WOW…I’m a Parent! I’m Completely Responsible for this Little Life

I didn’t know much about looking after a baby or raising a child when I was lucky enough to become pregnant with my son. As an only child with extended family spread far across the West, I didn’t come in contact with these little creatures previously. But once on the baby path there were many experiences that helped build the feeling that I’d soon be a parent – and all that entails: the first heartbeat and ultrasound picture, the first overwhelming visit to the local baby superstore (yikes!), prenatal baby-care classes, the first time seeing newborn clothes….so small!! Not to mention the joy when I finally held my son – or the panicky feeling when they let us take him home.

And of course I read the books. I knew what he would need daily or hourly – how to feed, care for and protect him. But nothing really brought home the full weight of parental responsibility until a couple of weeks back at work when I got THE CALL. Daycare. A staff member had fed my son someone else’s breast milk. I can still picture where I was, holding the phone – even though it was now over 8 years ago. My first thoughts: “Hmmm…this one isn’t in the book. What do I say? What do I do? Can’t HIV be transmitted through breast milk? But how likely is that?” There are some concerns about transmission – HIV, illicit or prescription drugs, etc. But the risk was probably very low based on the limited amount of milk (one bottle) that he got. Nevertheless, my husband and I quickly ended up in the daycare centre director’s office, discussing an issue that had already been elevated to the lawyers and risk management staff at the centre’s corporate head office.

We were informed that there had already been implications for the staff member, although thankfully she had not been fired. She was actually great with the babies and I wasn’t going to call for her head, though I was glad she had been moved to work with older kids. We couldn’t learn much about the other mother, due to reasons of privacy, but we were told that she had struggled for years to have her baby, undergoing multiple rounds of IVF – which gave some comfort that she probably hadn’t been doing anything that would put her child (or mine) at risk.

We walked away that day thinking…“We really need to think this through”…to look at the long-term possibilities. We were responsible for him – not just his current reality – but the unknown future ahead of him. He couldn’t make the decisions here, but he’s the one who would be affected in the long-term if the unlikely occurred. WOW…we’re parents! This little creature depends on us – not just for basic daily needs, but for his safety, growth, development, and happiness. So we had to determine a course of action, for his sake.

I contacted our pediatrician and a baby doctor in the neighborhood. I also got the perspective of another daycare center. Everyone reassured me of the low risk of any negative effects, which helped me and my husband sleep better and probably would have been sufficient if it were only our interests at stake, but it wasn’t….this was for our child. In the end, we decided to ask the other mother to undergo testing for the major concerns – facilitated and paid for by the daycare – just to be sure. We got the results quickly and reviewed them with our pediatrician: everything was fine and we were now satisfied. There was probably more we could have done, but the thing was we did more than we normally would have if we were just looking out for ourselves.

There’ve been a few more challenging experiences since then: injuries requiring trips to the ER and issues that caused us to change schools. None were life threatening or altering, though all of them tested me as a parent and made me feel the weight of that responsibility…but, still, none sticks with me like that first one.

What about you?? What was your “wow – I really am a parent” moment?

About the Author

Audra is an experienced pharmaceutical marketing professional, aspiring writer, and mother of Elliott, a high-spirited twenty-year old. Frequently tired but never bored, she has a strong interest in public health fostered by numerous years implementing global oncology education programs as well as by her twenty-year crazy (wild? amazing?) adventure in parenting. She recently earned a Masters in Public Health to augment her expertise in health policy and health promotion. Audra is a founding member of the PedSafe Team


2 Responses to “WOW…I’m a Parent! I’m Completely Responsible for this Little Life”

  1. Julie @Momspective says:

    Aww…my little one just turned three and my oldest will be six in a few weeks. Now I’m nostalgic!

  2. Upon leaving the hospital with our first child, I too knew that I could change her and feed her, probably even bathe her, but I was terrified about how I would be able to care for her emotionally. How would I learn to recognize her cries, to know what she needed?

    10 years later I must say I learned fast and bonded faster. I can’t believe how fast time flies!

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!