When Your Child is in Pain

One of the most difficult things to experience as a mother is to see your child in pain and not be able to do anything about it.  The other night my youngest daughter was doubled over screaming in pain.  Her stomach hurt but in a way that was not normal and I couldn’t help her.  As we waited hours in the ER for test my baby kept yelling “Mom make it stop! I just want to go home!  Mom make it go away!”  I was heartbroken.  I couldn’t make the pain go away and I would have traded anything to take the pain for her.  There weren’t pain medications they could give her because it was her stomach so we watched for hours while they tried to figure it out.  Her top lip was swollen and her nose dripped small amounts of blood from her crying out in pain.

While I had to acknowledge that I could not take away her pain there were definitely things I could do to make my daughter feel better:

  1. If you look or act scared, they will be scared:  The truth is I wanted to breakdown in tears.  I wanted to yell at the doctors and nurses.  I often felt I was on the verge of crying but I reigned it in.  It was not the moment.  If my daughter saw me crying, she would not only be in pain, she would also be worried.  I needed to control what I could.
  2. Reassure them:  I told her we were in the hospital so that they could take care of her pain and we would not leave until she felt better.  I promised her they would make it go away because I knew that through medication or surgery they were going to stop her pain.  There was a light on the other side and she would feel better.
  3. Be honest: I told my daughter exactly what was happening and when it was happening.  For example, when they put the IV in I calmed her down and asked if she trusted me.  I promised her that it would only hurt for a second and I would tell her when that was and then I proceeded to tell her what the nurse was doing, step by step without her seeing it.  When it was time for the needle I told her to breathe calmly and sing a song as she pictured herself somewhere else.  She is terrified of needles and got thorough it beautifully.  She knows when it hurts I will always tell her it will hurt and for how long it will hurt if I have that information.  It gives her a sense of control.
  4. You be in control:  As a parent you have the right to ask questions.  Every medicine they give my child I ask what it is, the dosage, what it does and how long for it to take effect.  Then I google it.  I have the doctors explain everything to me step by step and if it doesn’t make sense to me I have them explain it further and in more detail.  When your child sees you have a handle of what is going on they will feel safer, you are their foundation and their stability.

In the end, my daughter had gastritis.  We spent the whole next day at a Pediatric GI and scheduling her endoscopy to confirm the diagnosis and assess the damage to her stomach. All I can see when I think about it is her in the fetal position crying out for me to take the pain away and my feeling of despair and helplessness.   What she now remembers the most about the episode is some of the better things like when we sang “You are my Sunshine” together to distract her from the pain, or when we started laughing because I had to catch a urine sample from her and while I am holding the cup an unexpected fart escaped!  Good times people, good times.

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