One of the most important things I learned early on in my son’s NICU journey was how important it was to be my child’s voice and advocate. Being thrown into a scary new world full of doctors, nurses and therapists, I knew I had to be educated on what every medical term meant. I not only wanted to know what terminology they were referring to, but also wanted to be in the loop when it came to my son’s care so I could step up and voice my concerns.
Thankfully, our NICU journey is behind us, but we are still faced with many specialist appointments and therapies. I’m thankful to have a great team of therapists and specialists for my son, but there are times that I still have to be his voice (even though he is babbling) in determining what is best for his health and care. Below are a few strategies that have helped me through the past 2 years as I try to be the best voice I can be for my son.
Being Your Child’s Voice
Educate Yourself – Sure, Dr. Google can be scary at times, but it’s better glancing over a few terms of a condition then going into an appointment blindly and hurriedly asking Siri what a term means. Taking the time to research what could possibly be affecting your child will allow you the opportunity to be prepared and educated to ask questions at your child’s appointment. With the internet at our fingertips, we have tons of tools to help us.
Speak Up – Don’t agree with a treatment or diagnosis? It’s okay to verbalize your concerns and even challenge a doctor or therapist if you don’t agree with their recommendations.
Shop Around – Having dealt with numerous doctors and therapists, I can honestly say that some of them weren’t the perfect fit for my family. I asked family and friends for reviews and just shopped around for medical professionals that worked for us. Always know that you have a choice.
Document EVERYTHING – Let’s be realistic: honest mistakes happen, and medical offices are not immune to a slip of the pen or misplaced paperwork. Keeping a document of your child’s health is a great resource for you to stay on top of things and will be a fantastic reference when you try to remember what antibiotic made which child break into a rash 5 months ago.
Trust Your Mommy Instinct – Feel like something just isn’t right? Always trust your gut! If something simply doesn’t feel right with your child, you are probably right. Mommy instinct rarely fails.
Great post! If they can’t say anything for themselves, you definitely need to do so for them. Although doctors and therapists DO have tons of knowledge and are correct many times, that isn’t always the case, and people need to be aware of that.
These are excellent tips Mary! I definitely learned to not be afraid to ask questions to the doctors when Addison was in the NICU, even if I had already asked them before. We know our children better than anyone & they need us to be their voice when it’s most important!
I totally agree with the trusting your instinct piece – more than once my husband has suggested we ignore something when it’s turned out to be roseola or an ear infection or something else. Admittedly those are “minor” issues in the scheme of things BUT always better to get a professional opinion or pursue treatment when you think something is off.