By about 8 months old, little N was a crawling machine and we knew that it was time to get the house baby proof. We did a few little projects which we thought was enough to protect the man and keep cleaning protects and electronics out of his reach. We thought that was enough and life went along fairly normal.
Turns out this Thanks.giving we woke up to a mouse in the house! As C tried to catch it and restore our home to a mouse free environment, I worked to keep N away from traps and the general den area until we could get things cleaned up. In an effort to keep him safe we let him play in another room, one where I had done a project with a staple gun months ago. Since we are often in there, and I had run a vacuum at least a dozen times since my project, I never thought there might be hazards in the form of a few stray staples.
Of course, in the span of 5 minutes of crawling around supervised, N looks up at us with a little shiny thing hanging out of the corner of his mouth. Immediately, we jump up and find that it is indeed a staple and then see a few more on the carpet. The immediate thought is How Many Did He Eat?? When you think about it, it seemed unlikely that he would have swallowed a staple and not coughed or cried or otherwise let us know, but since 9 month olds are not great at communicating, the general consensus was to take him to the emergency room.
After my baby's first x-ray and the swallow test, he got the all clear and we came back home. We were slightly shaken but grateful all was just fine. And after vowing to keep the house even cleaner, life went back to normal.
Normal lasted one day. We have family in town and had everybody over for lunch yesterday. While my SIL and I sat on the floor and talked, N was playing happily in the corner of his bedroom. All of a sudden, he started making a gagging noise and it was clear something was wrong. We jumped up and saw that he had gotten his hands on some cardboard and bit a couple chunks out of the corner. He could breathe, but he was not happy about the cardboard sandwich that he couldn't seem to get out of his mouth.
I was able to stick my finger in his mouth to find the cardboard and triggered his gag reflex, which made him throw up all over himself and my hand and trickle onto the carpet. My sweet SIL got the tub ready and we got N all cleaned up and happy again.
After this, I actually felt pretty confident in my mothering skills. As it is something that I only have 9 months experience with, it felt good to have a problem and jump up and take care of it. After the crazy week, we all came out the other side just fine. After my family left, and N was safely tucked into his bed for the night, I told my best friend over a text about all the chaos.
My best friend is a woman I admire for her no nonsense attitude. She was always the tough one while I was more sensitive and we seemed to fill in where the other was lacking. It has been that was since 10th grade and even though I have moved away, we stay in touch with daily emails and texts and regular calls.
I told her about the chaos, looking and maybe expecting some praise for my excellent mothering skills, some commiseration about the trouble little boys get into (she has a 2 year old son) and a good laugh about how we are in for years of this type of thing...instead, I got a "you shouldn't have stuck your finger down his throat, you could have pushed the cardboard down further." This stung for a few reasons. First, it was not what I expected her to say and second, it made me second-guess my instincts. That sucked. I was proud of my instincts and with one sentence a person that was close to me was able to make me doubt myself. I never responded back to her text.
We took the baby CPR class back when I was pregnant and have the choking chart hanging up in the cabinet by the kitchen phone. I do my best to try and find the happy medium between keeping N safe and letting him explore. I puree everything he eats and don't rush him with more solids like bread and cheerios (even though my Mom thinks I should be giving it to him by now...reserved for another blog post). I still find myself reaching out to make sure he is breathing while he sleeps, just like I did when he was a newborn. I love my baby and the thought that I might have hurt him by trying to help him is making my eyes well up while I am typing this. My best is good enough, right?
He is only 9 months old. I have years of this to go. I don't want to doubt myself. My instincts have gotten me this far. I did the right thing. Why am I so sensitive about something that turned out just fine in the end? What happens next time? I don't want to hesitate and second-guess myself when the next thing happens.
I'm still not sure how to respond to my friend. I may just gloss over what she said and move on. My DH said he was good with what happened and how I reacted. He made the point that maybe we have to make more of a childproofing effort. I agree. Part of me wants to tell my mom what happened, just to hear that she thinks I did good. But, if she goes the way of my friend, I think that might make me more upset. My SIL stayed as calm as me. N is fine, maybe some extra roughage in his diaper today. If this situation happened again, I would do the exact same thing. Where can I find the confidence to trust myself and not look for validation from others?