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Parenting has it’s moments where you kind of think you know what to do, but the anxiety kicks in and self doubt and before you know it you are scrolling google.

Full disclosure: According to Google you are ALWAYS dying.

It was 5pm on a Friday evening and I had just got home from work. Ravey was 1 at this point and we would commute on the busy London trains from the central London hospital I worked at.

I was changing his nappy and was met with an ocean of bright red poo.

What the actual f*@k?

I was a little concerned but the nurse in me thought, he seems fine, I will wait and see it’s probably just something he ate. But then my partner and I started talking about it and doing what all new parents do… catastrophize and GOOGLE it.

Word of advice, NEVER GOOGLE IT.

Our friendly search engine doctor tells us “red poo is a sign of a severe internal bleed and left untreated can be fatal”.


What if it WAS an internal bleed and we ignored it? I’m a children’s nurse after all, I should know better.

Rationally I knew there was absolutely nothing wrong but the niggling fear that I might downplay something that turned out to be serious was enough that eventually at 7pm the guilt won and we headed down to our local A&E.

Have you ever been to A&E on a Friday night? It is carnage.

Paediatric accident and emergency on a Friday night is no better. It’s like a day out for all the family.

There was one entire family of 6 sat eating what could only be described as a banquet. They had Tupperware’s and everything.

We sat there feeling silly, annoyed we had come and subjected ourselves to an evening here, and potentially wasting NHS time. There would obviously be far more unwell children than ours, who was happy as Larry, albeit getting tired and bored!

We waited for ages and eventually got called in to take basic information and do a set of observations. The nurse was kind and reassuring and said that in the absence of other symptoms it was unlikely to be anything to worry about. Baby was well in himself and there had not been any further signs to suggest any bleeding or other sinister cause.

She did his basic observations, including a blood pressure, in which Ravey acted like actual amputation was occuring. No temperature and all other observations normal and we are sent back to the waiting area until a doctor was free.

Another hour of waiting. Staring at the wall. Picking up the token leaflets in the wall about random diseases or ailments.

It’s getting super busy in here now, kids playing with the disease ridden toys, babies crying and the faces of parents slowly losing the will to live.

There is very little to do to keep a toddler occupied. Some pencils and crayons strewn across a table with already coloured in pictures and paper already drawn on by kids who have visited during the day.

A very battered and tired play kitchen with no accessories, a few books and a PlayStation console.

It’s already way past bedtime but Ravey isn’t sleeping as its loud and bright. Si occupies him with some books for a bit but they quickly lose their appeal. Ravey is irritable and we both know he is very quickly going to become a moody wailing mess if he doesn’t sleep soon.

I’m staring at the walls. Looking again and again at the peeling off wall stickers of jungle animals and hot air balloons. At the tattered pictures drawn from children past and the laminated notices to not plug in or use your mobile phone. Everyone is on their phone.

Then the obligatory natzi monitoring of who is getting called in starts. You mentally take note of who arrived first and slowly feel yourself getting internally furious when people are called in who arrived after you.

We finally get called in to see the doc. We can get the all clear and head home. The end is near. We can feel a little foolish and head home knowing all is well and literally never return to A&E again unless a limb is hanging off or something.

The doc is happy, all seems well. They decide to have a quick listen of his chest. There is a quick flash of recognition in his eye. He lingers just a little longer than necessary and places the stethoscope in another location and another.

He has heard a murmur. Wants to get it checked out whilst we are there. We go to over the history. I have a murmur. The kind that’s not dangerous. Si was born with a hole in the heart that self rectified. Some family history. Because of this when I was pregnant Ravey had a prenatal echo, he had one at a month old too to check his heart was structurally sound. No abnormalities detected. But there is a murmur now. This happens sometimes the doctor says. It can develop later. Should get it checked as he has noticed it.

Ravey is well, no sign of cardiac or respiratory difficulty. He feeds well and shows no signs of failure to thrive. Very unlikely to be a problem. Very likely has the same as me. I know it’s going to be fine and we could totally just be referred to a community clinic BUT they want an ECG now. It’s 11pm.
Back to the waiting room.

