Or a baby, as the case may be.

Today I had the inevitable but no less traumatizing experience of holding my baby down while phlebotomists attempted to fill impossibly large vials from her impossibly tiny veins. She struggled and she screamed and she kicked off her shoe. And I wanted to tell them to stop, but I didn’t, because these tests are important.

I couldn’t even think how to comfort her. I thought about singing, but I couldn’t remember the words–or the tune. I resorted to shhh…shhh…shhh… and resting my cheek on her head.

Phlebotomist 1 told me that she was upset about being held more than anything. She said this as she wiggled the needle in my baby’s arm and Phlebotomist 2 and I failed to hold her still.

It’s 12 hours later and I’m still reliving the moment. And kicking myself for not making them stop sooner on that first attempt that was obviously not bearing fruit.

I never have the right words in the moment. My brain doesn’t respond quickly. I need time to think and to process. Now I can imagine telling them to stop. At that moment, I did have the thought, but I didn’t want to risk having to come back another day and try again. To put her through this torture a second time.

I hate that I doubt myself in the moment. I hate that I don’t react quickly enough.

I wish I could find a stock answer that acknowledges the circumstances and also allows me the space and time I need to formulate an authentic response.