...is the process by which we create, discover, learn and grow with those we cherish most.


mothers do know better


Noah strutted around us as if the bruising around his eye was a figment of our imaginations. We tried to sustain as much of a normal routine as he was used to - cautioning Ava to be "extra careful" around Noah's face - no matter how tempting it was to slug him after knocking down her castle - three times in a row.

When Dr. Lee, the on-call pediatrician, first looked at Noah, he scrunched his face and made that "ouchi" noise as if he just witnessed Noah getting hit with a bat right then and there. Of course, I tense up. "What is it? What do you see?" - but within seconds learn that this was his way of empathizing with us. I felt immediate comfort with him - and how clearly he understands parents' reactions to such occurrences. Noah wouldn't let Dr. Lee touch his eye - no matter how much we bribed him with candy, stickers, or juice. And Dr. Lee said not to worry. Here's what we do... and here's what we don't do... and so on...

And just when I thought I had everything under control from this experience, taking extra care of my Noah - licking his wounds and protecting him from the salvages of childhood injuries, we visited a children's ophthalmologist at Children's Medical Center in Plano. I'll forego mentioning a name here – because what I’m about to tell you is so unnerving, that you may find yourself casting stones at this office – if not boulders.

This experience I can’t even wish on my worst enemy. For one, I don’t have one. But if I did – I wouldn’t want this to happen to you. It has me bent over backwards and on the verge of mandating that they take a course on how to handle children with care and communicate with parents – and not be able to practice until they have done so. They clearly must have failed the first time the course was offered (I'm sure of it).

Deep breath. [Exhale]. When the nurse asked me to bring Noah into another room to dilate his eyes, she didn't explain what she was doing. I've had my eyes dilated before - no big deal right? But then again, I wasn't two years old – nor did I have an orbital fracture. She asked the assistant doctor on duty to hold Noah's head down and for me to hold his hands down. Like robots - we did. I just did what I was told, not questioning what she was going to do - or even flinch when Noah physically disapproved of the entire arrangement. They are the experts. Who am I to know any better?

Since having children -from doctors to lactation nurses - I have somehow made myself feel that I don't know anything. That I should do what I am told. Because after all - they went to medical school. And that gives them all the authority they need to do whatever they want. Because they know.

I tried to soothe Noah as I held his hands - telling him that he's such a "big boy" and that "they are going to fix your eye Noah!" while holding his hands crossed over his chest. His body wrangling from underneath me, I can't help but to slowly let go - I have never been in a situation to force him physically like this. The nurse, prying his injured eye with both hands, squirts 2 drops inside - and does the same to the other. I see the effort roll right off his cheeks. He is crying. Heavily. His one good eye shut so hard, I can see every wet lash pressed – and curled together in vain.

But it wasn't until his loud cry for mercy – one that I have never heard before - that I snapped out of my insecurities and told the nurse to "stop. Stop. Hold On!" and then pull him away. In my arms he continued to cry - hyperventilating until I could calm him down and point to a playground outside the window – where we would go when we were finished if he’d let them. (Awful mother. Still bribing him.)

Embarrassed by Noah’s demonstration - both the nurse and doctor stood behind me in silence. I hear their thoughts in my head - what kind of a mother are you? We’re doing this for his own good. You're wasting our time. You spoil your kids don't you? What? You don’t ever let your kids cry?

The nurse finally speaks out loud to me and says, "OK Mama. We can skip the third eye-drop. But we must do the fourth one. That one is the most effective."

In an attempt to prove myself - my motherly convictions that "mother's do know best" - (which is what the doctors say is the best) I lay him down, tell him to sit tight, be strong, and that it'll be over soon... when once again, the earth begins to shake.

Only this time, they don't stop at my interjections. As if they vetoed my protests and thought they were doing us the favor - she forced his eye open and continued to squeeze drops into his eyes. I am having an out-of-body experience I tell myself. This isn't really happening! Delayed by the shock of it all, my voice exploded out of me and I pulled him straight to my chest and walked out of the room.

I took Noah into the examining room - where we had left Aaron and Ava. Noah was able to calm down – after seeing that it was just the 4 of us in the room. Distracted by a barking toy dog, I rattle off to Aaron how horrific the experience was. But Aaron, trying to be tough and realistic looked at me with the, “I’ll go finish with Noah.” But before he could finish that thought I dart Aaron an evil "don't you dare!" look to buy me enough time to reason with him that this process was unprofessional and unnecessary. Visits to the doctor should not be like this. We should be told what to anticipate – what the tests are for. What to expect or how some children may react… They tormented him! They didn’t stop when I told them to…. of course, my voice comes back to me and I am able to confront the incident and tell the jury in the room everything that had happened – but only wished I had much, much earlier – when my tongue was glued to the back of my throat.

