When sickness plagues the doorstep of a child, the internal gnashing of Mommy teeth begins, and the most treacherous, dreaded question of all Mommyhood must be addressed.

To take the child to the doctor or not.

The arguments begin like this…

1. If I take my kid to the doctor, am I going to be labeled as the HypochondriParent?

2. Or if I resist the urge of the doctor visit, will I eventually find out that my child now has a busted eardrum or pneumonia or the Bubonic Plague and then I will have to live with guilt for the rest of my life, as I nurse them perpetually due to their lifelong side effects?

3. Or am I going to take my child in, find out it’s viral and therefore nothing can be done, but while we’re there, allow said child to pick up a germ o’Stomach Virus?

4. Or is my child just going to get sicker and sicker and sicker and sicker for the rest of their life, all because I’m too much of a wuss to risk being the HypochondriParent!?!

5. Or am I going to go in, sit for hours in the waiting room and/or patient room, and literally watch my child heal automatically as they bounce off the walls and act as if nothing had ever been the matter with them?

Oh, the angst.

And then, when you try to explain the minimum of twenty Thought Process U-Turns to your husband regarding this Monumental Decision, you can literally watch him dying a little bit on the inside as he glazes over and replaces your audio frequency with a football game that occurred seven years ago.

Fortunately for me, my Pediatrician is super awesome and hip and understands the needs of the Modern Paranoid Mother (the MPM), and actually lets me email her for advice about when and when not to bring the kid in.

Which just means I then have to worry about whether or not I’m the HypochondriEmailingParent.

So sometimes, I grit my teeth, tell myself that I can make it without emailing or going in or taking my kid to the ER because I convince myself in the middle of the night that they have a nasty mixture of Rubella, Pertussis, and Croup, and just wait for them to miraculously recover from their minor cough and sniffles.


It’s hard.  It takes persistence and commitment and a complete resistance to all WebMD searches.  But if it succeeds, there is nothing in the world that is more rewarding than when they actually start to get better.

On their own.

Without any medical intervention.

Without a co-pay.

Without confirming that it’s just viral.

Without exposure to more germs.

They just….heal.

A couple of weeks ago, I experienced such ecstasy.  And I am STILL patting myself on the back about it.

Noah woke up laughing, and replaced his cough with giggles.


It was as if angels were shining down upon me.  I could nearly hear the heavenly choruses praising me for my excellent discernment in parenting.

And then, even Noah found it in his heart to reward my hard work.  He took a ….. four hour nap.

Although I felt unworthy of the ecstasy of that moment (and those four hours), I reminded myself: I EARNED IT.

31 thoughts on “The Ailing Angst.

  1. I have felt all of your scenarios at one time or another. Oh, the wasted co-pays! Oh, the times I should have rushed them in and didn’t! I can’t say it gets any easier or better as they get older either.

    So glad he is feeling better though!

  2. Oh.my.word!!! You took the post right off of my editing block ;) But seriously I was working on this exact same post! Last week Anderson had been fussing for 2 days, which he NEVER does, had trouble falling asleep, was sniffly & kept his hand by his right ear. I waited 36hrs before even calling to ask about coming in. Of course they said to. Guess what the Dr. said? “His ears look perfect” & then she could tell I was embarrassed & she was super nice which made me even more embarrassed! oh the ANGST! I left thinking, “Great! He probably got RSV while we sat up there!” I’m so afraid of them thinking I’m a “Munchousin Mom”…how the heck do you spell that??

    Great post & I felt your every anxiety!

    1. Ha!! I like Munchousin Mom a lot better than HypochondriParent! Yes, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten the report of perfect ears. No need to be embarrassed – I think we all do it!!

  3. Ain’t that the truth! JUST went through it – the worst is when I make an appointment, think about how 99% of the time it’s a wasted co-pay and a “just run the humidifier” event, and cancel it FIVE minutes later. That’s a common one over here.

  4. That moment when you’re sure they’re going to prescribe an antibiotic, because your child has a serious illness, and instead they say, “It’s a virus. You just have to wait it out.” Gah!

  5. This is such a hard thing. Thankfully it gets easier the older they get. I once took my son to the ER one evening after he had a gymnastics class then complained his neck was hurting and then vomited all over me. Of course I panicked and he was fine.

