Have you ever just known something was wrong with your child? Was there ever a time you could tell by the way they were acting that things were just a little off? Have you had to speak up and advocate for your child so a doctor would listen and help? Welcome to The Mother’s Instinct! My name is Mary Butler, wife and mother to three beautiful children: Samantha (age 8), John (age 3), and Allison (age 2). While life with three children is challenging enough, my children add a little extra to the mix, each one having one or more medical diagnoses. I’ve decided to share my journey with the hope that other moms will realize they are not alone, and to always trust your gut.
When I was growing up I didn’t want to have children. I knew I could love them, but I didn’t believe I would be any good at being a mother. I never babysat as a teenager, never fawned over cute babies; I just didn’t have that maternal gene. Fast forward to my wedding day, and I immediately wanted to be a mom. I had my first daughter, Samantha, and she was amazing. She was such an easy-going baby that always slept well and ate well. I had really lucked out. There were very few occasions she was sick, and they were all minor issues. I actually felt like I knew what I was doing and I was doing a good job. That was until Samantha reached about five years old and she developed obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Around the time Samantha began exhibiting signs of OCD, I had my son, John. Just getting pregnant with him was a battle I wasn’t prepared for, nevermind what he had in store for us. At just two months old he was diagnosed with his first food allergy. It turns out he’s allergic to at least 10 food items, 5 chemicals, and 1 medication. Learning to handle and cope with these extensive allergies took a while and we are constantly educating ourselves on ways to help and protect him. At the age of two, he developed asthma and currently he has gastrointestinal and swallowing issues along with excessive bruising, we are still trying to have diagnosed.
When John was just a year old, I found out I was pregnant with our third child, Allison. The pregnancy was the roughest of the three. I bled several times during my pregnancy, I had to be on bed rest for five weeks, and she was the hardest labor and delivery I had to endure. She was a spitfire from the very beginning. She was not a very happy baby and she screamed night and day. She didn’t sleep, she didn’t eat well, and she was hard to console. I always thought the third was supposed to be the most easy-going child, but man was I wrong! She too has food allergies, which we discovered at six weeks old, and around her first birthday, we realized there was something not quite right about the way she was walking. I brought her to the pediatrician after her balance did not improve, even though everyone around me told me she was fine. Walking like a drunk baby that constantly falls is not “fine”. It turns out Allison has something called a Chiari malformation and will be having surgery shortly to relieve some of her symptoms. Two weeks after Allison was diagnosed, I too was diagnosed with a Chiari malformation. I realized then that I wasn’t just trying to help my children, but in fact, I had to learn to advocate for myself as well.