When my kids are sick, I am usually the one to push through the sleepless nights, make my husband mostly deal with them, and leave them home with the Nanny while I go to work. I don’t have a lot of flexibility at my job to take days off (I get 5 sick days a year and 4 EDOs which need to be scheduled in advance). This makes the decision when it comes to caring for my sick kids very difficult. I almost always go to work when the kids are sick and spend the whole day worrying about them and feeling guilty for not putting them before my work.
I already have a significant amount of mommy guilt when it comes to dealing with my vomiting kids. I have extreme emetophobia (fear or vomit/vomiting) and usually can’t be near my kids when they are vomiting or I think they will vomit. I also fear that by being next to them, I will “catch” whatever bug they have and then I will get sock too. I hate myself for it, but I can barely put my fear/anxiety aside to comfort my kids when they are sick.
Yesterday my son developed a horrible bout of gastroenteritis. At least I figured it was gastro, until he could not stop vomiting (no matter what medications we tried to give him) his entire stomach contents, then bile, then just poor retching. Even a sip of water to wet his mouth would lead to more retching. Through this all he was complaining about a really bad stomach ache and the pain seemed to be getting worse as the night progressed. After already being awake all night and finally overcoming my vomit fear to lay down with him and rub his back (at this point he was barely even retching anymore), I began to worry more about his abdominal pain. He wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t sleeping, and he was obviously dehydrated. I felt like he needed to be seen in the urgent care centre, at least to check out his abdominal pain, and to possibly give him some stronger medication and rehydrate him. Making the decision to do this meant that I for certain wouldn’t be able to go to work today. So after weighting which guilt would be worse – that of not taking care of my sick son or that of calling in sick to work for the second time in the span of a week – I opted to take him in.
I put his cool little feet into his socks and piled him into the car with his blanket, giraffe, and a little puke bowl. I drove across the city at 2:30am and listened to him moan in pain from the back seat. I checked him in to the urgent care and waited for the nurse, then the doctor, then the medication, and finally the rehydration. My 5:30am alarm rang and I made the call to my chief resident. I felt horrible for that. Eventually my son’s lips started looking less dry and his face less pale. He was more talkative again, and we got the go ahead to leave. We drove home and got into bed and slept most of the morning, However, when I woke up, I felt an extreme amount of guilt for not being at work.
It feels like I can never win the battle against Guilt. For every “good decision” that is made, there seems to be an equal and opposite “bad decision.” I feel like I am always trying to decide which decision is actually the good one…