When my son was nine months old, he swallowed a disc battery. I had seen it the day before, sitting menacingly towards the back of the cabinet under the bathroom sink and thought to myself, “I must remember to get that”. Of course, we had child locks on the cabinet, but my son was some sort of super baby and could open them (He could also open the baby gate that was guaranteed until two years old…). That morning, having completely forgotten about the battery, I was washing my face and turned for about two seconds to dry my face on the towel hanging on the back of the door. I turned around and slow motion ensued: I could hear myself shouting “no” for far too long and it felt like it took a year to take the two steps necessary to get to where he sat, happily staring me straight in the eye as the battery slipped into his mouth.
For a split second, I was relieved. “Phew,” I thought, “He didn’t choke. He swallowed it”. Then, realization. He swallowed a battery. That can’t be good. Then I did the worst thing a mother can do in any situation ever: I Googled it. If you are reading this and you are a new mother, please, take this advice: Never. Google. Anything. Ever. Seriously, get someone else to do it. I’ve since had my mom look things up for me, or my husband even. It’s not worth the stress. Within two entries, I was sobbing on the floor and holding him, imagining the battery turning on and electrocuting him from the inside (which, apparently is a real thing) or it having gotten stuck on its way down and burning a hole in his esophagus (also, real).
In the end, neither of those things happened. But we did have to go to the hospital, where they drugged him, gave him an endoscopy and we had to stay the night. Looking back on it, it was the best possible way to end that scenario. The top endoscopist in the country even happened to be at the hospital that day, so he was able to perform the procedure. At the time, however, it seemed the scariest thing in the entire world. My husband and I clung to each other sobbing the entire day. I will never in my life forget the X-ray that showed us just how pressing of a procedure it was: the battery took up most of his stomach and looked monstrous in there.
So we obviously have gotten completely overly-protective and paranoid about batteries, right?
Fast forward two and a half years (more or less) to yesterday. I decide that it’s okay to go to the bathroom and leave my eight month old and three year old (the battery survivor) in their room just up the hall. I leave the door open and instruct the boy to come get me if she was bothering him, etc, thinking the worst thing that could happen would be the little one would grab his trains, he would scream and cry, possibly push her and they would both be crying upon my return. I was half right. He was playing trains and she did try to grab them.
The boy comes running into the bathroom saying, “Look! Thomas is broken!” and sure enough, his motorized Thomas the Tank Engine was broken. Not surprising, as the day before he had a few friends over and they discovered this lovely game of running up and down the hall shrieking as loudly as possible and throwing his trains. Then I noticed the battery was missing. “Oh no! Thomas IS broken,” I say, calmly, “But where is the battery?”. “Izzy’s eating it!” he exclaims, obviously finding it funny.
Panic. “Go get it from her!” I scream, “Go get the battery!”. The little genius runs to the kitchen and attempts to open the cupboard where we keep the new batteries (one of the last cupboards with a working child lock, thankfully). So I jump up (pants around my ankles, of course, because everything has to happen while mom is in the bathroom, right?!) and run to her. She’s happily crawling around at the end of the hall with no battery in sight. I search all around: nothing.
“Impossible”, I think to myself. After all, this isn’t a disc battery. This is a AA battery. She can’t have swallowed it. Especially without making any noise or gagging and throwing up. “Impossible”, I think again.
After repeatedly quizzing my son about what actually happened (who had lost all interest and was not even answering my questions in any coherent way), I promptly forget all about it until my husband comes home and I double check with him. “Impossible”, he says. I text my mom. “Impossible”, she says.
I relax on the sofa and forget about it. Until about 10:00 PM when she suddenly wakes up screaming, obviously uncomfortable. She is straightening her legs, kicking them out, screaming in pain and not nursing. All I can hear, besides her screams, is my little boy’s voice: “Izzy’s eating it!”.
And of course, I lose it. My husband is asking me what we should do and what I think, still declaring it impossible, and all I can think of is never seeing this little girl again. So I find out exactly how I handle a worst-case-scenario: horribly.
Still thinking it impossible, we call an ambulance (which seemed a bit much, but as we don’t have a car and taking the train seemed a bit too relaxed, it was our only option). At this point, of course, she stops screaming. And from the moment we call, through the entire ambulance ride, the check-up, the X-ray, and the taxi back home, she is happy as a clam, chatting away with the “hunky” EMTs (my husband’s word, though they truly were) and “dadada”ing her way around the hospital, waving to all and sundry. I’m pretty sure they all thought I was mental.
But I could still hear my son’s voice and so I just had to know for sure.
In the end, of course, it was nothing. We still cannot find this battery, but it isn’t inside her. At one point, though, when I told the doctor that my son had swallowed a battery before, I immediately regretted it, thinking he would instantly initiate an investigation with the German CPS and they would take my children from me because I was inept, incompetent – who has TWO children swallow batteries?
Well, thankfully, not me.