Friday, February 8, 2013

Triage Parenting

I'm told that normal parents, when faced with more children in the home than adults, sometimes make their parenting choices based on who needs help or attention the most at that moment.

It's like going to the ER (which we've done 4 times in the last 6 weeks) - you walk in the front door, and they take some time to figure out how bad your situation is so they can figure out whether to take you right back to a bed and get busy at keeping you alive, or whether you can wait for a bit while they take care of those more urgent cases.


I should note that having a trach moves you much closer to the head of the line, no matter what's actually wrong - see that last post about it making people nervous. And if you walk into an ER with someone with a trach who is wheezing? Yeah....straight back to a bed, even if it takes them hours to actually get you out of the ER and into the regular hospital.


When you're dealing with medically fragile children, the power balance shifts - sometimes it's not enough to put one adult on one child and hope for the best - sometimes a child's care requires 2 or even 3 people to manage things.

And in those cases, your heart breaks for the choice, but you do what you must do.

So it is at our house this past week. When we just had one child, we could fairly easily trade off time at the hospital with Acorn, while the other parent worked or slept or whatever. But when both of our children were in the hospital? It's not so easy.

Acorn was sick, but not sick enough for the ICU. The regular peds floor is a scary place for us - nurses fully expect parents to be there and to do basically everything; they have only the bare minimum of staff to keep an eye on things. Acorn is not the kind of kid who can be trusted to stay out of trouble, even when he's sick, for more than about 10 minutes without supervision.

Leaf was sick too - not sick enough for the ICU, but her ventilator requires her to be there. The ICU has one nurse for every 2 children, lots of monitors, and in Leaf's case, respiratory therapists checking in pretty regularly as they monitor her, switching her from ventilator to trach collar and back again.

And in the grand scheme of things, for all that Leaf is afraid of strangers these days, leaving her alone in the PICU was the best choice - safe, contained, and well cared for. I needed sleep desperately after the all night wait in the ER. Acorn needed supervision. My husband needed to go in to work today for a meeting. And thought it broke my heart every time we left her there, we knew she was in good hands.

On the plus side, Acorn is now home (though with oxygen and nebulizers). On the minus side, that means that if one of us is working, there's only one of us to manage 2 children who are in 2 different places. Again, painful. But necessary for the moment. We'll all be home together soon.

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