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Check-in at an Inpatient Children's Psychiatric Hospital (Chapter 4)

Check-in at an inpatient children's psychiatric hospital was a much more bearable process than I anticipated.  I did cry a few times, but it could have been much worse.

After all we had already been through the traumatic experience of the police being called to our home, the most horrible ER experience ever, and then the second ER experience that brought us to where we were now.

The check-in process took several hours, but this was a good thing, at least in my opinion.

The staff asked so many questions about Sunshine.  Some had to do with behaviors and medications, but others had to do with her preferences, interests, daily routines, rituals, and basic needs.

They were sincerely interested in making the situation as pleasant as humanly possible for all involved.

I was calmed immediately.  My biggest worry was that Sunshine would not be taken care of well and I would feel even worse than I already did leaving her there.

Check-in at an Inpatient Children's Psychiatric Hospital

Working on Attachment While Separated

The only challenge we would face during Sunshine's time in the hospital was that they could not accommodate Sunshine's food allergies.

Understanding the severity of them quite well, this was not unexpected.  We agreed that we would bring meals and snacks for them to store there.  This was not the easiest thing to stay on top of but I still was so thankful we were able to do it.

Bringing Sunshine's meals to her meant that I was still able to take care of her in some way.  Food is EXTREMELY important to Sunshine and is entangled in her attachment issues.

For her to know my husband and I were preparing her meals meant that we were still connecting in some way every day, even if we weren't there with her in the moment.

The Facility

Sunshine joined us during check-in after she had settled.  I hadn't expected this, but was so thankful to see her again.  Parting in the elevator as she was strapped in wasn't how I wanted to say goodbye.

After I had finished with paperwork and locked up any personal items I had with me,staff led me to Sunshine's room on the main floor, locking every door behind them as we went.

I had been warned about this process, that I may be disturbed by how other children looked, how the place presented itself etc.

Surprisingly, the experience did the opposite for me.  The main floor was beautiful with murals painted on the walls.

Sunshine had her own room.  It was clean, bright and accommodating.  Staff quickly learned they would need to move the desk and chair, but other than that it was perfect for her.

I saw other children.

I saw other parents.

No one was distraught.

Nothing I saw was disturbing.

Our New Normal

The hospital gave me a daily schedule that Sunshine would follow if she was able.

I was given information about visiting hours held twice a day and times that I was permitted to call if I would like to speak to Sunshine.

Staff explained that Sunshine would have a one-to-one aid with her at all times due to her age and behaviors.

She would have daily check-ins with at least one therapist, a psychiatrist and more.

In my mind there was no doubt that this was exactly what she needed.  To be observed so closely for an extended amount of time...

Doctors appointments every six weeks to three months that last only 90 minutes just weren't cutting it.

Part of the paperwork process was setting goals for Sunshine and what we would like addressed while she was there.

We were informed of ways they may need to intervene if she became aggressive or dangerous in any way.

Nothing on that list was anything we hadn't had to do at home under the advisement of our developmental pediatrician.

The most difficult part of check-in was that Sunshine needed to be searched.  They used a metal detector but also required her to remove her shirt etc.

Sunshine was not having this AT ALL.

In the end they were accommodating which we appreciated.

I was introduced to the one-to-one Sunshine would have for the night and was allowed to help settle Sunshine before leaving.

When it was time, the staff distracted her with a preferred task after our goodbyes and that was it.

After Goodbye

I  was leaving my six-year-old daughter at an inpatient psychiatric ward.

Walking out of the doors of the hospital without Sunshine was an experience that I still can't put into words.

Even more awkward, I didn't have a vehicle with me.  My husband needed it for work and transporting the other kids.  Our therapist had brought Sunshine and I to the ER the day before.  The ambulance had brought us here.

I was waiting for a ride to pick me up.

So I sat on the front steps.

It was a beautiful day.  I had not been outside since the beginning of the week and couldn't help but soak up the beauty around me.

Having a few minute before my ride came, I called my husband and I gave him an update about all that had gone on.

And that was it.

By the time I left the hospital my body was pretty numb to emotion.  My stress level was through the roof.  It seemed I was in auto pilot mode when it came to basic functioning.  And as far as eating was concerned, I wasn't the least bit hungry and when I was, all I wanted was ice cream.

I had never been so thankful for a ride home with people I had known for years, who knew me before kids, before marriage, and before Sunshine.  It was the perfect distraction.  And I'm not sure I would have been in a place where I could have driven myself.

Yes, they asked questions and made comments.  Yes, they expressed their sincere and loving emotions about the situation, but all of this was so much better than being in my own head with my own thoughts alone.

The reality was I had just left my daughter at an inpatient children's psychiatric hospital by herself.  Never had she ever spent a night away from home.  Never had she ever spent more than a few hours with others.

Distractions were good.

If you enjoyed this post, you want to know what happened that put our family in the situation we were in, or know what happened next, feel free to read the posts below.
Call the Police! What You Don't Want to Have Happen When Your Child is in the ER for Mental Health Reasons What Should Happen When Your Child is in the ER for Mental Health Reasons Check-in-at an inpatient children's psychiatric hospital My Daughter is inpatient at a Children's Psych Ward Our First Family Session in a Psych Ward Nine Days This Was Not Okay Miracles What Family Life Looks Like After a Mental Health Crisis is Over To Be a Mother of a Young Child with Reactive Attachment Disorder Special Needs Support and Resources
Check-in at an Inpatient Children's Psychiatric Hospital

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