Any time my kids get sick (beyond a sniffle), my anxiety goes into overdrive. I lie half-awake, attentive to every little sound like make as they’re sleeping. I jump at the slightest spike in their fever, or worsening of symptoms. I used to think it was because I’m an all-round Nervous Nelly, but I’ve realized over the years that we mothers are basically all wired that way — to be finely attuned to our kids’ needs whenever they’re under the weather.
And now, one mom is speaking out to tell parents everywhere that we should embrace those “mama bear” instincts that take over during times of illness — because our “overprotective” behavior might one day make all the difference.
Margaret Bradford, a mom of four with one on the way, shared a Facebook post June 16 about a harrowing experience she recently had with her 1-year-old daughter Harper. In it, she shared just how the power of her mama instincts ultimately ended up saving her daughter’s life.
The post, which was shared on her personal Facebook page as well as the popular breastfeeding page Breastfeeding Mama Talk, is quickly going viral. And it’s easy to see why: It offers an assuring message so many of us moms need to hear, and it also shows how strong we mothers are, and have the potential to be.
Bradford begins by assuring us all that our “mama bear” instincts really are that powerful, and never, ever something we should ignore:
“Parents, I say this with every ounce of sincerity I have,” she begins, “YOU know your children better than anyone else in this world. You have been there with them for everything. You have changed every diaper, cuddled away every tear, kissed every booboo, cheered every milestone, hugged away every scary monster, and rejoiced in every smile. YOU know your children. Do not ever let anyone make you feel like you don’t.”
Bradford goes on to explain that she has been in the position of being an advocate for her children’s health in the past. As she tells Babble, her 4-year-old son Gavin has a heart defect, which has led her to work closely with members of her state government on a bill that would require all hospitals to do a mandatory “Pulse Ox” screening for congenital heart defect detection in all newborns.
Still, when she needed to bring her daughter Harper into the ER this past week, Bradford was taken aback by how she alleges several members of the medical team treated her concerns about her daughter’s illness. In fact, she claims they not only blew off her concerns, but shamed her for having them in the first place.
For three days, Bradford’s daughter had been running high fevers (in the 105° range), and that she’d been doing everything in her power to help her daughter feel better. Not wanting to rush to the doctor prematurely, she was treating her with at-home remedies for as long as she could.
“Not one to typically rush to the doctor for every bug,” she explains, “I did everything I typically do when my kids are sick. I cuddled and kissed and medicated and treated her with my very best.”
But after the third day, as the fever continued to rise, Bradford decided to take her daughter to the ER. When she got there, she says her serious concerns about her daughter’s health were rudely brushed off, and the doctors there decided against doing any of the tests that she thought were warranted, given her daughter’s condition.
“The doctor there saw her, heard our situation, and after an X-ray of her stomach and a cath for a UTI check, decided I was a young mom with no clue,” says Bradford. “The requests I made for more extensive testing — full blood work including CBC, BMP, and spinal — went ignored, and we were discharged with the diagnosis ‘virus, probably, she’ll be fine.’”
But, as Bradford declares, “He was wrong.”
When her daughter’s fever spiked the next day to 106.3°, the mom’s instincts told her something more serious was going on, and instead of chalking the whole thing up to being “just a virus,” the mother decided to get a second opinion.
“Immediately,” she shares, “I called our family doctor’s office and after a conversation with our doctor’s on-call partner, it was decided the best course was to bring her back to the Children’s ER and demand the testing we had been previously denied.”
And that’s just what Bradford did. After another examination by a different doctor, it was determined that Harper’s condition was just as serious as Bradford had thought it was — and the test she was told weren’t needed were indeed carried out.
Bradford says that within a few hours, it was determined that her daughter had Kawasaki disease, which she describes as “an illness which causes major inflammation inside the walls of blood vessels and arteries requiring immediate hospitalization, immunoglobulin IV therapies, and aspirin to reduce the likelihood of blood clots within the heart.”
Given the fact that her son Gavin has a history of cardiac disease, Bradford says it was of the utmost importance that Harper be tested for it. As the mom explains, “every day [the disease is] left untreated raises the risk of serious complications, including heart failure and lifelong heart tissue damage, thus significantly raising the chances of early adulthood heart attacks and aneurysms.”
The good news is, Bradford says Harper began to get better within just a few days of medication and a weekend stay at the hospital. She is home now, and continues to recover. (She’s even back to her old antics of wrestling her brothers and terrorizing the cats, according to her mom.)
However, Bradford is still is concerned that the delay in treatment might have caused her daughter damage.
“We won’t know until more testing is done if Harper’s heart is damaged,” she explains in her post. “Had the testing I requested on our first trip been done, the second trip never would have happened. They’d have seen an issue, looked further, and found this days ago.”
Either way, Bradford’s message is strong and clear: You know your child best, and sometimes that means you have to go against the grain to advocate for what they need. Sometimes that means ruffling a few feathers along the way, but when it comes to our kid’s health and well-being, there is no other way to do it.
“I will never allow my fears to be written off again,” Bradford writes in her post. “I know my children, and I know when something is seriously wrong.”
“You do too,” she says, as she reaches across the aisle to all of us parents out there, just trying to do the best for our kids. “You are their voice and their advocate,” she reassures. ” … don’t let anyone, no matter their degree or their opinion, make you feel like you don’t. You know them better and you can tell when something isn’t okay. Say so, and if someone won’t listen, say it louder until they do. Your child depends upon you to do so.”