There are lots of things I’ve done in my modest life. But there is one thing that still haunts me more than most of them.
My eldest daughter had a febrile convulsion at about 3 years of age. I found out later that a young human body isn’t developed enough to cope properly with high temperatures and in a hot country (we lived in tropical part of Australia, which is hot and wet). If a baby overheats through a fever or exertion they could have convulsions. It roughly like a “fit” or “fainting”.
Naturally, as young parents, my wife rushed off to hospital and I was called at work for an emergency. So far, normal enough for any parent.
While there they wanted to take a blood test which required a needle which needed someone to hold my daughters arm still. My wife wasn’t able to even handle the idea, hurting our baby was too much to handle. So it was up to me.
As I took my daughters arm, she looked into my eyes with complete trust and then the nurse pushed the needle in and went looking for the vein. Finding a vein in a baby isn’t easy, they aren’t very large and not visible through the layers of baby fat.
As my daughter reflexively pulled her arm away from the pain she didn’t take her eyes off mine and her face clearly showed the utter sense of betrayal while I held her arm still. As she burst into tears, her face showed the complete breach of trust was to her young mind. Her other arm was reaching out to touch me.
It was over quickly enough. The nurse did her best and I stood holding my daughters arm with tears streaming down my face. My wife, of course, was also weeping. As a young father, it was a moment I’ll never forget. I’m torn between caring for her welfare and providing the best care for her on one hand. The other hand is that I’m forcing her into pain and betraying her trust. Even today, that look on her face is crystal clear as she realised that I was hurting her.
Holding that arm still while the nurse pushed that needle in and betrayed my daughters trust was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.