Does the parenting guilt ever end?

No, I think not.

SillyBilly has asthma. For almost a year after we relocated from California to New York, he had no wheezing. We thought perhaps he had grown out of it, or maybe something in the air in Cal. had caused the problem.

In the last few months things have started to flare up again. We had to renew prescriptions, and started to actually use the nebulizer that we had hardly ever used before.

We finally got an appointment with the anthroposophical doctor, who prescribed several remedies to be taken daily, as a long-term constitutional approach.

SillyBilly was thrilled to learn that one of the remedies is actually made of meteors! (ferrum sidereum — helps with incarnation as well as finding equilibrium between outer influences and inner responses, e.g. asthma as a response to allergens).

We were doing well, remembering to take the remedies twice a day, plus an added bonus spoonful of local honey to assist with allergies, when early this week SillyBilly seemed to have a sniffly nose. The next day he had a little cough, but I wasn’t too worried about it.

The next day he was having a lot of coughing and wheezing, so we arranged another visit to the doctor. He prescribed different remedies for the acute phase of asthma.

I dutifully gave SillyBilly one dose of these remedies when we got home, and within half an hour he was having a severe asthma attack! I gave him some albuterol through the nebulizer, and called the doctor. He called back and told us to stop all of the other remedies and just use the acute remedies every two hours.

So far, things are calming down. We have only given SillyBilly one nebulizer treatment today, which is down from several a day plus once or twice in the evenings, which is a whole lot of albuterol for a little guy. He even got to go to the last day of summer day camp, though he came home early because he was not feeling great. (Though that turned out to be more just needing his Mama than anything physical.)

Where does the guilt come in?

Well, SillyBilly has had trouble with his lungs since his birth. He had severe meconium aspiration after being overdue 4 1/2 weeks. He was in the hospital for 31 days, had to have VV ECMO (blood bypass to allow his lungs to rest) for 10 days, and almost died.

I am having trouble not blaming myself. I chose to skip being induced at 42 weeks. I chose to go with a lay midwife at the last minute instead of continuing with the allopathic doctor. And I have a hard time not thinking that those choices “caused” SillyBilly’s lung problems.

I know it’s both incorrect and unproductive to blame myself. SillyBilly has his own karma to work out, as do I. But dealing with a sick child now makes it all the harder to knock off that kind of thinking.



Filed under Anthroposophy, Parenting

10 responses to “Does the parenting guilt ever end?

  1. Sasha

    My son was a month early. I wanted a midwife, but my own health at the time turned that pregnancy into a near-death experience, and they turned me away. It was hospital city for me baby. I hated it. My son has asthma too. It was pretty severe as a toddler, and he was on the nebulizer 2-3 times per day for a long time. Finally I got us both allergy tested (I have it too)and we both had a ton of allergies… to everything we loved, naturally. So the evil mommy stepped in and started cooking “healthy food” for him and his attacks stopped. He hasn’t had an attack in about 3 years, and he has been off all meds for that long. He is 8 now. Evil mommy has finally (yeah just this year) taken her own advice and stopped eating (sneaking) all the offending foods herself, and what used to be a “2 Advair blasts a day and albuterol as needed” regimen has turned into a “1 blast of Advair every 4 days or so” regimen…just in case, because I no longer have symptoms. It certainly wasn’t an easy transition, since the 20+ things we’re allergic to are in ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING it seems. Suddenly I had to learn to cook *gasp* rice and sweet potatoes. Yeah well I had to ask the grocer to point them out to me first. I had never seen a sweet potato outside the can. Sad, but hey there are bonuses to this change (I mean other than breathing). My skin cleared up. I lost 20 lbs in a month, and my son, who was diagnosed with everything from bipolar disorder to ADHD is now transitioning back to a normal elementary school. Even though I am overjoyed that he is making that transition, I feel bad that he has so many allergies. And since they pretty much parallel my own, I’m reasonably certain where he got them from. Mommy guilt. But I am glad we found out while he was still young and trainable. For the most part, when given an option, he makes healthy choices, because he doesn’t want to be sick again. I’m very proud of him.

  2. Helen

    The guilt never ends, does it? I’m sorry to hear about Silly Billy’s asthma and I hope he feels much better soon. Believe me, I have been racking myself over Kiko’s asthma too and wondering if X, Y and Z caused it. This wasn’t helped by the A&E doctor grilling me about his birth complications last week. Until now, I hadn’t thought there might be a connection between his birth and his asthma – great! Something else to beat myself up over! His food allergies also cause me no end of guilt. But really, when you come to think of it, so many children have asthma and food allergies. I’ve decided now that it’s just very bad luck. Unfortunately we don’t get to choose what health problems our children will have. In an ideal world it would be none but this is not an ideal world. I’m one to talk, today I was beating myself up wondering: “Maybe the fact I didn’t breast-feed Kiko weakened his lungs?!?!” But even if I rewound time there would be little I could do solve that one because I didn’t produce any milk! And he’d probably have asthma anyway…

  3. Henitsirk

    Sasha: I’m glad to hear your son (and you) are healing your allergies and asthma. I think allergic responses have so many components (physical, emotional, etc.) and so many triggers (food, emotions, etc.) that it’s hard work figuring out how to handle it.

