Trusting Your Instincts

My son is a noisy breather. No big deal, right? But maybe he has enlarged adenoids, or maybe it is asthma, or maybe he stuck a little bead up his nose when I wasn’t looking. He’s three; they do that sort of thing.

Not the greatest picture, but here's me and my son, dressed as Captain America to get his flu shot. It was hard to hold him still and take the picture at the same time!
Not the greatest picture, but here’s me and my son, dressed as Captain America to get his flu shot. It was hard to hold him still and take the picture at the same time!

But you have no idea the amount of stress this is causing me.

For any other mother this is an easy decision. Trust your instinct! Take your kid to the doctor. Sure, it might be nothing, but at least you’ll know.

But I’m a mother who has lost a child, so this is not an easy decision. I don’t trust my instinct, because my instinct has failed me. Once I was in perfect tune with my children, so much that they were a part of me. With every breath I took in, with every heartbeat, my body provided them with nourishment. I could feel every hiccup. And I still didn’t know that inside me, they were dying. Not until it was too late.

So now when my children are sick, I don’t trust that I will know when it is serious enough to need medical attention. If I take them too often, will I be dismissed as the crazy woman who brings her kid in for every sniffle? Will my overprotective parenting scar my children for life because they were never allowed to just be kids? Or are they really sick, dangerously sick, and I just can’t see it?

My doctor reassures me. He reminds me that I am his patient too, so my mental health is important to him. He also tells me that often when a mother is talking about instinct, what she is really noticing is a change in her child’s behavior. This is what doctors focus on too. Is my son happy, playing normally, eating normally, getting into the usual mischief? Then he is either completely fine, or it isn’t something serious. Children who are very sick do not want to play, they do not want to eat anything (even cookies), they have trouble getting out of bed. My son doesn’t have any of these issues. He’s happy, he runs around like a crazy kid, he tries to jump off my furniture. I can relax.

Need a reputable source for health information? MedlinePlus is created by the National Library of Medicine and contains only health information and links that have been carefully selected by professionals. Another great source is, which is created by the Nemours Foundation and also contains great information written with parents in mind. Both these tools also have resources in both English and Spanish, and MedlinePlus has some information in other languages too. Both of these are better places to check instead of second guessing yourself with Dr. Google!

This post first appeared on Still Standing Magazine.

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