The doctor finally shows up, flashes her lights in Noah's eye - and proclaims that there is no damage to his eye. He will be fine. Relieved - somewhat - I am curious about the ordeal we just went through. Since Noah didn't get "all 4 drops" in each eye - was she still able to see everything she needed to see? Before I could finish this thought, Ms. Hyde in Dr. Jekyll turns to me in defense and says, "I just told you. He's fine. You can see for yourself. His pupils are dilated just fine."

Just fine I think. Then why didn't your nurse stop? Why was she so persistent on forcing him to take all 4? Then make me feel like the worst mother on this planet when I wouldn’t let her finish? Why didn't she just quit after one drop – and see if it worked, instead of making him go through all of that - when one, as it turned out, was all that you needed to see he was ok? I ask these questions to the wall behind her - then collect my things. Slowly. No longer acknowledging her. Or her time. Or the nurses poised outside our door waiting to see some reaction.

The doctor's last words to us were - "your exit is on the left." And we ignore her. I couldn't help it. The last hour was spent riding on the trust of these complete strangers - rather than my own child. I'll never have that hour back. I did know better, but I traded that innate feeling inside because I have always listened to people carrying badges. But when it comes to your child - badge or no badge - a mother's instinct should always prevail. And this I am slowly learning. I can only hope that Noah will trust me again.

As we gathered our things, we walked slowly towards the check-out - and took our time picking out our favorite stickers and black plastic sunshields provided for patients - disregarding anyone else in the room - just because...


  1. I'm proud of Zarlacht for sticking to her guns one this one. I seriously doubt I would have.

    I have always trusted professionals' opinions and just don't think they would do anything that they were not supposed to do. And if you asked the Ophthalmologist, I'm sure they would convince you of the same - because they are not deliberately trying to be evil. (they just end up being that way)


    Lessons to be learned from this experience...

    1. Don't let anyone other than yourself control the pace in situations like this. You are a paying customer and should be treated as such.

    2. Come with a general understanding of what is going to happen, and make sure you have questions ready. If you are not comfortable with the doctor, turn and leave. There are dozens of others to choose from.

    3. Imagine the situation like your child is experiencing it. There is no need to scar your child for life and make them fear going to a doctors office when it really should not be scary at all!

    4. Pack a few extra goodies for the kids just in case the appointment goes longer than anticipated.

  2. I agree with taking control of what is happening to your child when others are involved. Yet we must realize that there will be times that no matter what- it has to be done. I have been present in rooms where children were tied down in order to place an IV
    -sometimes all we can do is hold their hands and give them a soothing voice.

  3. Oh dear! I know what you are saying is true - but it's just so hard for me to accept. I guess for one thing - the nurse asked me to hold him down. The fact that it was my own hands crossed over his chest, and I could feel the pulse of his arms straining against mine - that really got to me. And knocked me into reality that this just wasn't right. There has to be a better way. When is healthcare going to catch up with technology and all we have to do is scan kids while their snoozing? ;)I bet that's what they do in Japan already...

  4. My dearest Zarlacht,

    Don't feel upset. You have every right to be angry. As a nurse, I completely understand your sediment. According to the law, the nurse and the doctor had the obligation to tell what they are doing to you, why they are doing it, how it works, and how they are going to do it. It's called informed consent. After being a nurse for over a year now, I have seen a large specturm of the good and bad. It is not technology (sometimes technology makes it worst which is another other topic that i can yada yada) but humans that are corrupting healthcare. I know doctors and nurses that I would not let them touch me or my family/friends. Just because you have a degree, license, or badge does not mean you are right. Always ask questions. If they get upset with you, then it's their problem. Find another doctor. I have seen so much in the hospital that it has made me more appreciative of what I have. Sorry that I believe that if they had explained the whole situation before they acted, you could have made better choices on how to handle the situation. He needed to have his eyes dilated to ensure there was no damage, but their professionalism was so wrong. Do know that not all us medical professionals are like that. Noah now has another reason for a tattoo. As your friend and a nurse, I promise to only give you a suppository when you need it and not for shits and giggles.

    Love Noah, Ava, Sophia, Humzah only.....

