Five minutes into a phone call, I heard it.
A terrible, loud thud followed by a screaming cry. Somehow my mind instantly knew what the sound was, as I hung up the phone and rushed to my youngest’s bedroom. I found him face down on the wood floor – not in his crib where I had laid him down for a nap.
Somehow my 8-month-old had climbed out of the crib and fallen. Terrified and panicking, I called my pediatrician who said he was most likely fine if no bones appeared to be broken, but to watch out for signs of a concussion. If I saw signs of a concussion, I was advised to take him to the ER immediately. Not one minute after getting off the phone, he threw up.
Years of watching The Office has taught me many things, but that day, Dwight’s concussion episode came rushing to my mind. Throwing up was a sign of a possible concussion after head trauma.
I hadn’t been to an emergency room since I was a child and had broken both my arms. As an adult, I had never even thought through what we should bring, or do, or even which emergency room or hospital we should go to if something happened to one of our boys.
Five hours later, my baby and I were cleared to go home from Children’s Hospital. He was fine. It was determined that he had just worked himself up from crying, which resulted in throwing up.
Just two weeks later, my oldest son woke up with an abnormally swollen eye. By the end of the day, his eye was so swollen that we worried it would rupture a blood vessel in the middle of the night.
Off to the emergency room we went. Thankfully, this time I was a bit more prepared. I quickly threw together a bag with some toys, books, water and snacks. I drove to a much closer ER. We were admitted and seen by a nurse and a doctor within five minutes of parking the car!
He ended up being fine too. The doctor correctly diagnosed him and prescribed him something that almost immediately brought the swelling down.
Ten days later…we were back. This time it was the baby again. Three emergency room visits in less than a month. Again and thankfully, everyone was okay, but at this point, I felt like it was routine.
That month was crazy. We haven’t been back to our home-away-from-home since then (knock on wood), but I have two young boys. I expect we will be back to the ER at some point in the next 18 years.
I truly surprised myself at how unprepared I was for that first ER visit. It’s a situation I hope no mom ever finds herself in, but it’s better to be prepared than frantic and in shock the way I was.
Get your ER Game Plan in place today.
- Call your insurance provider. *Ugghhh* is what you are all collectively thinking. No one enjoys calling their insurance provider. This is a necessary evil though. Knowing ahead of time (and when you’re not in the midst of an actual emergency) what your coverage looks like will help so much. Ask things like “What is my ER visit copay?” “Can I visit any ER?” “How much should I expect to pay out of pocket?”
- In-Network Hospitals. Know what ERs and hospitals are in-network with both your pediatrician’s office and your insurance.
- Insurance Information. Keep your insurance card or a copy in your diaper bag, wallet or glove compartment.
- Take a distraction bag. If it’s an emergency where seconds count, just get in the car and go. However, if you can spare a minute, grab a bag and throw a couple toys, books, and/or security blankets or animals your child might need. As I learned from our first ER visit, sometimes you can be there for hours.
- Water and snacks. If you have the luxury of that spare minute, go ahead and throw a water bottle or two and easy snacks in there. Although the nurses at Children’s offered to watch my baby so I could run to the cafeteria to get something to eat and drink, I didn’t want to leave my baby, who I thought at the time had a head injury. But a few hours into our mandatory watch, he and I were both pretty hungry. Fortunately, I had a bottle for him, but my stomach growled until dinner that night.
- Have an emergency account. Emergency room visits are pretty much expected when you have kids. But the eye-opening bills you receive after those ER visits are completely unexpected if you aren’t prepared. Do your whole family a favor and begin saving money in an emergency fund or account today. Even an amount of just $1000 will give you a bit more peace of mind when you are signing all that paperwork.
How about y’all? What are your ER stories and advice?