I was having a leisurely morning playing with my children and drinking coffee when my six-month old started gasping for air. They weren’t really loud gasps – more like little chokes. I could tell she was having a hard time catching her breath.
She hadn’t eaten anything solid – I had breastfed her about 20 minutes before this happened. I picked her up and brought her into some good light to make sure her lips weren’t turning blue or her face wasn’t losing color. I listened for her breath and looked for the rise and fall of her chest. She was definitely breathing – she was just having a hard time doing it and making some very strange noises.
After 20 minutes of this – I decide I should probably take her into the doctor. Deciding when my child needs to be seen by a doctor is one of the hardest things about parenting for me. It really is. I constantly question whether I am overreacting or just being a good mom. I’ve never quite figured out the answer to this question. So we go in.
The doctor listens to her lungs and gives her a quick check up. Everything is fine, he says. Babies can aspirate on breast milk and he’s pretty convinced that’s what it was; some milk went down the wrong way and she was struggling to cough it up. Sounds reasonable. He assures me I was right to bring her in (one of the things I love about my doctor) than does a tutorial about just how hard you can handle your child if you think she is choking on something. He whacks her really hard twice on the back to illustrate his point. She starts crying. I feel terrible but relieved for any lessons I can get.
I get home and get back to work. Of course she didn’t make the noise that troubled me so much to begin with the entire time we were at the doctor – but immediately makes it when we get home. I refuse to call the doctor again so I take to Skype to ask the next best thing – a friend with several children who has seen it all.
Me: EVE! You are the pro. Help. What do I do? I think she actually just may be struggling to poop. Could that be it? Help.
I may not have a friend in town, or a relative with children – but I have my editor who has kids and is smart.
Eve: Umm lemme think. Put your hand on the bottom of her foot. Is she pushing against your hand?
Eve: Than that is it. Take her and take both hands and let her push against you.
What followed was my baby’s first hard poop. I just introduced formula last week and she’s probably having issues with the extra iron. She wasn’t struggling to breathe – she was struggling to poop. I spent and hour and a half in the doctor’s office this morning, when all I really needed was someone who could sympathize with me to talk me through it.
I write this whole, TMI post to say – parenting is terrifying. Also, it helps so much to have a friend around to talk you down. And finally, if you ever have a question about your child’s health – I don’t care what anyone says, don’t feel bad about going to the doctor. Even if you are a mother of two who is somehow unable to recognize that all your child really needs is to take a good shit.
(photo: Getty Images)