  6. Literally JUST went through this with S. She has been complaining of back pain for weeks and then one night last week said her tummy was hurting (two different times) and pointed to her appendix. So I made an appointment, took her in, got her to give a urine sample, and they said nothing is wrong: it’s probably just constipation. I never thought of that since we’ve never had that problem and she eats a lot of fruit. So frustrating. I’ve been giving her Fiber One “cookie bars” and not one complaint since. :P

    Glad you were able to skip the dr this time! :)

    1. P.S. our dr just changed offices and they have tons of exam rooms so you don’t wait in the waiting room. You go straight to your exam room. Seems a LOT less germy!

  7. I can’t believe you almost let your child die from the Bubonic Plague just to make some blogging material. What kind of mother are you?!

    Side note: I HATE visiting doctors office at this point. Granted, certainly not enough to NOT whisk an ill-princess off for a visit after a few sniffles (MPM FTW), but I sit there the whole ridiculous time feeling my soul shrivel up a little more just by being forced to be confined in that little medical space. Oh, and why are exam rooms not toddler-proofed when they make you sit there in them for freaking ever waiting? It’s a serious problem for those of us who have morals against just letting their children actively destroy the doctors office.

  8. THIS! I am so glad to know that I’m not the only parent out there that asks those same exact questions every singe time my kids are sick!

    My children’s schools make this a much bigger issue for us, however. If they have to miss more than two consecutive days, they must have a doctor’s excuse (for it to be an excused absence). This really sucks, especially when I KNOW what they have is viral and there is nothing that can be done about it other than comfort measures. So basically, I have to pay a huge copay just to get an excuse for school. A little over a year ago, I had to take Jameson in for them to tell me he had the flu (which we already knew he did, since 600 other students at his school had it) and while there, I caught the flu AND strep throat! That was a mighty expensive doctor’s excuse!

    Anyway, sorry for the rant! Glad Noah is feeling better!!

  9. I experience every one of these items when my girls get sick–including the glazed over husband look. I also hate it when they seem to improve in the waiting room (which you discussed) and I find myself saying things to the doctor like, I swear the child has been coughing/running a fever/being irritable/[enter whatever symptom]. I feel like an idiot. Too bad we can’t Skype with the doctor.

  10. I am so that Mom as well, even last time deciding to not give anything to reduce a low-grade fever with no symptoms. Luckily my four-year old seems to have my immune system and is very rarely sick (knock on wood). I have had to learn though to NEVER mention anything at all to my MIL, who is a nurse (that thinks she’s a doctor) and thinks he needs to be put on antibiotics at the first sign of a sniffle.

  11. You described it perfectly. Even when we didn’t have a co-pay while my husband was deployed I went through the angst of the rest of it. Seems like it’s 50-50 with my kids – half the time one has an ear infection or the other has croup and the other half of the time it’s just a virus. Aaargh!

  12. Oh my word, #5 happens to me ALL. THE. TIME. I swear, the waiting rooms have some sort of happy gas piped in, the way my kids perk right up as soon as I check us in at the counter. We actually went to Urgent Care the other day because my two year old was acting really lethargic and then started screaming when she peed and crying about how much it hurt. And this was after 3 days of low-grade fever. So I’m thinking UTI, of course, and it’s Saturday, of course – so we rush over there. She and my 4 year old start playing, jumping, singing – and everyone else (including the receptionist) is just staring at us – like “WHY are YOU here????” Of course she was fine. “Just a virus.” *sigh*

    1. I know – isn’t it insane??? Maddening, really.

      And yes, I’ve gotten the “it hurts to tee-tee” too – that one is the worst red herring of all!

  13. This post makes me nervous. I can count the number of sick-child dr visits I have made for both of my children on one hand. My neighbor’s kids have each had more antibiotics (and a dr visit for each prescription) in the last year alone than both my kids for their entire lives. My 2yr old is currently sick with a 102° temp and all I will do is give him tylonal, make him comfy and make sure he drinks. I did put off potty training too, tho. But I don’t understand the desire to go to the dr all the time. I rarely did as a kid so why should mine? And as an asthmatic who is allergic to the world I was never the epitome of Healthiness.
    So posts like this, and talking to people like my neighbor, always make me worried that I am failing my kids even if it turns out to be a false alarm, or “nothing I can do” or whatever.
    I suppose this gives me a sort of opposite angst.

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