Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Brick walls, tiled steps and toddler...

I find myself to be in some state of anxiety pretty much all the time that my twenty three month old son is awake and running around. I was not this way until baby girl (who is now a month old) arrived. I am constantly worried about my little boy's safety. We moved to a two level house early this year - the bedrooms are upstairs and the other rooms are downstairs. There is a fire place with a slightly raised brick platform in front of it and beautiful mantel shelf and large mirror above it. All the rooms down stairs have tiled floors and there are two long tiled steps leading to the small foyer area and outside door. The stairs are carpeted but the floor just below it is tiled.
Every time I sit in the master bedroom to nurse baby girl, my son hangs out talking non stop, bringing things from drawers, jumping up and down the bed, fiddling around with things in the room, throwing baby girl's hat up and down and trying to catch it...and then suddenly he runs out of the room wearing baby girl's blanket over his head saying "Kanume" (peekaboo). And I panic. Right outside the room is the staircase. I tell my mother to keep an eye on my son while I am up in my room nursing baby girl. She waits for some time and sees that my son is busy playing with me inside the room. He is able to open the bedroom door even if I shut it tight or worse still he tries to pull on it and I am afraid he will fall down thud and hurt himself while I am sitting in the bed. So I don't shut the door. I imagine him tumbling down the stair case and landing on the tiled floor below and I feel panic setting in. I scream for my mom and ask her to keep an eye on him. Sometimes if she doesn't hear me I just have to abruptly stop the nursing and run to make sure he is safe and is not wandering around like a little ghost with a blanket over his head.
While he is playing downstairs he runs around the rooms - just runs - round and round - and like Charlie Chaplin goes and rams his big head on the edge of the kitchen cabinet and looks startled and starts crying when he realizes he is in pain. Two days back he ran from one end of the living room to the fire place area screaming "curever, curever" (meaning screw driver) in an excited voice and fell flat on the floor and hit his nose on the brick platform by the fire place. He had three gash marks on his swollen nose for a day - thankfully it has subsided.
I am constantly afraid he will hurt himself badly and I find it stressful to worry about this every time he runs around or when I am upstairs with baby girl unable to fully keep an eye on him. He IS quite careful on the one hand but goes into his own world of thought while climbing up and down the stairs.
Now I must come across as an over protective wimp of a mom. I thought so myself. But the other day a friend, his wife and two children visited us at night. Their son is 16m old and he was running around the house. He was running around playing and suddenly fell down and hit his forehead on the tiled step and was bleeding. They panicked on seeing the deep mark and all that blood. They were ready to go to the ER but the blood flow had stopped and it didn't look serious. My friend was insistent they go to the doctor just in case...his wife was too tired and was worried about the older child having to wait three hours in the ER for a simple cut. It was a simple cut but thankfully so. It could have been something that demanded ER attention. Now my friends say they will not move to a non carpeted house or a bi-level until both their children are a few years old.
This incident has added to my stress levels. I feel as if we are getting lucky each day in escaping with just mild bruises and bumps when kutti boy runs around the house.
When I was a child, the house we were in was a very large house but like a lot of old houses, it was not carefully planned nor child friendly. There were heavy brick steps leading to the dining room and I have had many a fall there.
How do parents in India manage this problem (this is not in any way India bashing - in case it comes across that way!)- or rather this fear? Houses are built of hard bricks and concrete. Much easier for a child to get seriously hurt if he/she bangs on the wall at an angle. No one there seems to be stressed about this issue as much as we here stress out. Are we just being over protective? I am wondering if we should move to another place before baby girl joins her brother in his antics!
I hate this feeling of stress and anxiety all day. I don't seem to be suffering from post partum depression which many people warned me about with both pregnancies. But I was not prepared to feel so anxious about the kid's safety - wondering if all of you go through this also or if am being unduly paranoid?

In response to Moppet's comment:
We do have a gate downstairs for the steps. We cannot have one upstairs - the way the stair case is designed. Even the downstairs gate is not working out a)because if I go up leaving kutti boy downstairs he cries his heart out - makes me feel very bad - especially since I have to nurse every third hour b) he has now started pulling on the gate which is even more dangerous.

Table edges have not been too much of an issue so far - I bought table cushions but it is not fitting into some of the table edges - keeps falling off. We plan to go to Home Depot this weekend and find out if we can carpet the foyer area and the tiled steps alone. Tiled floors are great to keep clean and avoid allergies for the kids.
I am not sure how we can child proof the brick platform near the fire place.

I am really curious how parents deal with this issue in India since you cannot possibly child proof all that brick and stone areas! Of course they learn by falling and it is happening here regardless of my worrying - but I just hope it is stops with minor bruises.


Just Like That said...

I don't think you're paranoid at all- some levels of stress are unavoidable with babies and toddlers and as someone remarked you can't bubble proof your kid 100%.
What I've found with Sonny boy is that he learns from his mistakes, rather falls/hurts. So I wrap him up some, let him learn some, and both of us are the better for it.

