Friday, August 22, 2014

A Child Life Specialist's Apology to Parents

As a child life specialist, I supported parents in their decision to accompany their child to a procedure or not.  Outwardly I would put on my most empathetic face and reassure each parent that they were making the best decision for their family, although on the inside I never truly understood a parent who refused to be with their child during a painful procedure.  I faked it, I knew exactly what to say and I would never make a parent feel bad, but secretly I wanted to tell that parent to just suck it up and then I was thrown into their shoes.  For something as minor as shots, I found myself eyeing the door wishing I could run away until it was all over.  I held her little hands so the nurse didn't have to and told her everything would be ok except I knew it would hurt and that the rest of her day would be difficult because of a decision I made.  She needed the vaccines and it was for her own good, but none of that meant anything when she screamed out in pain and I had to wait for two more pokes before I could pick her up and attempt to comfort her.

So to the parent who didn't want to be in the room for that painful procedure, I am sorry.  I'm sorry I judged you and thought I knew what was right.  I'm sorry you even had to make that decision.  And I'm sorry I didn't understand the stress you must have been experiencing.

To the parent who chose to stay in the room, I am sorry.  I'm sorry I assumed you were tough enough to see your baby in pain.  I'm sorry I allowed the hospital to become routine and label procedures as 'easy'.  And I'm sorry I didn't check-in after the procedure to see how YOU were doing after experiencing that pain.


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