Medical mamas are a unique breed. We complete medical care every day. We advocate for our babies, learn dozens of medical terms, and are on the front lines of our children’s care. And here’s what that medical mama friend of yours wants you to know . . .
Quit Watering Down Her Worries
Nothing is quite as frustrating as leaving an appointment discouraged, only to be slapped in the face with a list of reasons one should be thankful. Worry is worry and the worry of a mother is exceptionally heavy.
Never Say “At Least”
The phrase “at least” minimizes a mother and her child’s experience. You may have said this to an incredibly gracious mother, but I can assure you it did not go unnoticed.
Don’t Compare Her Child To Your Grandpa (Or Any Adult Family Member)
There’s a reason pediatric and adult care are separated. Their bodies are different and so are their experiences. Your grandpa had Type 2 Diabetes? Awesome (well, not really that still sucks). But it is quite different from Type 1 diabetes. Some of the most frustrating experiences have been when someone has unloaded their grandparent stories on me in an attempt to normalize our experience. Our experience isn’t normal. Most babies don’t spend time in the NICU. Most babies don’t wear oxygen. Be comfortable with our abnormal.
Don’t Offer Medical Advice
Unless you’re a part of the treatment team or a licensed pediatric physician, she’s not interested in what your Google search concluded. She’s spent hours listening to world-renowned physicians and other ancillary experts. In addition, she’s likely pinpointed some of the best and brightest to care for her child.
Respect Her Decisions
My daughter has been watched by three people—my mother, my husband’s aunt, and our sitter. That excludes a host of family members and friends who certainly feel entitled to participate in her care. As medical mamas, we experience a loss of control. We cling desperately to something we can control for our babies. Something that helps alleviate that protective drive that wakes us. For many of us, that comes down to who we let watch our babies.
Read The Room
Watch for cues and you can gauge what she needs. Is she giving you short, one-word answers? You may be pushing too hard. Is she oversharing? Maybe she needs to vent. Regardless, you are never entitled to information. Follow her cues.
Remember You Slept Through The Night; She Didn’t.
She was watching monitors or managing a feeding tube or treating low blood sugars. On her absolute best day, she didn’t sleep through the night. If she seems short, be gracious.
Acknowledge You Make Her Nervous
You believe RSV is a scare tactic and the flu is just a stomach bug (actually a respiratory virus, but I digress). You believe every baby should be greeted with a holy kiss. You make her a nervous wreck.
If You Don’t Know, Don’t Pretend
Pretending you understand creates an awkward dynamic. As mamas, we want the correct information about our children dispersed. When you confidently pretend to know, the medical mama will correct you, and it’s awkward for everyone. So if you don’t know—ASK.
Medical mamas are expected to champion the challenges without discussing the difficulties. You’re uncomfortable with what makes her life different. Let her be real about what her family looks like.
Originally published on the author’s Facebook page