As I type this post I can look back and laugh… nervously.
Though it was no laughing matter when 2 days ago my 18 month old came thundering into the living room like the devil was on her heels. Her face was panic stricken and she gave an almighty retch. A sleek jet of purple fluid spewed from her mouth and splattered across the wood flooring.
My immediate thought was, there is no way on God’s green earth that anyone’s vomit should be such a dainty shade of lilac. I rushed to her, horrified.
That was when I smelled it. Jasmine and lavender.
I yelled for my parents and sister who whisked my crying, red-faced toddler into the hallway. The purple vomit kept pouring out of her, flecked with curdles of the pasta she’d had for dinner and the yogurt for dessert. I flew to the kitchen to find the carton of detergent liquitabs we kept under the kitchen sink.
There was one left.
I flipped the box over, heart thudding in my chest, fear rising in my throat. “IF SWALLOWED SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY.”
I had 999 on the phone within seconds. “Police, fire, or ambulance?” a much calmer voice inquired. “A-a-ambulance?” I stuttered. The dispatcher reeled off a list of questions: was she breathing? turning funny colours? did she recognise us?
Yes, no, yes, I answered, and was told to wait as the ambulance would be arriving shortly. I hung up with tears coursing down my cheeks.
By the time the ambulance arrived, my little adventurer had upchucked just about every drop of her stomach contents. Vile detergent included. The paramedics decided to take us in to the A&E just to have her checked out as a precaution. As my sister and I sat in the waiting room with a very fresh smelling and much more lively kiddo on my lap, other parents regaled us with tales of the oddities their own children had swallowed:
A bag of mothballs, a cup of bleach, a full bottle of shampoo, an entire box of Lemsip Max capsules, and a 2p coin which required the Heimlich maneuver.
I felt a little less bad after that. A little.
Finally the nurse called us through. She took Zoie’s pulse, checked her oxygen levels then quipped, “Oh my son drunk that stuff twice. You look away for just a moment and then…” She shrugged and smiled. “It happens,” she sighed. A few minutes later the doctor came in, listened to her chest, felt her tummy, and had a peek down her throat. All was clear. We were free to go home. “So you’re going to rethink how you store that stuff from now on?,” he inquired. “Absolutely,” I replied as we bundled up our stuff and headed out of the hospital and into the chilly midnight air.
So my little one snacked on a laundry liquitab and lived to tell the tale. It was really an awful experience, one I pray never repeats. I shudder to think of how much worse the outcome could have been if it had been drain or oven cleaner. Just horrible.
Parenting lesson learned: LOCK the cupboards. Even though we usually keep the one under the sink secure, the one time it was overlooked was the one time she decided to have a taste of the deceptively squishy, sweet smelling, brightly colored detergent capsule.
I will be buying powdered soap from now on.