How my 2-year-old daughter took an insulin shot and I realized I am a bad mommy

One fine evening last week, Avanee was eating rice with me as we watched our favorite show on television. (No, it wasn’t CBeebies; it was a regional Marathi serial that is probably inappropriate for her age but she likes to see the old grandmother in it…there I go justifying myself again.) We polished off a plate and I went into the kitchen to put the plate in the sink. Barely five minutes later, when I returned, I found myself flung into this scenario:

  1. The baby-proof lock on the side table of my bed was unlocked and the drawer was open.
  2. Avanee stood next to it, my (old albeit undiscarded) Insulin syringe in her hand. The needle was bent, the cartridge loaded to about 40 units.
  3. “Tuchuk, bau-bau!” she said the moment she saw me and proudly displayed a red spot on her tummy where she had pricked herself.

It is a miracle that I did not faint. And it is a mercy that my pediatrician lives just a few floors below me. On the phone, he first told me to rush her to the hospital immediately. Meanwhile, I had shoved a couple of tablespoonfuls of jaggery in her mouth and called MK. We took her downstairs to see the doctor, who told us to keep checking her sugar levels every hour of the night and to rush her to hospital if the levels dropped below 70. We called my diabetologist who said the same thing. Mercifully, we could spare her the trauma of going to the hospital. But all of that night, between fighting tears and murmuring prayers to a god I had forgotten all about, I pricked my daughter’s fingers every hour until a globule of blood emerged so I could stick a strip in it and wait for the meter to show me three-digit figures. MK held me all night while he brushed Avanee’s lips with honey that she licked in her sleep. When 12 hours finally passed, we heaved a sigh of relief and informed the grandparents that everything was alright.

She probably had not injected any insulin considering that the mechanism of the pen is difficult for a toddler to operate. Besides, she might have been shocked at the prick itself. But I can’t help thinking:

  1. Should I have kept the insulin (or any other medicines) at such a low level?
  2. Shouldn’t I have made sure I discarded the cartridges and needles from all the pens once I was put off insulin?
  3. Would this ever have happened if I was healthy enough not to need insulin or any other medication?
  4. Couldn’t I have just shut the door to the bedroom?

It has been over a week since this happened and yet, I cannot bring myself to sleep at night. It gives me the shivers to think about that moment again and I have been resisting writing about it (who likes to be judged like that?) but I have realized (once again) that writing on the blog liberates me. So here I am, a horrible, horrible mother but a very earnest one all the same.

May this never happen to any child or any mother.

P.S.: Thank you, god.

Comments (7)

  1. Anonymous March 14, 2012 at 6:28 am

    OMG!! Thank God she is ok. You are NOT a horrible mother!!! It was a mistake and one learns from it. I remember a lady who forgot her daughter in the car seat and went shopping when she realized 3hrs later, the kid had already passed away. In my eyes she is not a horrible mother. We can judge her all we want but at the end of the day she lost her kid ;( My husband when he heard this said 'omg how could she forget?' next day he brought groceries and came home forgetting the groceries in the trunk. And of course I said, "omg how could you?"

    And these kids man I tell you they always are 2 steps ahead of us. My 19mo learnt to stand on a stool and open the hot water tap and fill it in his cup and pour it all on the floor. I took the stool and put it on top of a suitcase pile (we have no cupboards and we are moving the house is a mess). He kept saying wahh wahh stool stool. I said its gone and distracted him with some toy. I went in to the kitchen to check something, I could hear water running, the little bugger had taken the stool and turned on the tap. He had managed to somehow move the suitcases and let the stool fall!! And he always once a week at least manages to burn his finger trying to reach a hot vessel on the stove. He hasn't crawled into the oven yet dunno when that is going to happen.
    Don't beat yourself up Saee. You are awesome mom and if it makes you feel a lil better I watch a show-real housewives of atlanta/orange county etc with my kiddo. There is no granny only crazy women who bitch and fight all the time :D.
    Loads of hugs and kisses to Avanee.

    PS- what is tuchuk, bau-bau?

  2. Anonymous March 14, 2012 at 7:15 am

    I can't imagine what you must have gone through. Every prick in her tiny finger must've been like a stab in ur heart. I couldnt help getting tears in my eyes as I read this post. Tight Hugs to you for being so brave and strong Saee!

    And no, this does not make you a horrible mother, children often land up in unthinkable situations and it takes a good mother to get them out of it, much like a captain getting his ship out of a storm. Mostly, its how you handle such testing times that truly shows what a good mom you really are…think about it.

    The feeling of mommy's guilt will take its own time to fade and there shall be many proud mommy moments in future that shall confirm your belief in your motherly instincts.

    It takes a big mommy's heart to have the courage and love to share this with other mommy's so they can avoid such a thing from happening. If you care so much for other children, tells us how much you care for your own! You are a great mom…no doubts on that!


  3. Anjali March 14, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Hi Saee, I've done worse things when I was a kid and I know it was my fault and not my parents. Don't feel bad about it mistakes happen and parents learn as they grow. Hope you feel better. You sharing this taught me so many things and I am not even a parent but have 3 nephews and 2 nieces who are menaces 😉 and I will always be mindful about not leaving my medicine at low levels when they visit. You take care dear and love to Avanee.

  4. Shireen Sequeira March 14, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Saee, I have to admit that a chill ran down my spine while I was reading your post and I had just gotten off a chat with my best friend who told me that she almost lost her daughter who rushed towards a busy street with speeding cars when her attention was diverted for a fraction of a second. One can never be too careful with toddlers I guess and I think what you went through was just a horrible moment that doesn't make you a horrible mom. I think all of us have been through such bad moments that maybe just a warning for us to be more careful in future. After all we do the best we can for our children and there is always a thin line between genuine unintended mishaps and downright negligence. I guess the only people who will judge you and call you a bad mom will be those who either don't have kids or those who rely completely on house help/other help to raise their kids. I do hope you feel better by now. Take care!!

  5. Sayantani March 14, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Thank God she is fine Saee and please dont beat yourself too much. this is why a word called accident exists in the dictionary. this is when everything goes wrong…and trust me not all kids will do the same thing as your daughter. most of them would be scared of the needle. all that matters now is she is fine. take good care of her and yourself. you are a great mother.

  6. My attempt at The Julie/Julia project March 14, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    You are NOT a horrible mother… accidents happen… dont beat yourself up dear!!! be glad she is ok… once more it is not your fault… I can't even imagine what you are going thru but i can just say to be strong… all these obstacles make us strong… 🙂 take care !!!

  7. Priya Sreeram March 15, 2012 at 5:34 am

    Definitely no judging you saee- we are all but human but yes shudder at the possibilities of what could have gone wrong ! I am reminded of a few incidents with my kid that could have gone worse; thank god for all the mercies. Of course it takes time to shed the fear u & ur hubby must have had for those few hours. ur angel is blessed to have a great mom

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