poison control

I'm making lunch, strolling around the kitchen, when Gracie comes in and asks for a vitamin. "A yellow vitamin!" We open the bottle of gummy vitamins and look inside. I dump the remaining 15-20 out in my hand. All red. She wants nothing to do with them and saunters off. I apparently forget to put them back on the fridge where she can't reach them, and instead toss the bottle on the counter while I turn my attention back to the stove.

A minute later, Gracie runs back in the kitchen, holding an empty bottle with a mischievous grin. It doesn't even dawn on me that she ate them. Every time she has one, I remind her that she can only have one. More than that could make her sick. She repeats it back and always says "I'll have another one tomorrow." I pound it in her that she can only have one. She's always understands and hasn't pressed for more, not that I trust her at her age--hence the vitamins on the fridge--but I know she grasps the rule I've made clear.

She loves to put things in other things, so I walk in the living room, fully expecting to find the rest of the vitamins in her water cup or a toy or sprinkled all over the couch. I see nothing. I feel my blood pressure spike, the panic setting in.

"Did you eat the rest of the vitamins?"

"I did!" she proudly exclaims.

I start scream-rambling incoherently. Is this how I lose my child? TO AN OVERDOSE? ON GUMMY VITAMINS?!

Is this even bad? My brain immediately replays a lecture from college where my favorite nutrition professor hounded the risks of vitamin toxicity. I know this isn't good. There are warning labels on the bottle! OH MY GOSH SHOULD I GIVE HER THE HEIMLICH? 


"YOU HAVE TO THROW UP GRACIE YOU HAVE TO" I scream to probably a wall while Gracie wide-eyed stares at my hysteria. I call James and then text him in ALL CAPS while I wait for him to answer. I keep watching Gracie, expecting her to drop dead or suddenly become violently ill. Finally, James answers. "GRACIE ATE ALL THE VITAMINS LIKE 10 PROBABLY 20 WHAT DO I DO WILL SHE DIE" I bellow into the phone. 

"My kid just ate like 20 vitamins" I hear him say to a huddle of coworkers around him. I immediately hear a man laugh and say she'll pee them out, it's fine. Then I hear a group of cackling men in the background while James vacillates between joining them and also feeding off my panic. He plays it cool, but I can tell he's worried. He shoots off texts to the pharmacists he works with while I am scolding Gracie and then begging at him for help and then yelling at no one in particular all in one breath. Their laughing grows louder. They can hear me. Of course they can!! I'm yelling so loud, so panicked that everyone in probably a 5 cubicle radius can hear me and I'm not even on speaker phone. I have always been so good at first impressions. 

James talks me down to a slightly more rational level. We're not sure what to do, but we agree I should at least start with calling the doctor. We get off the phone, and I quickly Google "my three year old ate" and before I can finish typing, it auto-populates with "too many gummy vitamins." I am not the first mom to go through this, there is nothing new under the sun. My eyes keep darting over to Gracie to check that she's alive. She is. I wonder if she'll get her stomach pumped before the day is out. Jumping to worst case scenarios is my spiritual gift. Maybe if I worry about it enough, it won't happen. Irrational, but hey! I'll try anything.

As per usual, the internet is completely divided. Half the articles say she'll be fine, half say she'll die. I fish the bottle out of the trash can and read the ingredients. My brain can't even comprehend what I'm reading. If it has iron this is a medical emergency. Does that say iron? It has an "I" in it. Did I just forget how to read? WHAT ARE WORDS. I get ready to call the doctor and look at the clock. It's 12:15. I know from always having bad timing that the office is closed from 12-1, with a recording that plays "if this is a medical emergency, please hang up and dial 911."

But I don't know, IS this a medical emergency?!?! When I gave birth and the hospital gave me a sheet of paper with tips on caring for a baby, nothing told me what to do in the event my child chugs a bottle of vitamins. I have no idea what else to do, James hasn't heard back from his pharmacist, and while I could call my dad and have him round up a pediatrician, I need immediate answers. I decide to call poison control. 

I have never in my life called poison control. I feel like I earned another badge on my Motherhood Scouts vest. A very nice woman answers the phone. I answer a few questions and confirm the ingredients do not list iron or niacin, at least I think they don't in my heightened level of stress which apparently cancels out my reading comprehension skills. "Ok, she should be fine! This happens all the time." It was like she stabbed my stress balloon with a needle, and all the anxiety and panic rush out of me. She is so kind, so calming, so reassuring. Poison Control is like the Chick Fil A of call centers with A+ customer service. The powers that be clearly know how to handle hysterical moms. But I'm still shaking. I can't stop shaking. She lists a few possible side effects, nothing serious. I try to hug her through the phone. She offers to send me a magnet with the poison control phone number.