Now we don’t know whether we are aallowed to be pissed we came or not?!

Nobody gives a toss about the red shit but now we have a potential cardiac issue on our hands! And an ECG? You have to keep real still for that shit to work. And for a good few minutes too.

I’ve spent hours trying to get them done on kids at work before. Ravey will have to be asleep.

There is a kid about 10 years old playing the PlayStation. I’m trying to breastfeed Ravey to sleep. Every time he starts to nod off this kid shouts out some nonsense at the computer screen. The kids dad is sat the other end of the room with his eyes closed. I feel misplaced rage towards this man and his spawn.

It’s not their fault and I don’t know their story, but that kid is getting on my goat and keeping mine awake and the man is getting to rest!? That’s enough for me to project eye daggers at them and hate them inside.

Si notices a small room by the bathroom with a breastfeeding sign on it. It has a nursing chair and changing table. I head in there leaving si outside to keep watch for the return of the doctor.

After a struggle and about 10 minutes Ravey is snoozing whilst feeding. The door opens, the lights ping on bright as ever and a cleaner announces I need to vacate the room so it can be cleaned. Ravey starts screaming. I hold back every part of me that wants to scream at this woman and I leave the room.

Half an hour later I have finally got him back to sleep. A lady emerges with an ECG and she attempts to carry out an ECG on the just gone to sleep Ravey.

But she needs his clothes off! Of course she bloody does!!! I open the poppers of his babygrow and manage to get his legs out. I open the bottom of the vest so she can place the sensor pads on his chest and as she attempts to hook up the leads he wakes and thrashes around, crying and reaching for me.

He is moving too much and pulling the cables. We are sent back to the waiting room to reattempt once we have got him to back to sleep.

Now we are really pissed off and we both know it but neither of us will own it because our child could have a heart problem and what kind of monsters are annoyed at the delay and having to sit in the hospital?

We are sat not speaking, both annoyed at the whole random mess that has unfolded all because of a stupid red poo that nobody has even batted an eyelid over!

The quiet of the now pretty empty waiting room is interrupted by a woman who walks past with her baby. She proceeds to speak to the people at the desk then sits down.

After a while she is called though for the first initial nurse check. A few minutes later a man stumbles into the waiting room. He goes to the desk and is asking after his wife and baby. He explains his battery died but he knew they were heading here.

The person at the desk doesn’t know so I tell him I think they are in with the nurse. The man thanks me very politely looking extremely awkward and sheepish. He looks dishevelled and sways slightly. He smells of beer.

We eventually get the ECG done and move to head home. We have to return for the echo but we aren’t worried. No evidence of any issues it’s likely he has the same as me.

As we walk to leave we pass the couple sat in the waiting area. You can hear their muffled voices as she explains what was wrong with the baby. That she couldn’t get hold of him. Where had he been? He had been due back home hours ago. The guy is clearly wasted and trying super hard to appear totes sober. They had gone to another pub on way back, he says. His phone had died. He didn’t realise until he turned it back on quickly to check messages and saw hers before it died again.

I felt for them. If I were her I would be livid. She was being pretty tame, but I also could imagine the poor dude out with his mates for first time since having the baby. Having one too many and the phone dying. Oh imagine the horror of finding out your partner is taking your baby to A&E. The shame and paranoia talking to the healthcare professionals off your tits. Their evening A&E journey had just begun.

Its coming up to 1am. 8 hours ago Ravey had a red poop and that was an unsolved mystery, but we had emerged with a heart murmur and very skeep deprived.

Sometimes one random discovery leads to another.

Oh, and the poo? When I mentioned it to the nursery on Monday his keyworker said “oh, yes he was eating a crayon on Friday. Yes I think it was a red one actually”
Bloody great. So useful to be finding that out now. Thanks for letting me know.

Images used taken from Pixabay abd unsplash free images

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