Monday, February 8, 2010

Doctor’s Appointments: More Traumatic For Baby Or Mom?

My husband and I were advised by a G.I. Specialist to have our daughter’s blood drawn due to some issues she was having with blood in her stool. They wanted to test it to make sure she didn’t have any blood clotting disorders.

After giving it some thought for a couple weeks, not wanting to inflict pain on our baby if it wasn’t necessary, we decided we’d take his advice and take her to the “local” Children’s Hospital (a 30-minute drive, but definitely worth the extra time on the road).

The morning of the blood draw, I woke up feeling nervous and queasy. We are delaying vaccinating our daughter, so, except for her newborn screening, she’s never been poked with a needle. I had no idea how she would handle it. I’d heard that some babies do very well, and others scream and thrash the entire time.

I had considered having her pediatrician write up a prescription for EMLA, giving her Tylenol an hour before, or seeking other pain management techniques. However, as I am in favor of doing things as naturally as possible, I decided the only pain management we’d use would be a Sweet Ease. I packed a sippy cup of water and a ziplock bag of sugar in case the hospital didn’t carry them, but I was pretty confident they would.

My sister was in town, visiting from another state, and came along for moral support. We took advantage of the hospital’s free valet service and headed up to the outpatient lab. I breastfed her in the waiting room to keep her veins nice and plump. We watched as preschool-aged children were called and headed to their appointments with their parents. One by one, they all returned, smiling and holding a sparkly sticker - a reward for their good behavior.

It seemed like we waited forever, and when they called our name, I was eager to get it over with. The second we entered the room, I requested a Sweet Ease, and the nurses gladly brought one out. They asked me to lay my daughter down on the table, and quickly and efficiently prepped her for the poke, including dipping her binky into the Sweet Ease. They told me that they would hold her down, and I could stand nearby.

I felt close to tears as I envisioned my sweet little baby being restrained, thrashing around in pain, and wondering why her mother wouldn’t save her from the strangers that were inflicting pain on her body.

A few seconds after sucking on her sugary binky, my usually squirmy baby became unusually calm and placid. She lay completely still, hardly moving a muscle. “Just wait until you try to hold her arm still,” I thought, remembering how strongly she resists the few seconds when her arms are trapped as I get her dressed each morning.

One nurse applied the tourniquet, and I held my breath, waiting for the outburst. It never came.

Next came the needle, and I was shocked as they slid it into her vein (got it on the first try – go Children’s Hospital!)… and she didn’t even flinch!

I continued to watch in amazement as they filled three small vials with her blood, never once needing to restrain her.

They removed the needle, put pressure on the poke site, then applied a Band-Aid. Still no movement.

I was in shock. After a few seconds of silence, I exclaimed, “Wow, that really couldn’t have gone any better!” I was grinning from ear to ear with relief. “It really couldn’t have,” agreed one of the nurses.

I thanked them for the job well done, and walked out of the room, feeling triumphant. I chose a sparkly sticker on my way out the door.

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