Parenting Through the Guilt

There are a lot of things we worry about as parents, especially us moms. We agonize over whether or not to vaccinate our children. To breastfeed or use formula. When to start solid foods and then what foods to give them. Organic? Affordable? Homemade? Store-bought? McDonald’s? Whether our children are hitting all their milestones at the right time. Walking? Talking? Whether the way they achieved those milestones was quite the way they “should.” Are they walking on tiptoes because it’s fun and new or because they are autistic?

Then there’s always the inevitable “Do I call the doctor or not?” worry. That worry often starts when baby is still gestating. I haven’t felt baby kick in six hours! Could something be wrong? Should I call my doctor? Once baby is on the outside, that worry ramps up into overdrive. I remember when Zoey was six weeks old and she had a fever of 100.4 F. It was right at that cutoff mark that you are told you have to call a doctor if the baby is under two months old. So I did and of course they said to bring her in. And of course it was ten o’clock at night so “come in” meant “go to the ER.” So we sat in an Emergency Room with our tiny newborn daughter, exhausted and worried and wondering why we were even there. All my nurse and mom instincts were telling me “she just has a stomach bug.” I knew that was all she had. But I was a brand new mom and the doctor had said “come in” so there we were. The bullied us into letting them draw her blood. Then they bullied us more until we let them catheterize her to check for a urinary tract infection (a procedure that can actually cause a UTI where there wasn’t one previously). Never did they mention there was the option of just taping a little bag to her to catch the pee, something I learned about later. After the blood work came back the horrible bully of a pediatrician came to us and said, “Good news. The blood work looks just fine so we won’t have to do a spinal tap.” I just stared at her, mouth open, for a minute before I said (in a tone no one would ever argue with) “There was NEVER going to BE a SPINAL TAP. My baby does NOT have meningitis.” At two in the morning we finally were released home with a piece of paper telling us the proper dosage of acetaminophen to reduce Zoey’s fever. That’s all I had really wanted in the first place, when I called the doctor.

Yesterday, Zoey was having a major sensory meltdown/tantrum. As I was holding her in my arms and carrying her to another room I tripped on a baby gate and we both fell to the ground. I couldn’t reach out a hand to break our fall without dropping Zoey so I just took the full weight of the fall, but Zoey hit her shoulder pretty hard. All last night and all day today she has been crying on and off and telling me her shoulder hurts. I’ve been internally debating whether I need to call the doctor and take her in for x-rays. The thing is, my nurse and mommy instincts are speaking up again and saying, “She’s fine.” There’s no swelling. No bruising or discoloration. No deformity. She really didn’t hit the floor that hard. I honestly believe it’s more that she’s overly tired and having a string of “sensory days” where she’s just sensitive to everything. I don’t doubt that her shoulder feels a bit bruised and sore, but I do think that on a “regular” day she would barely give it a second thought. Today, though, she has decided to fixate on the shoulder as the source of all her “feeling bad.”

Maybe it’s having had a second child and being through the ringer a few times. Maybe it’s just that I’m learning not to let guilt or thoughts of “what if” control my every parenting decision. Maybe it’s that I’m learning to trust myself more as a mom. Maybe it’s that I’m just too darn lazy and really don’t want to deal with dragging a whiny, ultra-sensitive three year old and her little sister to the doctor today. Whatever the reason, we’re staying home and we’re all taking a nap. I think that’s better than anything any doctor would do for us.

2 thoughts on “Parenting Through the Guilt

  1. Sorry about your tumble. I fell out of my high chair and broke my collar bone at age 6 months…my mom still sees me in a strapless gown and cringes; but it’s a nice opportunity to just go give her a silent huggle. #upside

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