It’s Not All Mary Poppins

First Aid Challenge

Anna wakes from her nap. She’s a snuggler upon waking, and usually likes to sit in my lap for a few minutes before joining the others. I enjoy it, too. She leans again me, warm and cuddly, the top of her head just the right height for a quick kiss now and then. I pick up her hand as it lays in her lap and give the back of the pudgy hand a squeeze and another kiss.

Anna’s whole body tenses, and she shrieks in pain. I put the hand back. That was unexpected. Now that I consider, her left arm is laying funny. It doesn’t look quite right. I wiggle the wrist, flex the fingers. Nothing appears awry. Squeeze the fingernails. They go white, and immediately pink again. Good, good. Lift the arm midway. It’s limp. Let it go. It drops with a thump. Not normal. My heartrate accelerates as I consider. I can feel the thud in my chest.

I slip her shirt off, compare left shoulder to right, manipulate her shoulder, checking for dislocation. Everything appears normal. I lift her arm and gently bend the elbow. It moves without obvious discomfort, but falls, inert, to her lap when I let it go.

“Emma, get me one of those mini doughnuts, will you?”

I hold the doughnut in front of the baby. Anna reaches with her right hand. I give her a bit, then hold the right hand down. Anna reaches with her left hand.

Phew. She can move it. Anna reaches with her left hand, but then uses the two hands together to bring it to her mouth. Not so good. We try it again, holding the right arm the whole time. She lifts the doughnut towards her mouth with her left hand, but then ducks her head down to bite.

What is going on? It’s not broken – how could it be, and me not notice? It’s not dislocated. I rub the skin of her forearm. She winces and yelps with pain.

Hmmm… I think I know what this is. Squeeze her hand. More wincing, but no shrieks this time.

Ten minutes later, the girl is right as rain. Any ideas?

© 2006, Mary P

November 22, 2006 - Posted by | parenting, random and odd


  1. Ooo, Ooo… I know, pick me!

    Did she sleep on that side today and perhaps it had “gone to sleep” ? I know I sure wince when someone messes with my sleeping appendages.

    Comment by Chelsea | November 22, 2006 | Reply

  2. Wake Up!
    Pins and Needles her arm is asleep.

    Comment by Peter | November 22, 2006 | Reply

  3. Ahhhhh…that makes sense. I was thinking insect sting, but it would probably show up as swelling, and wouldn’t just go away in ten minutes.

    Comment by The Teacher | November 22, 2006 | Reply

  4. Slept on her arm and it went numb?

    I hate it when that happens! Especially tall conference room chairs at work where my feet go numb because they can’t reach the ground.

    Comment by Lady M | November 22, 2006 | Reply

  5. perhaps it went to sleep? i am basically befuddled by the ails of toddlers today….so it’s a halfhearted answer…but the real prize was the lovely way you tended to her.

    Comment by jen | November 22, 2006 | Reply

  6. yup, that’s my guess too. sleeping arm.

    Comment by Kelli in the Mirror | November 22, 2006 | Reply

  7. Ah, I know the feeling well… Numb fallen asleep limb. Lately I get it my neck when I pass out on the sofa.

    Comment by mo-wo | November 22, 2006 | Reply

  8. Oh sleepy limbs… I have hyper mobile joints and sometimes sleep one of my arms behind my head, I did this with both once and because of the oddness of the position, both arms fell asleep. When I woke up I couldn’t see where they were, couldn’t feel them, and really couldn’t move them. That’s right, I lost my arms.

    😀 I found them again, it’s all ok.

    Comment by Joel S | November 22, 2006 | Reply

  9. I was going to say her arm fell asleep too.

    Comment by Momma to LG | November 23, 2006 | Reply

  10. Um, she hurt her arm shoplifting?

    Comment by Zero Latitude | November 23, 2006 | Reply

  11. Oh, you people are all much faster on the uptake than I was! (Or perhaps you spent twenty minutes mulling it over before commenting??) Yes, the poor child must have slept on her arm and it was still sleeping!

    LadyM – I’m grinning at the notion of your tiny oriental feet swinging from a chair designed for a 6 foot man! But if anyone can swing ’em with panache, it’d be you. 🙂

    Mo-wo – Still part of the Broken Night Brigade, huh? Yup, and for a little while longer, I’d guess. Sleep deprivation: the part of new motherhood I miss the least.

    Joel – you made me laugh out loud, picturing you flailing about in the dark with not one, but TWO dead and missing arms. Too funny. But can you lick your elbow? My niece has those kind of joints. She has a party trick she uses to entertain/revolt her friends: she POPs her shoulder out, turns her arm around, licks her elbow, turns the arm back and POPs the shoulder back into place. Grossest thing I’ve ever seen that didn’t involve blood. Or poop…

    Zero Latitude – THAT’S IT! THAT’S IT EXACTLY! It was hauling that heavy pack of baby spoons off the shelf that did it. But shhh, it’s a secret

    Comment by Mary P. | November 23, 2006 | Reply

  12. Ha, I was going to say she was sleepign on that arm and it was all pins-and-needles-y. I know, because it happened to me in the middle of the night as I lay on the wretched futon in Pumpkinpie’s room after her nightmare about getting eaten by a dragon. *unkinking my neck*

    Comment by kittenpie | November 23, 2006 | Reply

  13. Occasionally, I sleep on both arms and wake up with them both dead. I can’t use them to lean on to move, so have to try to jerk my torso upwards enough to squirm on to one side.

    It’s odd handling one’s own dead arm. Cold and floppy, and then you can feel the warm blood coursing through again as painful sensation returns.

    Comment by Z | November 23, 2006 | Reply

  14. I was guessing sleeping arm too. I remember as a kid always having to sit on the floor in school cross-legged. Every time we had to get up, it would take a few minutes to get rid of the pins and needles feeling in my feet.

    Comment by Mamacita Tina | November 24, 2006 | Reply

  15. I had no clue until I read the comments– I thought maybe she had gotten shocked the first time, but beyond that, I couldn’t figure it out.

    Comment by Jenorama | November 24, 2006 | Reply

  16. I am late to the party because the cable company has been holding my internet hostage and someone stole my cable splitter.

    But I though it was an arm that went all prickly too.

    Comment by Nicole | November 25, 2006 | Reply

  17. The “sleeping” is really the result of the nerves having been pinched or compressed while sleeping or lying in a particular position.

    A good article is at

    Comment by jw | November 25, 2006 | Reply

  18. It seems to be almost unanimous and I’m very late to the party.

    (Your posts haven’t been showing up once again).

    Comment by Granny | November 28, 2006 | Reply

  19. i hate waking up and my limbs are asleep!

    Comment by John | April 4, 2008 | Reply

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