Coping with my baby's first hospital visit

Posted Wednesday 30th October 2013   By Ericka Waller

When my eldest daughter was a baby she was full of life. Her cheeks were always red from her non-stop energetic explorations. From the second she woke up, till the moment she slept, she was always up to something. Whispering, rubbing, banging, clapping, laughing, she was never silent.

I was working late when my husband, who was only outside my office, called to say “Hurry.” Our daughter was ill. I did not switch off my computer or pull on my cardigan. I just ran for the car, taking the stairs two at a time.

We got to the childminder’s house to find my daughter awake but listless, like a toy whose battery had run out. In hindsight we should have gone straight to A&E right then. But this was the first time our baby had been ill and we had no idea what to do.

We got an emergency appointment to see a doctor. My daughter lay somewhere between the layers of consciousness as we waited to go in. ”Go home and let her sleep,” was his only advice. I’m ashamed to say that we drove home as he said. By this time my daughter was asleep and we could not wake her up.

My husband carried her into the house. “What do we do?” He asked, as if I had the answer. Until that moment I had always been able make things right, be it with my milk, my smell, or the sound of my voice. But these wouldn’t work this time.

I called the NHS helpline. The lady I spoke to was calm and kind as she asked me to check my daughter’s temperature and describe her state. Did she have a rash?

She told me to drive straight to the Children’s hospital. They knew she was coming and immediately started working on her when we arrived.

They explained that when a child gets too hot various things can happen. In some cases they can have difficulty breathing and seem very sleepy, like she was.

Tests showed that our girl had an inner-ear infection. Actually pretty harmless, but it still took far too long to treat. She was given medication and monitored for the evening. When we eventually left I couldn’t thank everyone enough.

Now, six years and two more children later, we are regulars at A&E. They know us by name and I realise our visits are part of being a parent. I know never to hesitate when you have an unwell child.

Do you know what to do if your child is unwell?

Find help in our section Caring for your sick baby