Every mother has a time when she turns into an angry mama bear, ready to protect her cubs at all costs. Sometimes it's instinctual and just comes on. These times come on fast. Then there are times when you know you'll have to be on alert and it's more planned out. Usually these times are when having to deal with professionals in our lives- teacher conferences, doctor's appointments, trips to the ER. No matter how she comes out, there are different characteristics of mama bear: she must protect her cub from whatever danger may come at all costs, it probably includes loud voices and a defiant demeanor and the willingness to get in the way of whatever attack is coming in their direction.
Code Mama Bear came into action for me yesterday. The story...
I was woken at 5:30 am by a screaming C. I initially thought it was his 2 year molars hurting him, but after comforting him and then just getting up for the day I went and changed his diaper to find his foreskin extremely swollen and red- and obviously painful, hence the screaming, especially while peeing. I knew I had to take him in, I didn't have this experience with my older two boys so had no idea what was going on. I mentally prepared myself. Even though we live in a pretty progressive area when it comes to side stream (compared to mainstream) issues, there are still medical professionals that don't know the current information on dealing with intact boys, or let you be on your choices about vaccination. I made the decision not to try and get him into our regular clinic and instead go into the ER, for 2 reasons: 1) I didn't want him to sit in pain for hours, if the clinic couldn't see us till the afternoon; and 2) I didn't want to take the chance of having to see the "pro-circ, you have to retract!" Ped in the clinic (been there, will never do it again!), I'd rather take my chances on an unknown ER Ped.
In my mind I began running through my come backs to not retracting, not vaxing, not circing. I had my dialogue ready and mama bear in my pocket- well maybe even half on. People in a position of authority (doctors, nurses, teachers, principals) always put me on edge- these people have power and influence with others with even more authority and power (police, CPS, social workers) and can come into your life and throw everything upside down, even for as little as a difference of opinion. My anxiety in these situations stems from a few different things- growing up questioning authority (I don't know if my mom realizes she instilled this value, as strongly as she did or intending to! LOL), becoming a teen parent, and hating the feeling of being judged. But it's there and strong.
When you live life off the mainstream and on the side you start to get used to having your come backs to those that question your decisions. It's important you don't sound ignorant, angry or defensive; if you do, they come after you harder. Especially when it comes to kids. Everyone has an opinion on how you should be raising them and what is the right and proper way to do it. And they really don't care how much research or time and thought you've put into making your decisions. If they feel you're wrong, you're wrong. Period. The farther I get off the stream and down the side the more that comes into play. So I'm more on the planning and less on instinct. I am informed and need to make sure my words are too.
Back to yesterday's trip to the ER. I was ready. Ready to jump in if anyone tried to retract his foreskin, or even mentioned circumcision. I was less ready if I was questioned about his vaxes but also knew I didn't have to explain just state "We don't vaccinate." BUT as it turned out I didn't need to be so vigilant. In fact I may have been a bit too on edge and ready- my mom came with us and at one point had to Mother me because I was getting defensive.
The triage nurse was the hardest. When asked if he was up to date on his immunizations, I tried to just say "We don't vaccinate" like planned but she gave me a look and asked "why?" (I know they're not supposed to, and really what does a red swollen foreskin have to do with vaxes, there aren't any diseases they vaccinate against that have that as a symptom- that I know of.) And I back pedaled- but then I remembered when asked about allergies, that we do have a good reason as to why we don't (Not that the decision not to just because you don't feel its the right choice for your child isn't good enough) and it's one that seemed to get the subject dropped fast: His reaction at 9 months and that we've decided to wait till he's older to make any more decisions on the topic. You say Reaction and they seem to be appeased easily.
Once we were in our room the nurse came in, asked the same questions (including one as to whether he was circumcised or not!?!- I mean I talking about his foreskin here and she had to ask, this is where I got a bit snarky and my mom scolded me. "No he's not, he has foreskin, he's intact" is a bit rude I guess. But isn't that the point in circing- to remove the foreskin? And as a nurse should she know that?) and looked (didn't try even touching him) at his penis. And left- we never saw that nurse again.
We waited a while and the doctor came in. And man I was ready- he would NOT be allowed to retract him. I'm sure I came off as really defensive but hey I'm the one that's supposed to defend my children, right? But I was very quickly put at easy- he touched but was very gentle and seemed to know how to handle an intact penis- he even called C intact and not uncirced! That was really the thing that put me at ease. He knew exactly what it was, didn't mention circ, or uncleanliness, or retraction and just ordered a topic antibiotic. He mentioned his parents are both from large families (11 and 23! respectively) and how great they are! As to the vax question he seemed satisfied with our choice and didn't push the topic at all. It was all such a relief- I wish this guy was in the clinic!
So Code Mama Bear was canceled. I had no need to be on high alert, this time. It was refreshing. I know she will come back next time she's needed but maybe just maybe if we continue to have interactions like this she'll be able to hibernate for longer periods of time.