Gut vs Brain

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July 9, 2012 by Melissa

I’m a pretty level headed person. I tend to weigh all options/sides. I rarely get too emotional. I also tend to be that way when thinking about my kids. Now, we’re dealing with a sick baby in our house at the moment-fever, throwing up, no appetite, etc. We had a busy weekend with lots of time outside in the sun and water, not a lot of sleep, not our normal food, and not our normal beds. I think that Alice just has a 24 hour bug but there’s always that little voice that harps at me from the back of my head that maybe it’s more serious. Maybe we missed a bug biting her, her drinking polluted lake water, her inhaling lake water, etc.

I was told a lot after having Lucy that I should always trust my gut as a parent and take her right in if I think she’s sick, but I don’t know if I would suggest the same to new parents. My gut usually says that everything is fine and to give things time but then my brain starts questioning my judgment and then the internal warring begins. Do we call the doctor? Do we take her in even though it’s only been 12 hours? What if she had meningitis? What if she’s dry drowning (don’t ever type things about your kid into WebMD if you want to remain sane)? This is where my gut turns on me. It starts to doubt and picture unimaginable and unlikely scenarios that I can’t forget.

I usually override this voice and wait-I’ve actually been told before by a nurse looking at my child’s history that if I felt it was serious I should come in because I never call. So I don’t want to be the overreacting parent but I also don’t want to be the negligent parent either.

It’s so difficult to tell what to do, especially when the kids are little-they can go from fine to a 104 fever in no time and it’s tough to wait that out and watch them be sick. You want to be actively doing something. Thank goodness my clinic has a nurse you can talk to on the phone 24 hours a day. They are the voice of reason at 3am when my kid is dry heaving from a fever or is moaning with illness. In this age of too much information and too many news stories about things going wrong despite all odds, it’s hard to silence the crazy voices within and outside.

Now, having said all this, there have been times my gut screamed out and I listened and was grateful. When Lucy was way too colicky in her 7th week, I called to see if the doctor could see her because I knew something was wrong and there was. She wasn’t gaining weight and we had to supplement with formula for a while. It did take me a while to call, though. I kept trying to tell myself that she was just colicky but finally I acted. I bawled in the doctor’s office-the exact image I was trying desperately to steer clear from.

I depend a lot on parents around me and that heavenly nurse’s line to be safe rather than sorry. But am I looking to reinforce my current opinion? How do you navigate these waters? Has your gut been wrong? Have you overreacted? Is there such a thing as overreacting when dealing with your child’s health?

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