    Plus there’s just some things the kids have to work out for themselves, and we can only help them along a little. And try to not blame ourselves too much!

    Helen: It must be hard on you that you couldn’t breastfeed, given the absence of tolerance toward formula in alternative parenting circles. While I think it’s great that nursing is given such positive promotion, there is a definite lack of consciousness that there are just some times when it won’t happen, and the mother isn’t a bad parent for it.

    And your comment about so many children having allergies these days points to something anthroposophical medicine talks about a lot: some illnesses are more prevalent today because of modern life, even modern consciousness in a way. You’re inspiring me for another post…

  4. Papa Bradstein

    Guilt like that is so hard, or maybe even impossible, to shake that it may not be worth the effort. You’re doing wonderful things by redirecting the energy of all that guilt into actions that help him feel better now, rather than into thoughts that make you feel worse about back then. It’s possible to be a guilty feeling and a good parent at the same time, as you prove.

  5. Helen

    Just to add to what I said about so many kids having asthma these days – one of my personal theories is that pollution is a cause. The traffic fumes near where we live are terrible and I spend an hour at the day at the very least pushing Kiko out in his pram. It’s such a bad situation – stay stuck in the house or be caught in traffic fumes. Really, governments need to be seriously tackling air pollution. (I also believe that food additives can cause asthma, and while we can’t avoid those completely I’m making sure Kiko’s diet is as additive-free as possible).

  6. kjg

    Kristine, it doesn’t matter what you do – if you allow yourself to second-guess your decisions, you will always find ways to feel guilty.

    This journey through life (especially parenting) has taught me a lot about accepting “what is”, and working with understanding how I got here (no guilt) and seeking awareness of the gifts of the situation. Sometimes feeling the pain of “what is” is the gift in that I can now resonate or sympathize with someone whom I might previously have judged.

    Having said all that, it really is difficult to remember, and the pain can be a real drag.

    But, I’m practicing with it all. That is what this lifetime is about – practicing to become more conscious. And our lives are always serving it up with opportunities. (AFGO = another f—— growth opportunity)

    I know you were making the best possible choices you could make at the time, and the outcome is NOT your fault. It’s hubris to take too much responsibility for the circumstances of our lives.

    Silly Billy and you (and all of us) are working out some soul contracts together.

    All the very best to you both, along with Papa and Becky!

    Karen Gimbel

  7. Henitsirk

    Papa B: You’re right, I think the best thing is to just redirect that energy. These thoughts only come up for me when the boy’s really sick, because I’m just so worried. And feeling impotent because I can’t “fix” it.

    Helen: Yes, we have created many more triggers for these allergic responses with our modern technology. I think that the root of allergies is not the triggers themselves, however, but that’s another post…

    Karen: Yes, there is an element of hubris in all this. It’s a funny mirroring of how the kids think/assume the world revolves around them. And yes, the best thing I think is to learn from the past in order to improve the future and become more conscious. I often remind myself that I was making the best decisions I could at the time…I guess I just wish I had been more self-confident at the time.

  8. szilvi

    not being induced, midwife-assisted birth, meconium, etc.,- OK, they MIGHT have “caused” his problems. BUT. You made the choices you did because the alternative looked to be more dangerous, in many ways. You have no idea, what health problems SillyBilly might have now, if he had gotten caught in the hospital routine.
    ‘My’ midwife (with whom I had all four of my children at home) carefully monitors overdue pregnancies, and probably so did your.

    I am glad to have found your blog, I will be reading it. We’re a “waldorf-family” in Budapest, Hungary, my husband is American. Since living in the States is an option always open to us, I am interested to see how (hard) life is over there if you want to stay away from the mainstream.

  9. Henitsirk

    Welcome Szilvi!

    Yes, my midwives did their best, as did I. In fact after their experience with my birth, they changed some of their procedures for dealing with overdue babies and how they interact with hospitals. The hospital we were admitted to (chosen by the midwives because they were “friendly” to midwife admits) essentially told them never to come back. I don’t know how it is in Hungary, but in the US midwives are looked upon with suspicion at best and hounded into quitting by legalities at worst.

    I would love to talk to you more about your experiences and mine…feel free to email me directly if you like.

  10. szilvi

    In Hungary it is essentally illegal to give birth at home. :-/
    I’m not kidding. It is my civil right, by law, to give birth wherever I choose to, but a doctor/midwife will be persecuted if they assist my birth. There are less than a handful of renegate midwives here, who “service” those who even take upon themselves all the hassles facing them after the birth, only to stay out of hospitals (provided all is going well, naturally.) It took us almost four weeks to get our fourth child’s birth certificate, for instance…

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