Updated: Nov 21, 2020
It was a bright and sunny morning May 15th, 2007 as I walked into the Mississauga hospital 9 days late, with my first baby boy to be induced to give birth. That boy was stubborn, and he wanted to stay inside forever. After only one round of gel to help dilate my cervix, and 2 hours of walking the hospital grounds, I was finally admitted at 3 to 4 cm dilated. Never had I given birth before but thought I knew everything seeing as I was an avid fan of research and Mom groups and everything in between. The second that epidural was offered to me I said hell yeah. Truth be told I didn't even know what a contraction felt like I hadn't even felt one yet. “I know you're thinking lucky me huh?” Back in 2007, the epidural was quite intense, and it completely numbed me from the upper waist down to my toes. Completely dead weight, I felt nothing. This was in no way like any other births or labors I had heard about. After 13 hours of anxiously waiting the nurse finally said ‘okay it's time to start pushing.” “Great!” I said how do I do that? I mean I couldn't lift my legs on my own, I couldn't feel the need to push, I couldn't even tell if I was having a contraction. I found myself looking at the monitor every time the line went up to tell me I was having a contraction, so I knew when to start trying to push. Was I pushing? I don't know, "I think so." After an exhausting two and a half hours of mindlessly pushing, and pushing, and pushing I finally delivered my baby boy. He came out at 2:23 a.m. at a whopping 9 lb 4 oz he was huge. I remember I had family everywhere my dad, my mom, my grandma, my son's dad, his mom, my dad's girlfriends, my friend Shannon, my cousin Shandy and that's all I can remember for now. Devin was a great baby, hardly cried, slept great. I just loved him and couldn't get enough of those beautiful fat cheeks. It was him and I against the world, I mean his dad was there too, but between him working it was just Devin I most days. As Devin grew older and turned into a toddler, walking and talking, and all that fun stuff.
Devin always had to know how everything worked and he had to get our attention somehow, regardless of how that was. Now you should know, his father and I met when I was pretty young. 16 in fact, our relationship was chaotic, to say the least. We fought daily and I don't mean just bickering, I mean full on grappling, hitting, screaming, and pushing, hell it was everything. No, don't think that it all came from him because I got quite a few good shots in there myself. Like the first time I got angry with him, my first instinct was to grab the pole from the vacuum, you know the extension pole? I hit him with it. Instantly I felt regret and guilt, as he sat there grabbing his arm screaming out in pain. I panicked and called my dad. " Oh my god dad I don't know what I just did but I think I broke his (my ex) arm." I had never been in a fight like that with someone before, I had no clue what to do. I knew I loved the guy but at that moment... did I? This type of behavior went on quite regularly. Yes, I do know it's not healthy, we're getting to that.
Back to my son. One of the first scariest moments I ever had as a FTM was the day Devin's father and I were arguing in our bedroom and Devin came running to us with a mouthful of white pills "look Mommy I have candy!" As I took a quick look at him, I instantly realized what he had done, I knew where he had gotten the pills. He had gotten out of a full bottle of Tylenol 3s, that I had placed on top of an 8-ft entertainment unit. No word of a lie, the entertainment unit was 4 in from the ceiling. Now tell me how does a toddler manage to get that down? "well perhaps if I had been paying better attention to him, instead of fighting with his father maybe I would have known." In a panic, I start smacking Devin's back, as I lean him forward trying to get him to spit out as many as possible, without any going down. I remember even putting my finger down his throat, to make sure I could pull out any that might be trying to go down. Now I'm rushing around the house freaking out, scared as hell demanding my son's father that he rush to the emergency room as soon as possible. As we arrive at the emergency room. I'm in complete tears, I'm shaking, and I'm scared. I can barely get the words out, as I'm trying to explain to the triage nurse what happened. The first thing they asked me, "How did he get the pills?" In tears, I just start saying how I was fighting with my boyfriend and I don't know how he got them. I explained I had them up high, and I thought I had put them away high enough that he couldn't get to them. I was a first-time mother, "How on Earth would I know he could reach those?" The nurse rushed us into a room and took care of us right away. The first thing they did was give us a large white Styrofoam cup full of black charcoal. To put into perspective how thick it is, it's like having a yogurt smoothie in viscosity and is as large as a venti coffee from Starbucks. I look at the nurse and say "you want me to get him to drink that? He's three. I can barely get him to eat his dinner." Yep, that's what she wanted. "I'll give you a straw maybe that will make things easier." The nurse says to me. "Ya okay" so here I am in this small 8x8 room, with my 4-year-old son, and my son's father who I hate even more right now because somehow at this moment it's all his fault. How? I don't know, but I had to blame somebody. I tried everything to get that charcoal into him I tried convincing him it was candy, I tried scaring him into thinking that he would die if he didn't drink it, no word of a lie there was charcoal on the floor, the ceiling, the curtains, on myself, his father, on the nurse and all over him. I'd say by the time the cup was finished, he may have drunk a quarter of it. I remember begging the nurse to just put him out, and feed him the charcoal through a feeding tube. I swear at this point they were just punishing me. Hadn't this poor child been through enough! Now, we had to wait at least an hour to see how the charcoal had worked. In the meantime, I could hear the nurses whispering behind their desk asking what the kid was in for, and why there was charcoal everywhere. I could hear them saying, he's in for an OD. I was so embarrassed, I felt like the worst person, and mother on Earth. How could I let this happen to my baby boy? Next came the fun part, "Oh did you think that was it?" Devin now had to have blood work to make sure all the medication had come out of his system. Now, we have to hold down a screaming toddler while they try, over and over, to take blood. I'm certain they gave me a newbie for a nurse, cuz she couldn't find a vein of her life depended on it. After trying three times, she called in another person to help. This felt like the longest 10 minutes of my life, watching my child cry in pain, and in fear my heart ached and there was nothing I could do to help. All I could do was just watch in disbelief, and shame that I was a horrible mother, and I didn't deserve to have such a precious baby boy. Until today, I've only told this story to very few people out of shame, embarrassment, and the fear of being judged. But I thought there's a lot of first-time parents out there, who probably think like I did, and have medication sitting somewhere that would never cross their mind that their children might get it. Teach your children the importance of not touching your medications, lock them up like Fort Knox. This is not a joke, we got extremely lucky. I'm sure there are others out there who weren't so lucky. I'm sharing this with you because I want to create awareness about the importance of educating your children about the safety of all medication. I hear a lot of people say my child loves the taste of Advil, and children's Tylenol. well of course they're meant to taste good so that our children will take them when they're sick, makes sense. We need to explain to them that unless mommy or daddy gives it to them we never touch it. After the blood work came in, it had been determined that Devin had consumed at least one Tylenol 3. The biggest concern in all this is, that the codeine and those medications are poisonous to the liver especially in children. Their livers cannot process the codeine, and it's very toxic to them. Thankfully at the end of it, all Devin was fine, his liver is slightly damaged from that incident, but nothing that has affected him throughout his life. Today I now have four children, and Devin has taught me a lot about parenting. Medication is never kept in my medicine cabinet, or anywhere my kids have access to it. When someone visits my house who takes medication, I immediately ask them to give it to me so I can put it in a safe place. Regardless of what it is, I will never make that same mistake again.
Author- April Mortimer
November 11 2020
Devin 13 years old. (Isn't he handsome?)