The Motrin Story

OK, here it is. Terrible kid-got-into-stuff story as mentioned last week. I'm finally up for it.

A time comes in every mother's life when there is complete and utter white-faced panic.

You wonder how you're going to react in that situation when or if the time comes and you hope that you're going to end up doing the right thing. What you really hope, though, is that you've done all the prep work and have found that successful protective-without-being-overprotective combination, enough so that you won't have to stare into the face of any kind of "situation" at all. But I guess sometimes things fall through the cracks. You develop a sense false of security that allows you to feel comfortable enough to let them out of your sight for just a second because it will all be ok. You let your guard down for just the teensiest second.

And that's when it happens.

I had a headache for a week after this. Ironically Motrin won't work on this headache. Nor will sleep. Because I couldn't. This is the headache you get when your mommybrain short circuits.

Last week, we were battling a fever. It wasn't too bad, a 101. And it came out of nowhere with no symptoms in sight. But my son is known for the phantom fever. He gets a fever that spikes, we treat it, it goes away as quickly as it comes.

This time, he woke up crying around 4:30 in the morning Monday and it was a 102.5. I gave him his medicine, he went right back to sleep, I put the bottle on the counter and schlepped back to bed.

He's two and a half. Sometimes he wakes up before us and plays quietly in his room, other times he comes straight to ours and wakes us up. This time, he was up before us but I didn't know it. He was quiet about it.

My husband woke up and went out into the living room and that's when he saw it. My two-year-old holding the big ol' Children's Motrin bottle.

And it was empty.

What would you do? I'll give you a moment to think about it because it was the last thing that I ever thought would happen and I hadn't thought about what to do before that. I knew about poison control and 911 and all of that, but I hadn't a well thought out plan because I always put things out of reach and out of sight and screwed those caps on tight.

And now, thinking back to my 4:30 in the morning schlep, did I? As a protector I had failed and I was standing there blank, knowing only one fact: that I did not know how much he had consumed except that the bottle was empty. The only thing I did know after that was that I didn't think. I threw on clothes, got his shoes on, put the empty bottle in my purse and ran out the door to the Emergency Room.

I was a mix of panic and crying as the ladies at the reception desk asked me calmly to fill out the paperwork and go sit down while what I really wanted to do was pull them by the front of their shirt and yell, "Get the doctor! Do you see he just drank Motrin?? We need HELP!" But I went and sat down and of course when a little too much time passed for my liking, had to get up to say something like, "Is there anything I can do in the meantime?" while they said, "No, go sit down, they'll be with you soon." But not soon enough because all I could picture was the Motrin traveling to this part of him and that part, the more time ticking away the more quickly the medicine is spreading and all the while still,!

Finally we were called in and he was happy as a clam explaining to the nurse who asked him what was wrong, "I dank too much med-sin" as I tried to remain calm while feeling like a failure as a mother and a panicky mess inside that just wanted to explode. And all his vitals were fine, and we went into the little room and it was 8 o'clock so we got to watch Curious George on the little tv while they put all these little "stickers with wires" all over his chest and he was anxiously awaiting seeing the doctor because he loves seeing doctors.

It was a short visit. The doctor said he did not ingest toxic levels of the medicine. Oh, thank God.

And when I got home, every medicine we had was already in a box that we have now put on a top shelf of the closet out of reach and I only disclose this because he can't read yet. You'd think this would have been a sigh of relief, but to tell you the truth, I can't get past that initial panic feeling that something terrible had happened and even worse, it was because I had not been more careful. And the panicky feeling is following me around like a cloud.

There is an age where your eyes have to be on them all the time. They're crawling and then just walking and they touch this and touch that and they don't know what they can and can't touch. But you vigilantly stand by them and follow them around saying, "No no honey," and redirect them and protect them. And then there is an age where they start to know right from wrong and are becoming a little more independent, and that's when you do things like let them play in another room for a few minutes because there's nothing they can get into and it's ok.

But it's not. Because once they are getting a grasp on right from wrong (and really that only means things like not touching a red hot stove), they're learning this other little thing called "cause and effect." Out comes this need to explore. They're trying to figure out what happens when they open up a whole box of bandaids or bag of beads or Qtips. Because they're fuzzy and they're sticky and they're pretty. And you have to rethink "babyproofing" and instead make it "toddler-proofing" because it's not just the hard stuff they're getting into, it's everything!

It's a whole different ballgame now. Everything is an experiment. Does it taste good? Does it feel nice on your hands? Does it stick? Does it fly? Does it fit in my nose?

And there is a great deal of this that goes on that doesn't hurt anyone because it's more annoying than anything and the items are really rather innocuous. But see, they don't know this. They don't know the difference. And that's where we (and I say we but I mean "I") can get complacent.

Well of course, I come home from the ER and I google all sorts of topics surrounding Children's Motrin and drinking it by the glass to find out if the doctors were right. And from what I read, they are. Motrin is the lesser evil when dealing with Motrin vs. Tylenol (according to internet searches). If the kid drinks Tylenol, you could be in much bigger trouble. Then again, that's not entirely true because every little body is different. Either way, I beg you, please don't learn it first-hand, take it from me. Lock it up. Tylenol, Motrin, all of it. Even if it seems out of reach, put it higher. When I went to fill a prescription a couple months ago, there was a long list of flavors they could give the medicine. They told me to pick my first, second and third choices, but there were at least a dozen on the list. And in my much-more educated opinion, this is both good and bad. My kid likes the taste of medicine but I almost wish he didn't. Because he would want to stay away from the bottles of it and that would give me more peace than I have now. Not enough to make be be any less careful, but still.