    Aunt Saralee

  5. WOW - Saralee! If I was near you I'd squeeze you until you split open! Thank you soo much for this. I really needed to hear some sort of validation for this whirlwind of feelings. Aaron and Wagma have been telling me that sometimes things "just have to get done" whether we like it or not. But as you have totally picked up on - this was not an experience that I could let happen. It was so surreal!
    Which makes me curious and afraid to think about - health professionals that act so unprofessional and people who accept it because they feel like they have to. I guess it's old school way of thinking. I've been brought up thinking that "they know best" - and we never really questioned anything - ever. But now, as a parent myself, it's a whole new ball game. And I'm learning now, that that is no longer the case. We do have choices.

    Thanks Saralee - so glad you picked this field to watch my back... ;)
    p.s. I love how you keep bringing up Noah's earned tattoo - he is such a rebel!

  6. Zarlacht, I understand this very well!
    When Zoe was born, it was three days like this in our lives! With awfull doctors telling us (or not telling anything) idiotic things about her health and prognosis (she had a minor breathing distress and they kept her in neonatal care for three days... the first three days of her life! And we couldn't hold her, or I couldn't breastfeed her). We were so mistreated as parents and as intelligent people... It's so sad.
    Also, as I briefly tell here (http://juliealvarez.blogspot.com/2008/05/una-de-cal-una-de-arena-la-vida.html) Zoe had a minor accident once, and we went through a very similar experience (I had to "force" her to the x-ray table, because she was terrified). The difference was that the x-ray woman wasn't as mean as this nurse of yours. But it was awful. And I know that if we hadn't been so pressed by the time (other patients waiting, etc.) I could have convinced Zoe very much easily to do it.
    Anyway, you can always learn something from these experiences (as Aaron says), right?
    I hope Noah is just fine (don't worry, he knows that YOU were helping him, no matter what you did).

  7. Kiwi Daughter and Little Mr. had medical difficulties immediately after birth for completely different reasons and I'll readily admit that on both occasions invasive steps were taken in haste and I felt powerless and frustrated at how quickly sidelined my husband and I were by medical professionals.

    Among other things Little Mr had to have a needle inserted directly into his abdomen to get a "clean" urine sample that hadn't been exposed to air, his discomfort was all too obvious even though he was drifting in and out of consciousness.
    Later we went to a follow up visit in another hospital (where Kiwi Daughter had been treated) and spoke to a pediatric specialist.
    Little Mr had gotten increasingly feverish in the course of a single evening,after only a few days back home: stopped breastfeeding, no wet nappies and was getting listless. We went to the weekend 24 hour GP in the middle of the same night and just over an hour he was admitted into intensive care in a childrens hospital on the other side of the city.

    Yes, the tests were awful but taking time to calm him would have endangered his life because at that moment every minute was critical.
    Both the second Dutch pediatrician and a family friend (Dr.) in New Zealand I told everything to in detail came to the same conclusion as the original specialists: it was sepsis which apparently he was prone to because he'd been born premature.
    When later I heard how close we were to having lost him, I better understood how the seemingly old and efficient manner he was first dealt with mattered.
    If we had taken time to cuddle or sooth him it might have well been the very last time we would have gotten to do it.

    These health professionals did not have the emotional investment (dare I say it more bluntly "baggage")that we did but they VERY much had our newborn's best interests at heart and they worked exceptionally hard to save him.
    Only later did we realise how much the speed of his medical attention really mattered.
    Was it fun? Of course not, it was a harrowing experience but having other people working like a well drilled army saved our child's life.
    The same can be said for our daughter was was totally unresponsive after a difficult birth... different hospital, different staff, same dedication to do everything in their power.
    Sometimes as parents we simply have to sideline our feeling s in situations like this: long winded discussions with us telling us every detail would have jeopardised our childrens lives, so we had to take the mega short version of events in a few sentences and trust them to give us all the details later (which they did).

    The real question to ask as a parent is: what risk are they exposing your child to if they DON'T do as many of the drops as possible as quickly as possible?
    Let THAT answer validate your feelings and NOTHING else... it might turn out that speed was the most precious thing he needed too at that split second in time. Weigh up the options: a child blinded v's a child pacified, *maybe* there is another side of the coin? It's always worth finding out.
    No one doubts you love Noah... HE know's that no matter what, never fear on that account. He trust you, you have to trust others sometimes too. I hope he's feeling a LOT better, and YOU too :)


Thanks for sharing - I will respond to your comment here as well so check back! xo


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