Maybe it's her experience...
Maybe it's her comedic personality...
Whatever it is, I want some of what makes her so courageous. Today J had a smile on her face for her labs at the hospital. And I mean through the needle poke, the blood draw, and the band aids. She smiled at the sweet ladies helping to hold her down. They had the easiest job in the hospital because J didn't struggle, move or make a sound. She just sat quietly, smiling.... and told them she was going to get a hot chocolate after she was done. What a girl!
J is 3 years old (almost 4) and I'm finding that medical procedures and hospital visits are really a piece of cake. We, her parents, are so used to the IV's, surgery prep, xrays, anesthesia, and the hospital waiting game. One thing that hasn't gotten easier over the years is how we prepare J for what is going to happen. As she gets older, I have to explain what is going to happen in terms she will understand. I long for the days as an infant, I could just nurse her when she was stressed or in pain or confused (and every moment in between...she loved to nurse!!!) Before she was verbal, no explanation was needed about where we were headed. We would strap her in her car seat and she would enjoy some pleasant dream-filled sleep before waking at Shriner's. She would happily walk, skip and jump from the car down corridors filled with other patients, medical equipment and scary people in scrubs. Frightening for most adults! Ignorance was bliss!
Our conversations now are limited to what she is able to understand. But unlike during her infancy, we are forced to have an actual conversation. A young child isn't going to understand much about future events so I wait until the day of to inform her of a procedure or office visit. No need to tell her the day before and ruin a nice slumber. Sometime before we are ready to get into the car, I start to talk about what will happen.
"We are going to the doctors soon."
"They need to make sure you are okay."
This is the kind of thing I told J before her blood draw. It wasn't until we were sitting outside of the lab, that I explained the rest.
"The doctor is going to need to see your arm. It will be very quick and then you'll leave with a band aid."
There was a worried look on her face when she realized a band aid meant owie so I followed it up with the all important bribe...
"And then I'll get you a hot chocolate and I have a new toy for you in the car. Would you like hot chocolate?"
OHSU and Doernbecher Children's Hospital have very good guidelines for preparing a child for a hospitalization or medical procedure.
Preparing Your Child
I will definitely use this guide the next time J heads to the hospital. This list of books may be all a parent needs to provide that preparation.
Going to the Hospital, Anne Civardi and Stephen Cartwright
A Visit to the Sesame Street Hospital, Random House/Children's Television Workshop
Pooh Plays Doctor, K.W. Zoehfeld
One Bear in the Hospital, C. Bucknall
Going to the Hospital, Fred Rodgers
Franklin Goes to the Hospital, Sharon Jennings
Corduroy Goes to the Doctor, L. McCue