JJ, my wise husband, has said more than once to me in our almost-nine years of marriage, “Emily, you would feel guilty if you sneeze in the wrong direction!” This is true.
I can feel guilty very, very easily. I’m not sure exactly why this is, if it has something to do with my perfectionism or my upbringing or what, but — there it is. It doesn’t take much for me to feel guilty.
I got a big dose of mommy guilt yesterday as I realized that the literally all-night coughing that Curious J had done was not, in fact, plain old coughing, but was in fact, the kind of coughing that indicates bronchiolitis. You would think that after all this time, recognizing such a cough would be second nature to me. But, apparently not. Hence the mommy guilt. This would also explain why the cough medicines I gave her, both homeopathic and standard allopathic, did nothing for her cough. Duh!
Her cough previous to that night had been non-bronchiolitis, of that I am sure. But, somewhere in the evening it switched, and for whatever reason (possibilities of which I will not go into here), I didn’t recognize the shift, and didn’t treat her cough appropriately. Sigh. Mommy guilt!
Did I ever mention that I can’t sleep at night with noise? I can’t sleep with snoring, and I can’t sleep with other kinds of intermittent noise. White noise is okay. The occasional siren going by is okay. But intermittent noise – I cannot sleep with it.
(Funny story: While on college choir tour, my choir roommate and I had to share a hotel room with two other girls one night, and amonst the three other girls there were two heavy snorers. Since I was stuck in the hotel room with them with no other place to go, I was absolutely miserable. I ended up taking a pillow and a blanket off the bed, turning the light (and loud fan) on in the bathroom, sticking my pillow on the bathroom floor, and sleeping with my head in the bathroom, just so that the “white noise” of the fan would allow me to sleep. I also hate sleeping in bright light, but it was easier for me to sleep in bright light than it was to sleep with noise. I was glad to get home from that choir trip!)
Thankfully, despite only managing two hours of sleep that night, I was astute enough in the morning to recognize that J was badly retracting her chest with each breath she took. Doh! I got up right away, gave her a dose of the oral steroid that I still had left over from her last bout of bronchiolitis, brought out the nebulizer and the inhaled medications, and gave her a breathing treatment. Wouldn’t you know, her cough got better!
I feel guilty that J gets sick with this bronchiolitis so often. I feel like it’s my fault. I wonder if my mother ever felt the same way, considering I had repeated ear infections as a child. Did she wonder if she could have done anything different? When I’ve talked to her about it, it seems like she’s comfortable with how she treated my ear infections, which was to use the standard allopathic treatment that my pediatrician prescribed: repeated doses of antibiotics, tried to keep my ears covered as much as possible, and finally surgery to put tubes in both of my ears when I was 7 years old. But in today’s world, where traditional allopathic medicine is more and more questioned and long-term side effects to medications is definitely questioned, I feel obligated to look to solutions beyond those which my pediatrician prescribes. Thankfully, I’ve found other solutions that do seem to work. Except, of course, when you don’t use them because you’ve run out of the certain homeopathic remedy and thought that perhaps your daughter could hold on for one more day until the remedy arrived in the mail. (Note to self: Always keep at least one full bottle of Thymuline on hand at ALL TIMES.) The homeopathic remedy Thymuline does work to keep Curious J from getting bronchiolitis, but obviously, I have to have it to give to her.
But, in the end, we mothers do the best we can. We’re not perfect, and I guess I know that we have to forgive ourselves for not being perfect. It’s not that I won’t try again to do better the next time, but it’s an acknowledgement of the fact that I will fail, and to be kind to myself when I do. Because me holding onto “mommy guilt” does me no good, and it does my children no good, either. It certainly isn’t an example that I want my daughters to follow when they are mothers!
Thankfully, Curious J is already doing better. Her cough is significantly decreased, and she’s no longer retracting her chest and struggling to breathe. My homeopath and I have talked, and we’re going to keep working to find a way to keep J from having these problems all together. We’re on the right path, we’re getting there, but we’re not quite there yet. Thankfully, we live in 2009, not 1909 or earlier. There is huge amounts of knowledge about medications, both allopathic and alternative, that allow my daughter to breathe freely, and no matter what, she will be able to live a full and healthy life. I thank God for that!