And when I was explaining this all to my mom, she told me that my sister admitted to drinking the penticillan my mom kept in the fridge and I admitted I used to pop Flintstone vitamins by the handful when they weren't home. And this was when we were well above 2, probably 5 or 6, even 7 or 8 years old. So you see, it doesn't stop at the toddler years! It's actually worse! They just get smarter! Plus, they can climb!

This incident has taken at least 10 years off my life in just one flash. The could'ves and the would'ves that constantly flow through my mind as possible worst-case scenarios, they won't stop and they give me a constant piercing headache and I'm literally sick over it.

I'm serious. Don't get complacent. Stay vigilant. Lock it up. Lock it all up. Everything. Cleaners, medicines, liquor, everything. And have your relatives do the same.

Also, think, I mean seriously think about what your reaction would be and how on earth you'll try and keep your head God forbid something ever does happen because honestly, you can't help anyone if you're standing there in panic and shock.

Finally, post the number to poison control everywhere. 1-800-222-1222. There are 4 million poisonings every year, and half (yes, half!) are children. We've all probably searched and researched all the tips on babyproofing a million times, but even the best babyproofers could use a refresher so here's a link to Babyproofing 101 as stated by a really helpful web site called Kid Safe. And then just go around your house and give it a once or twice-over, even if only for peace of mind.

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  1. Wonderful and awesomely written post, Christie. It was like being there with you and feeling that sinking sense of scary panic. I hope the icky feeling goes away soon and that you don't beat yourself up about it too badly because mistakes do happen, and everything did turn out OK, but I'm sure I'd be kicking myself a few times for a bit, too, because that's what we do. Gosh, how scary. I am so very, very glad that everything is OK. You've put this out there and hopefully reminded someone to remember the basics, and that's a good thing.

    I had to take some really disgustingly awful medicine for what seems like my entire childhood (or maybe just a week or two that seemed like forever), and while I don't think any medicine should taste quite that bad if it doesn't have to, I'm inclined to agree with you that it also doesn't need to exactly taste good. Many of us ate cherry flavored cough drops. Oddly enough, Santa gave me some Life Savers for Christmas, and the cherry ones taste *exactly* like I remember the cough drops.

  2. I'm so glad that Poops is ok!! What a frightening situation. I would have wanted to beat the receptionist at the ER in the head for not getting you in sooner.
    I remember my first white hot fright moment. I was pg with the youngest and the oldest and I were shopping at a nursery for flowers. He was just over 2 yrs old and defiante as heck. I think he also knew that I was 7 months pg and couldn't move that quickly. They had a play house at one part of the nursery to keep the kids busy while the parents shopped, but I wanted to move on and he didn't want to leave the play house. With some kicking a screaming I managed to pull him away. He refused to hold my hand because he was angery and I thought "Fine then. Just stand there". But as you know, kids and especially 2 year olds, don't just stand there. I bent down to check out some flowers and when I glanced over at him, he was gone. The nursery is right on a busy road that has 45 mph speed limits and it's only seperated by a small parking area. White Hot Panic hit me. What if my baby was on that road? What if someone snatched him? It was about 30 seconds of panic and me screaming his name before I saw him crawl out from under one of the tables. That 30 seconds seemed like forever and it took about 10 years off my life. I could just picture my baby in the middle of that road getting hit by a semi. I still get a racing heart when I think about that day. That was my first inkling that these kids were going to give me a run for my money. And that was the first major panic I ever felt as a mom. I don't want to feel it again, even though I know it's unavoidable.
    I'm sending hugs to you and please give Poops a give squeeze from me.

  3. this post had to have been tremendously hard to write (and BIG BIG HUGS FROM A FELLOW MAMA) and yet is a gift beyond words.

    I hate to think I needed this---but I needed this.

  4. We had this same craziness at our house over the weekend. Except it was a bottle of vitamins. My oldest climbed up on the counters and got it down and opened it (so much for child proofing).. and my youngest ate the entire bottle of kid vitamins. I FLIPPED! But, as luck would have it.. I bought the WRONG kind of vitamins.. these had 0 iron in them.. I iron would have been the only possible deadly ingredient. His all-you-can-eat vitamin buffet did give him diarrhea.. but that's all.

  5. How scary! Glad it turned out okay!

  6. oh how scary, I am so glad he is ok. Even with my nephew and niece my heart stops when they do things that I think could be dangerous!

  7. Scary. I'm so glad that it wasn't worse!

  8. I remember when my oldest was about three. My hubby had a cold & was going to take some Sudafed. He had two little red pills sitting on the counter. My little guy spied them, yelled "Candy!," snatched those up & popped them in his mouth QUICK! I was only able to fish one out. He swallowed the other. I called our doc office. They had me call Poison Control - I had no thought to do that first. He ended up fine. So scary though.


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