Medication checklist is checked off but a mother still finds her children needing to go to the hospital giving her mom guilt.

Oh Great! Now I Have Guilt!

To quote Rex from the movie Toy Story, "Oh Great! Now I Have Guilt!"

Parenthood.

It can be a long-awaited time for many of us - but it can also be filled with different emotions.

When my three kids were little, I was an expert at mom guilt. I felt like everything was my fault.

My kids were in the hospital 15 times (not including surgeries for various medical problems). We had a running tab with the billing office at the hospital (not kidding). I really hate the hospital. It just did not seem fair.

12 of those hospitalizations were for asthma. I could not help thinking I was a complete failure trying to manage their asthma.

Did I miss something?

Every week, I would put a color coded chart on the fridge. I would assign a different color to each kid and track each activity. I would check off:

  • Morning and night doses of their controller inhaler
  • Night dose of allergy pill
  • Morning dose of allergy nose spray
  • Twice weekly allergy shots

But when my kids would get sick, they would get REALLY sick REALLY fast.

The asthma doctor would tell me to watch for certain symptoms, and if I saw them, to start my kids on oral steroids. I had a bottle at home for my middle son and one for my daughter. Asthma Doc told me, "If they get worse - start the oral steroids! Don’t wait until morning to ask me if it’s okay. Just start them! THEN call me and tell me you started them. Bring them in and I will listen to their lungs."

I did exactly what he told me to and they would STILL end up in the hospital! Argh!

Many years of mom guilt

This was years before social media was invented. So I did not have other moms to talk to about asthma. My friend's kids never ended up in the hospital - so what was I doing wrong?

I would call Asthma Doc from my kid’s hospital room and say "Guess where we are? Again?!" And then I would start to cry.

When my kids would get a cold, I knew I had two days until they ended up in the hospital (usually thanks to pneumonia). A cold for my kids (and I) will ALWAYS turn into pneumonia. I really hate asthma. It makes every respiratory infection worse. My kids have a habit of going downhill very quickly. Asthma Doc knew that, and I knew that, but emergency room (ER) doctors didn’t know that about my kids. I would tell the ER doc that I’m not leaving the ER. As soon as my kid falls asleep, their oxygen level will drop to 87. Just wait. And it would. And they would be admitted (again).

What I did not know back then is that there are different types of asthma, and finding the right inhaler for the right type of asthma can be tricky. Also, people have different severities of asthma. Mild, moderate, and severe asthma are all treated differently. And severe asthma is the hardest to control.

Even Asthma Doc would sigh and run his fingers through his hair while looking at Middle Son’s chart. He asked permission to discuss my son’s case with colleagues at a national conference. He couldn't figure out why we could not control my son's asthma.

I learned that I wasn't doing anything wrong! See-ya mom guilt! My son had difficult to control asthma.

In 2003, a new type of medication came on the market, called a biologic. I practically begged Asthma Doc to let my son start the injections. Middle Son was on the highest and maximum dose of asthma medications, and would still end up in the hospital. Insurance readily approved the biologic (since the medication was less expensive than a hospital stay).

And...it worked! My son would get sick, and he would start breathing treatments - and he would get better! What is this madness? Is this how it is for other moms? Kids can actually respond to breathing treatments and GET BETTER?!

All those years of mom guilt - for nothing! We just had to wait for science to catch up with my son's type of asthma.

My message to fellow asthma moms

For all of you moms out there, please do not feel responsible if your child ends up in the hospital. You can do everything right but they may have severe asthma that is difficult to control.

Moms are amazing! And don't let anyone or anything make you feel otherwise!

Has anyone else felt mom guilt? (Or dad guilt? Or grandparent guilt?)

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