x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Time to equip ourselves to keep baby safe

A few weeks ago, Baby A fell off the bed. It was perhaps the most horrifying moment of my life.

A few weeks ago, Baby A fell off the bed.

It was perhaps the most horrifying moment of my life: hearing the dull thud as her little body made contact with our plush rug and then her sharp intake of breath before she let out a wail to rival all others. I didn't know her lungs had it in them.

I had turned for a fraction of a second , 100 per cent sure that she wasn't fast enough - or crafty enough - to make it from the middle of our king-size bed to the scary edge. I should have known better; that edge is scary for me, but for her, it's yet one more area to discover, one more adventure to embark on. She must have dived straight to it the second I allowed my eyes to wander.

I didn't have it in me to console her as she wailed; I could barely manage to breathe, I was shaking, nausea hit and vomitting ensued. And as I tried gasping for breath between the heaving sobs that had taken over my reason and logic, I tried to communicate to Mr T that we had to rush to hospital right now and make sure I hadn't marred my child for life. Thankfully, he's a lot more grounded and rational than I am, and quickly reached the conclusion that if anyone was harmed by the ordeal, it was me, and not poor Baby A.

Baby A's wails eventually simmered down to hiccupy squeaks as she burrowed deeper into our arms, distracted less by the bump on her forehead and more by the freakishly strange way her mother was acting, I'm sure. My panic did not abate. The naked terror I felt had an almost vice-like grip, and spent the night racked with guilt and a slave to insomnia. What if, my mind tormented me. What if she had got seriously hurt? What if she had broken a bone? What would I have done if she had really needed help?

The decision to register for a parental first aid course for infants and children was an easy one to make. The Perfect Help, a recruitment, training and household management company that also offers first aid and paediatric emergency response training for parents and nannies, runs three-hour courses. I plan to make the trek to Dubai to arm myself with the common sense and knowledge required to get through any possible emergencies with Her Dictatorship.

Mr T is all for the decision. "I didn't expect you to be the type to panic like that," he said to me after the Incident That Shall Not Be Mentioned Ever Again. "You need to get ahold of yourself when something like that happens, otherwise how will you be there for Baby A?"

Excellent question. Because here's the thing: it's my job to keep her safe, and it's pretty obvious that I'm not fully equipped to do my job to the best of my abilities.

Sometimes, it seems like becoming a mother meant giving birth not only to my funny, little girl, but also to a strange, helpless tendency to panic and lose all reason when it comes to the idea that she might be in some sort of discomfort, or hurting, or in pain.

I never want to feel so helpless again. First aid and CPR courses are not just for the nannies and maids tasked to look after young children. They're just as important for the parents climbing that steep learning curve, trying to figure out how to do it right.



Hala Khalaf is deputy Arts&Life editor at The National