There's No Guilt Like Mother's Guilt

Being a Mom 19

I should've known.

I really should've.

We'd both been sick for as long as I can remember (which, with three kids, let's face it, is not very long). I assumed it was the flu or a winter cold. I mean, we've barely had a winter here in Chicago, so it's not that much of a stretch to assume that the germs that would normally be killed all dead and shit would be sticking around to make us miserable.

I didn't expect this, though.

Sunday morning, bright and blurry, I woke up to see my four-year old, my middle son, Alex, laying on the couch, listlessly playing the Wii with his sister. Now this is the kid who is normally bounding around, energy oozing off him into the air around him.

"I'm sick," he said, as I said good morning to him.

"He's had a really high fever - but I can't find the thermometer, so I gave him some Tylenol," his father offered.

I felt his head -- warm -- but figured he'd blow through the fever like he does with everything else.

Two hours later, as I watched him lay on the couch, still listless and burning up, I asked his father to take him to one of those Doc-in-the-Box clinics at the pharmacy. Reluctantly, he agreed.

An hour later, just as I was finishing up my board meeting for my non-profit, I got the call I hadn't expected.

"We're on our way to the ER -- his temperature is over 104," his father told me.

I made arrangements for my mother to watch my other children and I hauled balls to the ER in time to see Alex, my poor guy, fighting off the doctor who was trying to perform a strep test on the kid.

"If this comes back negative, we're going to do a chest x-ray," she said as she walked out of the room.



Soon enough, just as Alex and I were settling into a nice game of Angry Birds together, the radiologist came in to collect him. Off to the x-ray department we waddled, where they snapped a couple pictures of my kid's chest.

Hours later, the doctor came in.

"He has pneumonia. A-typical pneumonia," she said as she wrote him a prescription for antibiotics.

Pneumonia? REALLY?

The guilt was instant. Why hadn't I seen this coming? How had I let him go all morning without immediately taking him to the ER? Why didn't I skip my board meeting?

He's home now and recovering on the couch. He's not himself quite yet, and I'm not quite sure that I'm ready to forgive myself for not taking his fever more seriously.

But he's okay, that's the important bit, I tell myself.

Soon, I hope I can actually begin to believe it.

Maternal guilt, man, it NEVER ends.

safety, a mom's life, confessions


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NinRobin NinRobin

As mothers we can't win. Were either seen as over-paranoid or neglectful. But as non-medical professionals it's hard to judge when a fever is just a flu or something more. A couple years ago I took my son into urgent care because he had a flu and light fever all week and didn't seem to improve. Turns out the flu had done such a number on him, he was admitted for 4 days! I still feel the sting of guilt for that. But I thought it was just a simple flu... gave him plenty of rest, chicken soup, and water. I had no clue that a simple flu could do that to him. All we can do is use our best judgement and hope that we make the right call when it comes to taking them in. And that the real medical professionals don't shove it off as over-paranoia and give are kids the time and treatment they need.

Hope your son is feeling better soon.

ReiRe... ReiReally

It's not like you let him suffer for weeks on end when he was telling you hourly that he didn't feel good. You took care of him the same day and, from what I read here, he'll recover. I completly understand mommy guilt, there are 1006 things I wish I could have done differently on LO's behalf but, he's a healthy, happy, smart kid despite things I think were mistakes. It'll be okay, ma.

Jalic... Jaliceawrites

I actually went through this myself when my oldest daughter was 3. I know exactly what you mean about maternal guilt; when I heard the "Pneumonia", my eyes welled up automatically and it took me days to convince myself I wasnt worthless. I suppose the thingwe have to remember is children will get sick regardless of our parenting skills. As long as you are doing your best for your children, no one can really ask for more than that. Your childrenlove you for a reason: you take care of them- well. Don't forget that.

corri... corrinacs

I feel for you honey :/.  I feel like a total awful mommy to my son Caden :( :(.  He had severe food allergies for 2 years that were NOT diagnosed.  He had suffered I don't know how many anaphalactic reactions before I even knew what was going on.  He also had two really bad asthma attacks that resulted in him having a collapsed lung.  I must say he must have a high pain tolerance because during all of this he acted like his usual we didn't even think to worry........I mainly blame his stupid pediatrician he had when he was a baby....who didn't listen to ANYTHING i brought to her.

