Tuesday, May 1, 2012

That Mum

Last night I accidentally gave my new baby girl an overdose of paracetamol.

I wasn't overtired. I wasn't watching TV. I wasn't drunk or under the influence of drugs. I wasn't being distracted by small children. I wasn't rushing.  I checked the dosage on the box. Twice.

Yet somehow, I managed to draw up twice the correct dose and it wasn't until hours later that I realised what I had done.

She seems fine, but it scares me how easy it was.

Earlier that day I had taken her for her two month jabs, and as the nurse had warned, her temperature began creeping up in the evening.  We made the decision to give her some Panadol before bed.

It was a couple of hours later while I was lying in bed that the image of the syringe came into my head.  Her required dose was 0.6 to 0.9ml.  I had a physical memory of drawing up 2ml and then squeezing out only 0.3ml.  I had given her 1.7ml, double what I was supposed to.

I bolted downstairs to admit my mistake to my husband.  Though I hesitated first.  I felt so stupid.  It's not as though I haven't given my kids medicine before.  How could I make such a major mistake, so easily? The difference between a safe dose and a dangerous dose of paracetamol, between lowing a temperature and destroying the liver is remarkably small.

It's easy to quickly judge and make assumptions when you hear awful stories about kids getting injured or dying when their parents were momentarily distracted.  Answering a phone and leaving a pram unattended. Leaving the baby in the bath while you dash to the laundry for a dry towel.  Turning around to grab nappies and leaving a baby on the change table.  I've done it - told myself that there was no way I could allow myself to be that mum, that I would always be vigilant.

Turns out it is all too easy to be that mum.


  1. your so right many parent's have been there, I've done it when all 3 of my smalls got sick at the same time, I stuipedly timed all the medication doses so they recieved them together, bad idea, sleep deprivation mixed with 3 different weight ratio's and liquid measurements, recipe for disaster. Safe to say their fine and I spent the next hour after realising my said mistake on the phone to the NSW health hotline.
    Never a dull moment with parenting :)

  2. Somewhat fortunately for me, my young man vomits at the slightest whiff of paracetamol so I have never feared an overdose ... (fortunately he never complains about anything so he's basically just drug-free!) - but I can totally imagine doing the same, especially if sleep-deprived or distracted - but yes even in good condition. Scary, hey, but I'm glad she's OK.


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