and a drink. Trying to be prepared in case we had to stay a long time.
Orla grew accustomed to the idea that we were going, and even helped choose some toys to take with us. Once in the car I texted our parents and a couple of close friends to let them know what had happened and we prayed. We knew our friends and parents would pray for her too. Orla fell asleep in the car. The operator had told us that was likely to happen and not to worry about it.
We had a minor panic in the carpark when we remembered that we would have to pay for parking. I’d forgotten my purse and Rob only had £1 in his wallet. I wrote out a note to put in our windscreen that said something like; “We have taken our 2 year old daughter to A&E, we only have £1. Please don’t fine us, 21/09/18, 6:20pm”
Luckily Rob found some change at the bottom of Orla’s bag whilst I was writing the note so he went and got the ticket. I know that finding change for parking is only a little hassle but little things feel like big things when you are already stressed. Later in the evening we discovered that I had packed my purse in the bag after all, my brain was just to frazzled to remember packing it. A couple of hours later when we were leaving there was still a few hours left on the ticket so Rob left it in the ticket machine so that the next person to arrive could use it.
We got into hospital and I instantly felt calmer for being in the place where there are doctors and nurses all around. We checked in at reception and were directed to a children’s waiting room. The room was small but had a collection of toys and books. There were about four other children in there. We settled in, with our very subdued little girl. She was very quiet and didn’t want to play with any of the toys. She just wanted to snuggle into us, wrapping her body around mine like a panda cub.
A quarter of an hour later a nurse called us into another room and did some observations. The nurse was warm and friendly but I could feel Orla’s tension rising. I could tell she was scared and soon on the verge of tears as the nurse looked in her eyes, ears and mouth, but she was really brave and let the nurse do her work.
Then the nurse wrapped a small disc around her finger and measured her heartrate. Well, Orla was terrified so her heartrate was sky high. I felt so sorry for her, and really wanted to convince her that everything was OK. This was all new to me but not to the nurse who suddenly produced some bubbles and we spent a few minutes popping bubbles and playing until Orla’s heartrate slowed to a more normal rate.
After the observations we were sent back to the waiting room to wait for the Doctor. Another twenty minutes went by. The Doctor came and took us into a different room. More observations, and this time the Doctor looked at the wound. He cleaned it and then said it would just need a little bit of glue. He then left and we waited for another person to come and administer the glue. Another ten minutes and she arrived. This second lady was brilliant. She got Orla chatting a little bit. To administer the glue Orla had to lie on the bed, so that the glue wouldn’t drip down her face. Orla was scared of lying down so the lady said that I could lie next to her. Orla and I were soon lying side by side on the bed whilst the doctor cleaned the cut and added the glue. She talked to Orla throughout and let her know what she was doing.
When she was finished she allowed Orla to choose a sticker from a big pack she had with her. Orla chose one of a smiling cat. Then the other Doctor came back and said that they would like us to stay for another couple of hours just so they can be absolutely sure that she wasn’t concussed.
Back to the waiting room we went. It was about 7:20pm so Rob took Orla to the toilet and got her dressed into her pajamas. Whilst they were in the toilet it was like someone flicked a switch on Orla. I could hear her little voice chatting to Rob and a couple of minutes late the toilet door opened and out walked Orla who loudly announced to the waiting room; “I don’t want to wear my shoes. Daddy put them in the bag for later.”
She was suddenly acting much more like her usual self. She sat on my knee, had a snack, read some stories and played with the toys. She even began making friends with a little boy who also had a big plaster on his forehead. At 8pm the Doctor observed her again and as she was talking and moving so much he said that there weren’t any immediate concerns and we could take her home. He gave us a leaflet of information of how to care for someone with a head injury and told us to call if we were concerned.
We couldn’t have asked for better care from the hospital. Everyone who treated Orla was kind and calm. We were at hospital for a couple of hours but we were seen by someone roughly every twenty minutes, and most importantly Orla got the treatment that she needed.
Orla talked the whole way home as we drove back in the car, a constant stream of toddler observations; “Hello Mr Moon! I can see a plane in the night sky. That is so interesting! I can see a tree mummy! And another tree! And another tree! And another tree!”
Once home we heated up the tea that we had abandoned earlier and ate together. I gave Orla another dose of calpol and took her up to bed. At about ten o’clock she finally fell asleep. Rob and I were exhausted so we just each took a drink up to bed, read for a little bit, thanked God that she was OK and went to sleep.
And that is the story of Orla’s first (and I’d love to hope that it will be the last) trip to Accident and Emergency. I know it is a right of passage for all parents, and in hindsight it could have been a lot worse.
My first thoughts were ones of guilt and sadness that my little girl had hurt and that her precious body might be scarred. But those feelings lessened quickly. All bodies get bumped and scraped, knocked and scarred. It’s a sign of being alive.
My most lasting feelings are of gratitude. I am grateful that Orla has a perfectly healthy body. I am grateful for the NHS. And I am grateful that we had a God to pray to who we trusted would be with us as we tackled this hurdle. I feel grateful that my little girl was and is looked after from every side, by parents who love her, by a country that looks after it’s vulnerable citizens and by God who loves her even more than I do. That’s a lot to be grateful for!