Mom guilt is a sneaky son-of-bitch that starts as a slow drip from a faucet not all the way turned off and quickly turns into a flooded bathroom, with your mind escalating to how you may or may not have ruined your kid’s life.
Okay, “ruined life” is a bit of a stretch, but I do worry. Worry, by the way, is something I find you do quite a lot as a parent. For me, when I’ve stayed up too late and am trying to fall asleep, that’s when my mind will sometimes wander back to the night my daughter rolled off our couch. It happened quite literally in the blink of an eye. I was sitting right next to where she was lying and had looked away for a second. The next thing I knew, there she was on the floor bawling.
I checked her out and she seemed fine. I Googled the symptoms to look out for, and didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. Google by the way is such a double-edged sword. It’s great because there’s a wealth of information at your fingertips, but it’s also the worst because if you read enough articles, you’ll soon be diagnosing yourself with some fatal disease.
Rhyan was her happy, smiling self the next day. That afternoon though, I noticed a huge bump right at the top of her head…near her soft spot. Myles had just gotten home from a week-long business trip. We debated whether to wait and take her to the pediatrician first thing the next morning, but decided to take her to the emergency room after I Googled and saw that bump could mean a slight fracture.
Long story short, the doctor said because of where the bump was we needed to do a CT-scan. I had so many questions. I quickly Googled what it meant to have that procedure done. I asked the doctor about the radiation. If this was safe. She assured me that they were using the lowest dose possible and that it only becomes a problem if Rhyan were to have a bunch of scans over her lifetime.
So we did it. And Rhy was perfectly fine, no fractures or bleeding. Just a huge bump, from the fall. I was relieved and grateful for the diagnosis. But, then I got to thinking about all the things I could have done to avoid the fall in the first place. It also didn’t help that I felt like I didn’t ask enough questions at the hospital. When I got home I did a deeper search on CT-scans — so many articles had a list of questions to ask doctors before letting your child have one. I couldn’t remember what I had asked.
Did I voice my concerns clearly? Did I ask if this was necessary or was there another way? All of these questions swirled in my head. Myles reminded me that I did ask all the right questions and that I did stress my concerns about the CT-scan.
There’s that mom guilt for you. In the days after, I Googled some more and read everything I could about CT-scans. I called her pediatrician to talk about it. I posted in one of my mom groups about the entire situation. Everyone said the same thing — that tiny amount of radiation wasn’t going to have any lasting effects. Why wasn’t there a study from all my Googling telling me exactly that?? One mom made a good point, that I’m having these feelings of doubt in my decision and everything that happened because the swelling turned out to be just a result of bumping her head. If Rhyan had indeed suffered a fracture, I’d have zero concerns or negative feelings about my decision to do the CT-scan, as it would have unequivocally been the right thing to do.
I think part of it is that there were just so many things I felt I could have done differently that night to prevent her rolling off the couch in the first place. But, I guess that’s the thing about hindsight. If there’s anything I’ve learned — am STILL learning — is the power of letting go of what I can’t change and to trust that it will all be okay.
Myles does a good job of reminding me when I start thinking about the events too much, that we have to have faith she IS and will be okay. That’s the thing about mom guilt. It has a way of erasing most rational thinking. I know Rhyan is healthy. Just like I know that there will be a ton of other mistakes I’ll make along the way. As parents, the learning curve is great and we’re all just doing the best we can.