Wednesday, 3 October 2012

When I had to face I was a terrible mum

This is a tale of gut dropping, guilt infecting fear.  My worst moment as a mum hands down.
I picked the girls up from nursery and during the “mad half hour” (as my mum calls it) when they run around like over tired crazed dirt balls, I noticed something odd in Itchy’s mouth.  After asking nicely to open her mouth, then being authoritative, pleading and then finally wrestling her and prising her jaw apart, I saw a horrific site – black dots at the top of her teeth and some more under her gums.
My mouth went dry, I felt physically sick and froze.  Could my daughter really have tooth decay at 18 months?  A whole load of images I’d once seen of tooth decay, and filed as “not likely”, were jumping up in my mind and mocking me.  They were saying “we warned you and you ignored us”, “you thought only neglected children got this way”, “you’re a terrible mum and everyone is going to know it”.
I couldn’t move.  The girls were full of beans, happily and innocently racing around and I couldn’t connect to them, or any positive feeling for that matter.  I wanted time to rewind to 2 minutes ago before this black fog had descended.
First came the shock, quickly followed by shame.  How could I have done this to them?  Oh God, they’ll have noticed at nursery, they’ll be talking about me.  I’ve neglected my daughter.  I’ve been so stupid.  What will my friends think?  My family?  What about when other kids notice?  They can be so cruel. My husband’s going to kill me.  Free falling.
I eventually pulled my led body off the floor and paced the room.  The first thing I did was call my sister who was a medic in the navy and who I use instead of NHS Direct (who I’ve found to be about as useful as a knitted nappy). She didn’t answer.  Shit, she’s usually my lifeline in these situations.  So I called the health visitor, then promptly hung up before they answered because well...knitted nappies comes to mind again.  My next call was to a dentist, who couldn’t fit us in for a few weeks.  Oh the shame of explaining the problem brought on crimson cheeks and that sick feeling again.  Booked the appointment.
How the hell did this happen?  Scratchy is fine and she eats/drinks the same stuff.  They have very watered down juice and hardly any sweets, but I do put them to bed with a bottle which you’re advised against...which they chuck out of the cot as soon as they’ve finished.  So I don’t really see the difference between that and drinking it down stairs.
I grab her tooth brush try brushing off the black marks in desperatation...surprisingly the stuff on the tooth does come off.  Weird.  But the black under the gum is still there.  Ok, maybe it’s not as bad as all that.  If it can come off that easily perhaps the dentist must be able to do something to help.
My sister calls me back.  Thank God.  I explain the problem with shaking hands and a wobbly voice.  She’s slipped into “Medic” mode and goes through all sensible scenarios.  She asks what drinks have I been giving them?  I tell her and even admit to that one carton of Ribena they had when we’d forgot their cups once. (Ok, two)  She then asked if perhaps Itchy had fallen at nursery.  I explain that it’s definitely not a bruise - it’s as black as my spiralling mood.  And this is why I both love my sister and why I call her for advice.  She sighed and asked in a manner only reserved for dealing with crazy people – “has Itchy been eating black crayons again”?
Um.  Oh.  Ahhhhh.  Yes I believe she has.  In fact I saw her with a black crayon the day before.  “You nutter” came her reply.  I may be a nutter, but I was the happiest, most relieved nutter in the world at that moment.  Like getting off from a prison sentence.
And sure enough, the black under the gums promptly disappear after a few days.  She’s been checked by the dentist and all is fine.  It was crayon.  Beautiful, tooth staining crayon.   I may be up for that Mediocre Mum Award after all.
I have used this experience to start introducing a sippy cup at bedtime instead, watering down their juice even more and making sure they brush their teeth twice every day.  It was a positive scare, and one I hope never returns for real.  Crisis averted.  I now watch through my fingers, waiting for the next one.

1 comment:

  1. My son had sudden and terrible vomiting when he was about three, for no apparent reason until the next day when he confessed "I did eat blue play doh at pre school" - the home made stuff with buckets of salt in so they don't want to eat it...

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