Please, please do. 

I call my mom to have her talk me off the ledge because I can tell it will take a few years for this whole thing to wear off. While I'm on the phone, Gracie turns into a feral animal. She grabs her Santa hat by the pom, swings it around, hits my face, all the furniture, and knocks a candle off a table. Thankfully not the candle I currently have burning. Poison Control was enough for one day; I'm not ready for my first foray with 911 and the fire department. She runs around the house squealing and destroying everything in sight.

Is this what a vitamin overdose looks like? Either they hide caffeine in them, or the sweeteners went to her head. She eventually crashes under the kitchen table, curled in the fetal position. I'm still shaking, still worried she'll have some weird reaction. 

Later, after a long nap, I let her have a popsicle. As she's eating, she starts gagging like she's going to throw up. REVENGE OF THE VITAMINS! I'm so freaked out I find myself paralyzed. This is ridiculous, she's fine, but I'm so emotionally traumatized from the day that I can't even react. As it turns out, the popsicle just went down the wrong pipe. I've never once said I'm good in a crisis, and all I do is continue to prove that.

I text a slew of mom friends about what I went through. Every single one comes back with a story of something horrible their kid ate and how they were afraid it would kill them. 

And then one friend, after relaying the story of ingested water containing bath salts and essential oils said, "But aren't the people at poison control just so nice?" 


  1. Oh my goodness that must have been so scary! I'm glad Gracie is okay!!

    My only experience with poison control (hopefully the first and last!!) was also with a really nice woman. Jackson ate a pellet or two from the babysitter's pellet stove. The babysitter called them first and had them call me. After the initial freakout it was a very pleasant interaction.

  2. Oh man, I would have been freaking out! There was one time when my toddler walked into the dining room holding an open can of coolant (for the car) and I immediately thought "NO YOU DRANK COOLANT!?!?! WILL YOU DIE???" I tried to calm myself to call my husband, and found out that the can had apparently already been empty, which was a massive relief. I haven't had to call Poison Control yet, though I'm sure it won't be long before I need to-I'm pretty sure my mom called PC at least a few times when us kids were growing up. I bet the Poison Control employees have fun sharing stories over lunch about the kinds of things they hear about.

  3. I was okay up until the point where you called Gracie a 'feral animal'. I LOST IT.

    I don't know how we ended up with it, but in my old house (that I only lived in up until first grade) we had a lime green poison control sticker on the phone itself, right below the dial pad. I wonder if she needed to call so frequently, she just stuck it right to the phone to save time? I never thought about that until right now.

    1. We also had these stickers in my house. Maybe we got them at school? My mom had them on every single bottle of cleaner in our house AND on the phone.

      No one ingested anything poisonous but my oldest brother shoved a dime up his nose. Or maybe it was an M&M?

      I'm glad Gracie is okay minus the part about her being going into beast mode. The gummies are so tempting. I can comprehend not eating 20 of them but I still want to.

  4. Fun fact, I have a pop socket on my phone with poison control's phone number. Not that I really ever need to call them; I got it for free at the Ragnar village.

    But as I mentioned in my comment on your IG post, Brenden was known by name at our local poison control. Every now and then THEY'D call my mom to check on him. haha He once drank an entire bottle of cough syrup and my mom was freaking out and was like, "Do I give him ipicac?!" and they told her no and to keep an eye on him and that he'd probably get really tired but would ultimately be fine. and he was. He ate many things and the only time they ever told her to give him ipicac was when he ate mushrooms from the back yard. And that one they were like, "IMMEDIATELY!!" But, he survived. haha

    let me know if you want me to mail you my pop socket.

  5. We’re still waiting for our first poison control incident, but I know it will come. I would have had the exact same reaction as you FOR SURE. Bless you mama.

  6. I probably should have called PC when Imogen ate the aspirin, but apparently I'm a terrible mother and just hopped online to make sure she wouldn't die from sucking on an aspirin for 5 minutes. The question I REALLY wanted answered was, how on earth did she tolerate the taste that long??

  7. Oh no!! The good thing is that actually I'm pretty sure it's the law that gummy vitamins sold in the USA cannot contain iron--exactly because of this risk. That's why I took gummy vitamins for my whole pregnancy because every time I took a prenatal with iron in it I'd be vomiting within 10 minutes.
    There was one year my mom had to call Poison Control for my brother 4 times. Once was nail polish remover, once was a bottle of Cough Syrup, can't remember what the others were. Kids are so so so scary, man.


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