I’ve Said It Before And I’ll Say It Again, Parenting Is Terrifying

172308360I 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? 

Me: Yes

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)

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You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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  • Bethany Ramos

    Oh man!!! So happy this story has a good ending. I never know when to take my kids in either. Half the time, they’re like, Duh! They’re fine! The other half, they’re like, Uh, your baby has walking pneumonia…

  • Alexandra

    Awwww YAY EVE!!! :)

  • Kay_Sue

    I think the doctor thing is a fairly common struggle. I know I can relate too. I never know if I made the right decision, even though our doc is awesome and never makes me feel like a total moron for it. Sometimes she even finds it amusing, like when they went in covered head to toe in matching rashes and I’m standing there like, “They just woke up like this! They haven’t used any new lotions, body washes, detergents, NOTHING! Who are these alien beings?!” and she’s all, “Oh look, it’s classic fifth disease.”

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      My doctor was amazing about it, too. My son had fifth disease!!! He woke up with the weirdest rash and I ran to the doc – ha!

    • Kay_Sue

      I honestly think it was the most bizarre health-related thing I have encountered with the two of them thus far (please, any celestial beings that may read this, don’t take that as a challenge).

  • TheGiantPeach

    Deciding when to take my son to the doctor paralyzes me. I don’t want to be seen as the crazy, overprotective mom who takes him in for every sniffle, but I also don’t want to sit aroudn and let an illness get worse. But how do I know what is what??? And of course he’s only sick on nights and weekends, so I have to decide whether to take him to the ER or to hope he lives through the night. Do you think Eve would Skype with me the next time he gets sick???

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      Haha – maybe! The ER thing is the worst!

  • Sterf

    Oh my baby has trouble pooping a lot! Do I have him push his hands into my hands or his feet?

    • Jessica


    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      Put your hands under his feet. Also helps to lie him on his back and move his legs like he’s riding a bike :)

    • Rachel Sea

      That’s good for gas, but i find helping them into a squatting position is better for poop.

    • Sterf

      Thank you!

  • esuzanne

    Oooooooh I can so relate to this. Almost the exact same thing happened to my 5 month old on Monday. He was shrieking and making awful noises, breathing strangely, sweating, and turning red. I had no idea what was wrong, and the panic hit so hard I think I was on the verge of shrieking, sweating, and turning red myself. And then yeah, he pooped, and everything was fine. We had just started iron drops about a week before. Lesson: sometimes pooping is scary.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      Pooping IS scary!

  • Rachel Ramey

    I have learned to always ask myself, “what can the doctor (or hospital) DO in this situation that I can’t?” (And “reassure me” is a perfectly acceptable answer.) If the answer is “nothing,” we don’t go. It doesn’t completely solve the “do we stay or do we go?” question, but it helps a lot!

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