Today I felt like a bad parent.

Let me back up. I took Weston for his one year doctor's appointment, which is totally routine. Jenny came with us (thankfully), because she knows that I get particularly nervous about any doctor's visit, and wanted to be there to lend an extra hand, which, turns out, we needed. When I look back on today, which ended up being a delightful day, there were things about the visit which just really churn my stomach. When I became a mother, my instinct to protect and care for Weston kicked in long before he was born, but sometimes, being strong and figuring how how to care and protect for your child takes some learning and trial and error. Today was one of those days.

In the waiting room, he was totally fine. We held him, walked around, watched the TV. However, once we got into the room and started to undress him, he completely flipped out. I don't blame him! He was in a new environment, with someone new, and was getting naked? That would scare me too! Weston isn't a crier, he may whine and cry when he doesn't want to go to sleep on occasion, but crying just isn't his thing. However, as soon as the stethoscope hit his chest, there was full on wailing and screaming for the next half an hour. I felt miserable for him. When the nurse asked me to un-diaper him and sit him on the scale, he wouldn't stay still and kept reaching out for me. My heart was breaking, and it was dangerous! She suggested lying him down, and the poor thing did that horrible silent scream where they revert back to looking like a newborn, and they can't even scream they're so upset. Again, I upset also. Naked, lying on a cold surface, in the most vulnerable position ever? Yes, I would scream too. Because he kept wriggling around, the nurse was waiting for the scale to find a measurement, and though the same number kept coming up, she kept insisting on keeping him there longer and longer. Weston was in a total panic at this point.

At this point, I should have stepped in. I should have been strong. I should have stopped the nurse from making silly "shh-shh" sounds and picked up my child. But, I didn't. I kept trying to calm him down and hoping he would lie still (ha) for just one more second so she could finally get her number. I feel like I let him down, I should have picked up my screaming baby and held him in my arms, and I didn't.

Finally, she suggested that I get on the scale holding Weston, and then Jenny took Weston, and I weighed myself, and she found his weight that way. But, at that point, he was just done, and screamed all during the doctor's visit with him (and she's the most sweet and calm doctor!). Of course, we had to wait around for his vaccine, and the poor thing kept screaming and pointing at the door to go. It was heart wrenching.

Often, when we look at babies, we forget how much they process. Will Weston remember that moment? No, most likely not. Will he remember the feeling? I believe so. If not consciously, than perhaps subconsciously. As I watched the nurse insist on lying him down and not ending the moment sooner, it dawned on me that so often in the realm of babies we forget a simple fact: that they are human. They they deserve the same rights we, adults, do. If an adult was forced to lie there naked and crying, we would amend the situation to alleviate the stress, so why not for a baby? Why was it okay for us to stand there and try to relax him when that obviously wasn't working? He didn't know why he was naked, or cold, or lying down, all he knew was that he was scared. It's my job to help him navigate the world, and today, I feel like I didn't navigate his ship very well.

But, as with all things, I look back on that scene, see how I would do it differently, and now I will. Next time, I will lift him up and proclaim that that wasn't working and could we calm him down for a moment or try something else? Feeling the need to protect your child may come naturally to most people, but learning how to protect them can be a process, especially when you yourself are nervous.

Parenting isn't easy, but if you're open to learning, it can make certain next times easier than the first. There are so many boundaries in life to realize and acknowledge, and I certainly won't always be there to make my son happy and safe, but at that moment, I could have moved a little quicker; I won't continue beating myself up about it, but the teacher in me will chalk this up to a "teachable moment" and move on, lesson learned.

One Comment

  1. I've had this happen too. And with the nurse arguing with me for a urine sample from a 15 month old full flip out. I handed her the cup and said we are done here. Is hard not to beat ourselves up because we want to be good parents. We just have to remember we are!