The other night I had to take my 2 1/2 year old to the ER. She swallowed a watch battery about the size of a nickel. Why is it that all toddlers must experience everything through their taste buds? It is not enough to touch the battery or see the battery or smell the battery…oh no…it must be rolled with the tongue, caressed by the cheek. And if it happens to slide down the throat by mistake–oh well! It was worth it just to see what that shiny little circle tasted like!
When she came up to our room and announced that she had “swallowed the money” (she thought it was money….no Dear, the emergency room is what money looks like), I must admit that I was not as “calm, cool and collected” as I wish I’d been. I am not exactly a fortress of strength in times of trouble. My first reaction was to panic, which in this case consisted of shaking and shouting in an annoyingly high-pitched voice: “I know I read somewhere that batteries are BAD to swallow!” (As if anyone on this planet would suggest eating a battery for an after-dinner snack.)
My husband, the ever-calm, “nothing-bad-could-ever-happen” dad, tells me not to worry, “She’ll just poop it out.” So after he calms me down and we put her to bed, we both think better of it and decide to call Poison Control. As I’m talking to a very in-control Susan on the other end of the line, my husband is whispering to me, “Don’t give them any information! They can sue us! Do you want them to take our child from us!?!” Susan recommended we take her to the ER to have her x-rayed and make sure the battery is passing through and not releasing acid to corrode her insides.
When we get to the ER, Rae is immediately smitten with the receptionist (who is equally as smitten by her…and who wouldn’t be, with her ice cream cone pajamas, clinging to her little white bunny?) As we wait, we snuggle up close and discuss the Winnie the Pooh mural. And suddenly I am hit with the thought…
I am so blessed.
This could have been so much worse. How many parents have had to rush their child to the ER because he fell into scalding water, or broke his arm, or ate something and turned blue?! And so I am overcome with both gratefulness and fear.
Gratefulness because I am here, with a beautiful corn-silk blonde baby girl, so smart and healthy, who will probably be just fine. But fear because of how quickly all of that can change.
Images flash in my head–the mother turning to check on her baby in the car seat who doesn’t see the truck run the stop sign; the player with the football scholarship.–and undiagnosed heart failure–rushing onto the field; the elderly couple going to bed together for the last time–no one ever knows when they are living in that “last moment,” the moment that changes everything.
Last moments happen in an instant…in the words of a doctor, in the knock on the front door, and even in the swallow of a battery. So in a way, I am thankful that my daughter only swallowed a battery. And every time I have to sift through her poop to see if it’s come out yet, I will try to give thanks for all the blessings–and moments–we have together.