Moppet's Mom said...

I can relate to the anxiety - my parents home is a 2 storied, with stone floors and plenty of hard corners for an active toddler to crack her head on. It must be even harder for you since you are not able to keep an eye on your son especially when you're nursing baby girl.

A few suggestions - have you considered a safety gate at the top and bottom of the stairs? And a safety grate around the fire place? You also get these great soft corners that you can stick on to table corners, cabinet edges etc - they may look a little tacky, but they're quite useful.

Moppet's Mom said...

And no, you're not paranoid. In India, when we were growing up, this was rarely an issue because there was usually someone around the kids all the time. That's changing now, though.

DotMom said...

One Step ahead has many child proofing solutions. My son has cut his frehead on the kichen cabinets, had his finger caught badly in the storm door and has fallen on the concrete drive way many, many times.. Its a learning process and all kids tumble down the stairs at one time or another. My friend's baby daughter was 6mo when she tumbled down the stairs onto their hardwood foyer.. they learn..don't fret too much, and boys will be physically more active than girls:)

noon said...

JLT - I let kutti boy run around and climb the steps, step on the stool etc - but when it comes to the stairs and the sharp edges of the tiled steps it gives me the night mare - though I let him be active as much as he wants...

MM - thanks. Responded to your comment in my post. Yes, I think if there were more people in the house I would worry less.

Dotmom - thanks. As I said to JLT - if the place was hard wood instead of tile I would worry less. Or if it was carpeted.
But yes over all I wish I didn't worry so much imagining horrible falls!

Poppins said...

Oh this is something that scares me as well. But luckily I don't have a duplex home, just one level. But we have stone and tiles throughout and there are falls and bruises.

I guess you'll have to make sure to keep him with you behind bolted doors or something till he gets a little older and you a little more free.

Sorry I couldn't be of more help !

noon said...

Hi Poppins - well it's help enough for me when you say you worry about this too...that I am not crazy! Yeah most of the time he is fine and hangs out with me in the room - but if I lock the door I am not even able to nurse in peace because he hates that feeling and wants to run across rooms. And when he does this holding some big item in hand or when he is playing with a ball in his hand - it really stresses me out.

Something to Say said...

Home Depot, Ikea - all have these rubber edges that you can put on tiled steps. So even if he falls (god forbid) the chances of getting cuts are small. Yes, tiled surfaces are gr8 for cleaning - and you can get heavy rugs for the stair landing - if u dont want carpets - rugs can be washed far more effectively than carpets cleaned.
Why not make baby nursing time - a time for painting or coloring - so he can sit next to you and do some work while you nurse yur baby in peace?

noon said...

Thanks STS, we are planning to get some edge cushions - it is hard to find ones that fit well in our tiled steps the way it is designed.
Actually I was more curious if others too face this kind of anxiety! Esp in India..

DotMom said...

I guess in India, there is no dearth of manpower. there is always someone around to watch your kid..

Vidhur said...

First time here. And I don't think u are overtly-anxious.Motherly instincts are always alert to danger. In India, the sheer number of people looking out for the kids, keeps them somewhat safe. The grandparents, maids, neighbours...But Can you consider, feeding the little one downstairs? Maybe you can have a basket of her diapers, clothes and such that you can keep downstairs. Children do sometimes fall down stairs and since they have flexible body, generally do not get hurt. But it is better to avoid, such a happening, isn't it? Do take care :)

the mad momma said...

well we have the same gap between the babies and the same problems - with bean born when brat was 22 months. i have now begun to make sure that there is nothing he can damage in bedroom and when i lie down to feed her, i lock him into the room with us. that way he can only do stuff in front of me, none of it too dangerous. if i lock him out he is up to mischief and eventually cries piteously at the door. i try to sit him down with a book or toy next to me and read or play while i feed her. its almost like gymnastics, but we manage somehow. i feel for you!

noon said...

Hi Vidhur
Thanks for dropping by...As of now not convenient to feed downstairs because I don't find it comfortable on the floor or on the soft couch. I sit on the corner of our bed and have the boppy pillow so my back is erect. Don't want to end up with back pain sitting in a bad posture...
Yes people strength in India...lacking here for sure.

MM - tell me about it - juggling act/gymnastics indeed! Kutti boy also is hanging out with us when I am nursing - he doesn't want to be any place else - but he knows to open the door even if I lock it - makes me more nervous because he stretches up to open the door and pull hard on it...but yes, I think I shoudl try that more often.

Anonymous said...

noon, in addition to all the problems you have mentioned we live in a split level house. that means the ground floor is split into 2 levels and the first floor is split into 2!

no 2 bedrooms are on the same level - so i can never put my children to bed in another room than us! (even though they want to sleep in their own room!!!)

well i worry my head off too and crib my heart out too and curse the architect from the bottom of my heart EVERY single day. (it helps a bit, but not much!)


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