29 January 2014

We should never underestimate our children

It was time for another well child check. I swear these things sneak up on me so fast. But I have a confession to make. I skipped Bennett's 3 year WCC because honestly, I didn't need to take him in to have someone weigh him and give me his measurements. But the real reason I didn't take him in, and why I have avoided the doctor like the plague, is because for the past few years, Bennett has been deathly afraid of the doctor's office.

Like, he had legit anxiety over it. The minute we would step foot into the doctor's office, the panic would set in. Crying, screaming, shaking... uncontrollably. It was absolutely heartbreaking. It started when he was about 18 months old. For most of my prenatal appointments when I was pregnant with Easton, I would drop Bennett off with my Mom because I just couldn't handle his panic attacks throughout my checkups. And I made Philip take him in for his 2 year appointment. So... needless to say... it's been a source of anxiety for us all.

A few months back, I called his doctor and made an appointment for when he turned 4. I probably wouldn't have, except there were a few vaccinations I wanted him to get, and since he's started school, I really didn't want to put them off. I had my Mom come over to watch Easton so I could put all my attention on Bennett for the appointment.

The morning of the appointment arrived, and I prepped Bennett by telling him that we were going to go see the doctor, and she was going to examine him to make sure he was healthy. I also explained that he would get a couple of shots but that they would only hurt for a minute. He seemed actually OK with it. Huh... okay?

We arrived at the office, and we hung out at the fish tank as we checked in and waited for the nurse to call us back. When she called us back, he happily grabbed my hand and walked straight into the examination room, even greeting the nurse with a smile. (usually by this point, he's already crying and upset). The nurse took his measurements, and asked if she could take his blood pressure. I was surprised when he said yes and hopped up onto the table. At this point, I was wondering what the heck was going on, what happened to his anxiety??

Next his Doctor came in, and he immediately got nervous. He shrunk into the seat and clammed up a little. We went through the routine questions, meanwhile he was just sort of ignoring the conversation and holding onto me tightly. Dr. Spence asked Bennett if she could look in his eyes & ears, he didn't respond, but instead, he looked to me for support. I assured him it would be alright, and to go sit on the table again. He sort of nervously walked over and then climbed up on the table again. When she came near him with the otoscope, he quickly batted her hand away. I could see the anxiety building in his body language. Honestly, I was afraid this was the beginning of a major  meltdown. But, I kept telling him not to be nervous, it wouldn't hurt him at all. He started sort of whimpering but he let her finish the exam. Afterward he quickly jumped down and ran over to me.

The doctor told me that given his past anxiety, we could put off the shots until his 5 year appointment if I thought it would be easier on him. I thought about it for a minute, but decided to just go for it now. I was unsure how he would respond but I just felt like he could handle it.

2 nurses came in, gave him a sucker to suck on and I got him ready for the shots. He willingly laid down on the table, I told him that he would feel a couple of really quick pricks, but that it would be over very fast.

I asked him to trust me.

The nurses approached, he looked left & looked right, he saw the needles in both of their hands and he just put his head down and looked into my eyes. I could see that he was fighting through the fear and trusting me, that everything would be okay. As they quickly gave him the shot -- he hardly even flinched. No tears, no panic, nothing. He just sat up and said "all done." And then he proceeded to thank the nurses. He THANKED the nurses for giving him a shot.

Who is this child?

The reason I'm writing all of this is to document that although this may seem like a small thing, this is monumental for Bennett. He has come SO far in the past 6 months, with his ability to overcome his fear, and turn it into bravery. His courage and capacity to trust in me has just blown me away. Much like his experience with his first time on the school bus a few weeks back.

If you would have told me last year, or a few months ago, that my little boy would happily sit through a doctors appointment, and not only that, but would breeze through his vaccinations without so much as a flinch or a tear -- I wouldn't' have believed you. Not even a little bit.

This small, but significant experience has taught me a valuable lesson.

And that is that we should never underestimate our children. They are capable of SO much more than we give them credit for sometimes. We need to trust in them, the way that they trust us. They deserve our faith in them. They deserve for us to believe in their abilities.

OH and his official 4 year stats: 
Weight: 42lbs (85%)
Height: 3'9" (off the charts)



Anonymous said...

Doc Mstuffins did wonders for my daughter's anxiety. It's also amazing how much difference a year makes when it comes to kid fears. I am glad his well check when well!

Marie Luciano said...

This gives me hope for Kayden in the future he screams the moment he sees the nurses now since they give the shots it breaks my heart.

beckyj @ A Lazy Crazy Life said...

I was going to say the same thing about Doc McStuffins. My daughter developed major anxiety over going to the doctor (she's got annual allergy appointments in addition to annual well check) so we bought her a play doctor kit and turned her onto Doc McStuffins and it really helped! She amazed me at her allergy appointment last year and handled her blood draw without a single tear--better than me! So I totally agree, children can learn, adapt and surprise you on a regular basis! Glad to hear Bennett did so well.

Jess Beer said...

Wow! That's pretty incredible. I'm always wondering how Abbie's going to do with shots and the doctor when she gets older. So far she's been ok, and I'm hoping she continues to be!

Krista said...

This made me cry. You described his fear and trust so well. Congrats Mama, for getting him through it so well!! And GO BENNETT!

Courtney said...

This post made me well up with big tears. I'm so proud of him!! That is amazing.

ADSchill said...

This is so great. B really has come SO far. He is a polite, happy, trusting, and kind little boy. You are doing great with him. And Auntie loves him.

Karly Gomez said...

Aww, this is so wonderful! What a great reminder that our children look to us because they trust us, they have to trust us, and we need to trust them too. If we don't trust our children, we probably shouldn't be trusting what we're teaching them, right?

Tara said...

This totally made me tear up! So sweet! Go Bennett! so brave!

ohgraciepie said...

Made me tear up too. Good job Bennett!

Anonymous said...

What a big boy! So sweet that he was able to overcome his fear. You're a great mama. :)

Whitney H said...

Bennett did better than I do at the doctor! Haha, but seriously... I cried when they wanted to take my blood on Monday. He's a pro!

Fran said...

aaaand you made me cry. What a big boy!

Lauren said...

Thats awesome! I skipped the 3 year old visit with my little girl too...her anxiety gives me anxiety. Glad to hear that maybe next year she will be a bit more relaxed! We have been watching the Daniel Tiger episodes about doctors a bunch and she seems to connect with that, but may have to try the Doc McStuffins that others recommended! Yay for your sweet boy!

m&msmommy said...

My daughter has her 4 year check up in a few weeks and I know it's a "big one" (in regards to vaccines) and I am scared to death! :( I don't lie to my children about shots, so when she asked if she would be getting them I said yes, BUT it'll only be a pinch, she'll get stickers, etc. I REALLY hope she handles it like Bennett did! :) She's not one to normally have anxiety about the doctors but when shots are involved, of course, there is fear! YAY for Bennett! They always tend to surprise us the most when we are expecting the worst! :)

Hayley! said...

This is so encouraging for me! My little guy has acted the same way at the doctor since about 12 months. Luckily, he only has to go once a year now, but I just feel so terrible! He's the same way about the hairdresser , so I just let his hair get long because it's so sad!! :( Hoping he will outgrow it too!