I’ve considered myself and my husband to be reasonably healthy people. Sure, our diets and exercise levels certainly could use some improvement, but I typically only see my primary care physician annually. My husband never even went to the doctor until we were together. It’s safe to say that nothing could have prepared us for the onslaught of sickness we experienced this year. My mom friends and coworkers warned me, but I equate this with pregnancy and labor: nothing anyone ever tells you can prepare you for the actual experience.
Carson started daycare at 4 months old. He was still a super tiny nugget at that time. I think we made it through a solid month (and two plane trips, I might add) before the first real sickness set in. It was a doozy. I tried not to give in to my anxieties and be the mom that rushes her kid to the doctor all the time. From my time spent practicing in primary care, I know that there is a certain attitude health care providers have towards patients who appear to be antibiotic-seeking. I felt like I did not want to take up an appointment slot in our busy pediatrician’s day with something that was self-limiting and could be treated at home. I chalked his cough up to teething, daycare, anything else besides something serious. I downplayed it when family, friends or daycare would show concern. I let my worries of how our pediatrician would perceive me get the best of me. By the time I took Carson in, he had low oxygen levels and was given a nebulizer in the office. We went home with a nebulizer device, prescription antibiotic and instructions to come back in a few days if not better. The diagnosis was pneumonia. How, as a nurse practitioner, could I miss the signs of pneumonia and let my baby suffer? The mom guilt went into overdrive.
After some rough days and nights, the pneumonia got better and we went on our merry way. The months that followed, and up until this day, Carson has been sick every 2-3 weeks or so. He will get the typical runny nose, cough, and red face. He might be a little fussier than normal. I kept him home a few times from daycare because of a fever. I sanitized everything. I tried to breastfeed more. And then the symptoms would set in with myself, or my husband. Only once did it knock me on my ass so hard that I stayed home from work. Though I almost feel like trying to push through illness and continue to go about our daily lives was worse. Why is it, as parents, that we don't give ourselves the grace and consideration to heal so that we can be our best selves for others?
Following the pneumonia experience, I told myself I wouldn't let my predisposed notions of how healthcare providers perceive "annoying" patients hold me back from seeking the care I wanted. Being part healthcare provider and part mom is something I have definitely struggled with. It is so difficult to put that "hat" aside, and fully wear the mom "hat". I know too much, but too little. I can read healthcare articles and peer-reviewed articles with a different lens than some other moms.
Our healthcare system, though quite flawed, has made advancements in recent years. Incorporating technology in patient treatment has been revolutionary. As a nurse practitioner, I work in telemedicine. I see first hand, every day, the difference that technology makes in my patients' lives. In my personal experiences, the accessibility I have to my son's pediatrician via technology has helped me get over myself and not feel guilty about taking up their time. I can send a quick message and photos via the Kaiser app, and within a few hours, I hear back from the RN or the pediatrician himself as to what they think I should do. Our pediatrician's office also offers easy appointment scheduling via the app, and this includes telephone appointments as well.
We are all so busy and trying to balance so many moving parts in our day to day lives. I am all about finding hacks or other ways to make the grind of parenting easier. PSA: I would encourage any mama to get to know their healthcare coverage and their primary care/pediatricians office practices approach to telehealth! There are many great options that save you time/money and save their time as well.
One thing I have tried to incorporate to boost Carson's immune system (besides having a healthy, balanced diet) is elderberry syrup. The Western-medicine trained healthcare provider in me loves that there is evidence to back this up. While there is a variety, one study I looked at was done on air travelers and showed a 2-day reduction in cold symptoms with the use of elderberry supplementation.
Many cough syrups and other medications in a similar vehicle are not appropriate for young children and infants for a variety of reasons. When I saw Sambucol come out with a formulation for infants, I was excited to try it! It was honey-free, and less viscous than other syrups. Carson gets excited to take in the mornings. We do 1ml per day.
There do not seem to be any obvious drawbacks that I can see, so it is something I am comfortable continuing!
Tiralongo E, Wee SS, Lea RA. Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Nutrients. 2016;8(4):182. Published 2016 Mar 24. doi:10.3390/nu8040182
Note: this is meant to inform and entertain. This is not meant for medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice specific to you.
Hi! I'm Laura, a 30-something mama raising her 2 little dudes in southern California. It's been quite a journey and this is my way to try to make sense of it all. This is a safe space for all moms to get some laughs, recommendations and feel like they are not alone.