I might as well start the Mama Fail posts with a numbering system! There are plenty to write about! This week, Wednesday’s Wild Chronicles is going to focus on my very first! A first of anything is a bit of a cause for celebration! (Unless of course, it jeopardizes your child’s well-being, which is exactly what I did!) Finally were parents! It would not take long before I encountered my first Mama Fail.
By nature I am an under-reactor. This has served me well as a nurse. Working in the ER, one has to be able to not react emotionally in order to systematically dissect a critical situation. Even in parenting it is usually a helpful trait, allowing me to not overreact to every bump, cut and illness. Unfortunately as I found out, this attribute can hinder your motherly instincts!
Turkey-man was seven weeks old when one day he started running a fever. (For those of you who do not yet have children a fever in a child under three months of age is highly concerning as their bodies are not usually capable of producing a fever yet.) His was low-grade so I decided on the “wait and see” approach. The fever was gone after the first evening and when symptoms of a cold developed, I felt pretty confident that things were going to be fine. He was just enduring his first illness.
Then he developed a cough, one that I had heard before when I worked in the ER, one that I knew was not good. My Mama instincts grew concerned, but continuing with a dose of denial that anything serious could truly be wrong, I decided to continue with my under-reactive approach. He was taking his bottles fine. I did not want to seem like an alarmist over his very first cold.
Sunday morning, two days after the cough developed, we got up to head to church. I noticed that from across the room I could see Turkey-man’s head bobbing with every breath. My motherly instincts perked up even further seeing this, but in my mind it still was not enough to warrant emergency action. I called my mom who is also a nurse and asked if she would bring her stethoscope (as I had lost mine) to church with her so I could take a listen to his lungs.
Now, it is important for you to know I get my under reactive nature honestly. As kids we pretty much had to have a bone sticking out before my mom would consider we might actually have a problem.
I described the scene to her and she suggested instead of bringing him to church, we should probably take him to the ER. Knowing her nature, I knew she thought it was serious given that she was making that suggestion. Given that my concern was rising was combined with her affirmation that this was not just an average cold, we packed him up and took him to the hospital.
When we arrived at the hospital they took us straight back – never a good sign. They took off his shirt and he was clearly retracting. (A term to describe being able to see the muscles between someone’s ribs moving in and out with each breath. It is a sign of significant difficulty breathing.) I knew all about retractions! I worked in the ER and later in the neonatal ICU! I had seen them plenty of times and knew they were a bad sign. In my denial that anything could possibly be seriously wrong with Turkey-man, I had totally missed this. Major, major Mama Fail!
The doctor assessed him and let us know the game plan. He was going to be admitted. They would give him a couple of breathing treatments in the ER, but if he did not improve they would admit him to the pediatric ICU. An hour ago, I was ready to take him to church and just have my mom bring her stethoscope so I could take a listen to his lungs! The ER doctor was possibly going to admit him to the ICU. Have I mentioned yet – MAJOR MAMA FAIL!
It turned out that he had RSV. Given that he was a preemie and so young, this was a serious problem. He responded to the breathing treatments and was able to be admitted to the regular unit, but did require extra oxygen for several days.
I did learn my lesson a bit by this experience. The day after he was discharged, his respiratory rate spiked up to around 100, normal being 30-60. He was sustaining it that high so I did call the doctor. We gave him back-to-back breathing treatments at home with no improvement so it was back to the hospital we went. At least this time, I was out of denial and knew we had a big problem on our hands.
After almost four years of parenting, I am doing better at trusting my instincts, though, I still am pretty minimally reactive to my children’s medical problems. A few months ago I was even able to override that first sense to wait and see! Turkey-man started choking and suddenly went silent. My first impulse was to give it a second and see what happens. Then the Mama instinct stepped in. Silent choking = very, very big problem. Thankfully, he was able to start coughing again on his own! However, I remember thinking “Wow! My first thought was to give that a second to see what happened!” That instinct to “wait and see” runs strong! Luckily, I have not had any more Mama Fail moments in this area!
(This is a particularly good thing since that really gets in the way of doing this whole motherhood thing perfectly!)