They are Never Wrong
Becoming a parent can be one of the most daunting and frightening life changing moments. We all know it, we all feel it. When we are growing a whole new life inside us, it’s as if a switch flips and all of a sudden we know that we are responsible. That we have a small mini person now relying on us to keep them alive.
It is terrifying.
It’s even more terrifying because no matter how much you want to keep your children safe, things will always happen that are out of your control. Unless you wrap them in bubble wrap, there will be things you can not shield them from. That alone is the most terrifying part of being a parent. Being the one person that is supposed to protect them, and being in a position where you know you are unable to.
My youngest daughter is a fighter. She has been since she was in the womb. I suffered with hyperemesis, a condition that leaves you fighting through uncontrollable sickness just to get to the end of a nine month pregnancy. It was a condition that I suffered with my eldest too, but this pregnancy was different. I went into labour early, very early, and my daughter was born incredibly premature. I won’t go into the details again, you can read her story here, but needless to say that my youngest daughter fought every moment of her life inside my womb and then every second of her time in the NIC unit to live.
Surgeons from all over the country lined up against the walls of my operating room to save the lives of me and my daughter, but it seems that my youngest has spent every moment of her short life since trying to get back into hospital.
She is a fighter, but she is clumsy. She is a fighter, but she is curious. She is a fighter but there are parts of her body that are vulnerable.
Since the day of her birth I cannot count the amount of heart attacks she has given me. Watching her leap from the top of the stairs insisting she can ‘fly’, (thankfully I caught her and only damaged my own back in the process), rushing her to the children’s hospital when she decided she liked the taste of money too much and swallowed three pennies, jumping backwards off the sofa and splitting her chin open! This tiny little fearless girl has given me one too many grey hairs already.
All these incidents are ‘normal’ so I am told. Kids experiment, they push boundaries and they are so innocent they have no fear. So as a mum you learn to shake it off, cover the cuts with band-aids, hug them tight and ‘fix’ them. But never, ever, did I expect to doubt myself quite so much.
Recently, an incident we experienced got me thinking – why are a mother’s instincts always called into question?
My daughter recently became sick. Nothing out of the norm. We have moved to a cold country and her body and immune system is still adjusting to the difference. New schools = new bugs and kids come home with a hundred versions of the same virus each month. They just circulate. But this time was different.
She wasn’t sick – not really. She had a sniffle. A slight runny nose but nothing that I hadn’t seen a million times before. My eldest had the same cold. No coughs and no delirium, but something didn’t sit right. Still, after years and years of everyone telling me I am neurotic and a ‘drama queen’ I pushed my worries aside. It’s just a cold. Everyone is saying it’s just a cold.
A few days later the cold hadn’t shifted. My eldest was fine, but my youngest still seemed slightly ‘not right’. That’s the only way I can describe it; like any mother would. You know your child, and you know when something is wrong. But again, it’s just a cold…
That night she came into my room in the middle of the night. She scared me rigid when I opened my eyes and she was at the side of my pillow. “I can’t sleep”. The husband insisted I put her back to bed, she just needed sleep apparently. Again, I pushed my mothering instincts aside, tucked her in and went back to bed.
A few hours later she returned. Only she was red hot. A fever like I had never felt in her before. The thermometer showed 39.8 and rising.
For an entire day I fought with my gut, I knew something wasn’t right but everyone told me ‘it’s just a fever’. She was chatting rubbish. Nonsense. Nothing she was saying made sense. Paracetamol took her fever down for a few hours, then it would return again. Tepid baths were not helping either.
The next day, I called the doctors first thing. “Children get fevers all the time. For no reason at all. But bring her in this afternoon if you are really worried.”
Even the doctor was telling me, over the phone having not seen her, her flushed faced, her spaced out eyes and her out of the norm breathing, that this was ‘normal’.
It was pneumonia.
After a screaming fit in the doctor surgery as they tried to examine her, a blood test and exam showed that it was more than just a ‘cold’. I knew it was. I KNEW IT! But why didn’t I follow my gut? Because we are told all too often that mothers ‘worry for nothing’.
She is fine now. A strong course of antibiotics, lots of love, hugs and chicken soup and she is better. But what was left behind was not a physical scar, or anything tangible, but an emotional scar instead. I spent days afterwards blaming myself. I should have taken her to the doctors sooner. I should have listened to my gut and followed my mother’s instincts. I should never listen to those who say ‘you’re just being a paranoid mother.’ Because at the end of the day, screw them and their judgment. So what if you are worried, so what if you are paranoid. At the end of the day you are a mother and you have the right to ask the questions and push for answers, no matter what the issue.
You have the right because you are a mother and you are tasked with keeping this mini person alive, despite all the dangers that lurk around the corners.
It doesn’t matter if your child is sick, or you are worried they are being bullied at school, or you are worried they are not happy… it doesn’t matter what it is that worries you – if it worries you, face it and ask the questions. It doesn’t matter if your child is a baby, a teenager or even a grown adult with kids of their own – mothers are given a ‘gut feeling sixth sense’ for a reason. Ask the questions and push for answers.
You are a mother. I am a mother. My mother’s instinct has never been wrong – has yours? Follow it. No matter the judgment.