Luckily, we are controlled with our allergies and asthma here.  But with my second son, I am looking every inch for ANY indication of allergies.  I don't want him to live the same life my first son did!

"Gotta love my Caden.  For a kid whose food choices I can cound on maybe two hands, he's the happiest kid on the planet."

Julie Winkler

I got pneumonia when I was six yrs old, the part I remember most is how horrible the meds tasted!

MegTh... MegTheGem

I'm reminded of when I was 16. My grandmother had guardianship of me, so I lived with her, as well as my mom (long story). Over the course of a week, I went from feeling normal to feeling like Death warmed over; my throat hurt and swallowing felt like shards of glass. Every day, I told Grandma I didn't feel good and that my throat hurt. She dismissed me as trying to get out of school without a second glance. Finally, I was curled up on the couch, quietly watching TV. My mom saw me and realized how out of the norm I was acting; I usually had boundless energy, my nose in a book or messing with my writing (poetry). Mom stuck her hand on the back of my neck and gasped; I was burning up (even my eyes were hot!). Mom tells Grandma, and again, she declares I'm faking. Mom said, "I know my daughter; she IS sick! She's burning up! And have you not noticed she hasn't been acting normal?" THAT'S what did it; Grandma took me to the doc the next day and I was diagnosed with tonsilitis. I remember the antibiotics pills were huge!

nonmember avatar cherry

my 7 months old had 42deg celsius fever a couple of days ago. the doc's diagnosis was acute broncholitis. I feel you. My baby's better now but she has to continue being on meds for the next 5 days. Hugd to alex

shera... sheramom4

When I was 10 I had a slight sore thoat and the sniffles for a couple of days. No big deal, I even went to school. My dad was very much a "suck it up" kind of guy, older, grumpy etc until his little girl woke up with a temp of 104 and a rash all over her body. Imagine my parents surprise when they rushed me to the doctor to discover I had atypical strep which had developed into full-blown Scarlet Fever. I missed 6 weeks of school. My dad felt terrible. My mom felt terrible. And I had exposed the entire school! My parents became super vigilant after that and even then a couple of years later my youngest brother had a febrile seizure. He went from perfectly fine to a super high temp in a matter of minutes. I learned that no matter how cautious you are as a parent, things happen.

nonmember avatar Jessica

My youngest son was admitted into the hospital at 4 months old with cellulitus. He was very larthargic all day so I knew he was sick, but when I called the nurse line I was told to wait until his fever was 103. Well, at 1 in the morning it was 103 and we went to the emergency room. He hadn't had a rash all day and when we got there he had one. The doctors looked at me like how could you not see that rash. When it spread while he was in the hospital for just then they believed me. I feel guilty because he couldn't wear generic diapers and I didn't know that and I felt like I was the one who gave it to him by not realizing it. My two oldest sons were able to where the generics, but when he did he got this horrible diaper rash. For years I wouldn't put him in anything but huggies. He's a happy bouncing 4 year old now, and you wouldn't know that he spent 4 days in the hospital for this.

Kim Kajdasz

Same thing happened to me when my son was 3. I took him to the doctor 3 times in 2 weeks and each time I was told it was viral and let it run it's course. Finally I took him to the ER and he was diagnosed with pneumonia. Long story short, his lung collapsed due to the pneumonia on the 3rd day we were there. My poor guy had to have a chest tube, NG tube, and a PICC line. He was in the hospital for 10 days including a very scary stint in ICU. When we got to the hospital on Wednesday he had a spot of pneumonia the size of a nickel, and by Friday his lung had collapsed. Trust your gut feelings and stay on top of it! If the doctor isn't on the same page with you go somewhere else. I hope your little man has a speedy recovery!

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