Doing the right thing sometimes sucks.


Yesterday was a bit rough. I had the dubious honour of welcoming a new mum to Holland.

She had always suspected her little boy couldn’t see well (he’s 4 months old, and her first baby) and she had asked her Plunket nurse about it several times, and brought it up with us (the group facilitators). My co-facilitator kept reassuring her that if there was a problem, the Plunket nurse or the doctor would catch it. I’m only there every other week because I job share, so I wasn’t seeing him as often as the other facilitator.  I was deferring to what my co-facilitator had seen.  She thought it was a normal variation on baby’s eyesight – maybe a lazy eye.  

But then, today, I watched him for half an hour, my heart slowly sinking more and more. I watched as the mum tried to interact with him the way the other mums were interacting with their babies. He didn’t focus on anything she held out for him to see. Didn’t turn his head when she put something bright and shiny beside his head on the mat. Didn’t smile when she smiled at him. Didn’t even turn his head to look when she made a noise.

I asked to hold him for a minute, and I did my best to catch his eye. He seemed to be able to tell I was up close, but with all my charms, I couldn’t get him to smile, either.

And I said to the mum, “Does he smile a lot for you?” And her tears welled up, and I knew. 😦

So I told her she needed to go back to the doctor and raise a stink, because her little boy was not focussing the way he should be doing. That her gut feeling was right, and there was something wrong with his eyes.

The other mums, my co-facilitator and I gave her hugs, and told her we could go with her to the doctor if she needed it. I called her this afternoon to make sure she was okay, and she was, and she had made an appointment for the doctor.

While I was at my meeting last night, my co-facilitator called her. She had just been to the doctor. Her doctor gave her an express pass to the pediatrician.  Hopefully, that will mean some help and access to medical services. 

(In NZ, you need a referral from your GP to go to a specialist, and a pediatrician is considered a specialist.  Most people have to wait 3-6 months to see a specialist, unless the GP considers your case urgent. So in this case, an express pass means the GP felt this baby should be seen ASAP.)

Afterwards, my co-facilitator & I had a bit of a discussion, as to whether it was right to mention anything to the mum in the first place. Her argument was that if I had been wrong, and there was nothing wrong with the baby, I would have worried the mum for nothing.

But my argument was 1) The mum knew something was wrong. She didn’t really need me to tell her. 2) I was giving her the equivalent of “I believe in you. You believe in you, too, and go get it checked out.” 3) If there was nothing wrong, all that really hurts is my reputation (Broot’s a twit, she told me my baby was blind and she was wrong!) and I can handle that. I’d much much rather be wrong about something like that.

I’m not happy that I had to give the mum the bad news, but I am happy in myself that I made the right choice to say something. It was hard, but, tables turned around, I would have wanted somebody to say it to me, so I could go get it checked out.

But it was hard. And not fun at all.

The next few weeks will be about all of us at this program supporting this mum as she discovers which suburb she is exploring in Holland. Let’s hope we do that well.

Update: got this via email today from the Mum: “I am sorry for getting upset on Thursday. I think it was because someone else had finally noticed what i had over the last few weeks.  Thank-you for saying something, it would have taken me longer to get it seen to if you hadn’t have bought my attention to it.”  Her specialist appointment is tomorrow. 🙂


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About Broot

Thoughts about learning and life that are lost in a sea of blogs.

25 responses to “Doing the right thing sometimes sucks.”

  1. Latte Junkie says :

    You did the right thing! I firmly believe in sticking my neck out and looking like a fool… Most times I’d rather be proved wrong than proved right further down the line!!

    The Society for the Blind runs some amazing courses and is very supportive.

    Hugs for you (and a pat on the back for doing the hard thing), the mum and the little bubba.

    • Broot says :

      ooo thanks for that. I’m going to find a few resources to give to her next week. I think Parent 2 Parent will be a help, too.

      That’s just it, isn’t it – you say something, hoping you’re wrong, but knowing that if you’re right, it’s better now than later.

      Thanks. **hugs**

      • Latte Junkie says :

        I have done a course for teaching deafblind course that was run by the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind. Give them a call, they may be able to point you to some great resources.

        P2P will be a great form of support too.


  2. solodialogue says :

    You so did the right thing. I know for real. What you did takes courage, caring and wisdom – and I’ve known for a while that you have all three! Early intervention in all developmental issues is vital to attain the best outcome so what you did was to give her a push to get going on all she needs for the little one. Just one more reason to admire you my dear! Great job!!

  3. Barbara Ling, MamaBear says :

    What you did is sooo the right thing, words don’t exist to express it!

    The world needs more people like you to help out when one can. Good job!

  4. Lizbeth says :

    You did the right thing and if that were my little one I’d want someone to tell me. I’d rather look like an idiot for speaking up than not saying anything. The bottom line is you saw something and reacted in a kind and respectful manner. You should be praised for that–yay you!

  5. mommylebron says :

    I agree with everyone else. You did absolutely the right thing. And if you were wrong? As I parent I would still be grateful that you listened to me and validated my concerns, When my 1st born was 3 months old I had an ER nurse try to brush me off because I was only 17 therefore couldn’t possibly know anything or possess Mother’s Intuition. I raised a stink, I pushed and pushed until someone would listen to me. And do you know what happened? My baby ended up having an emergency surgery THAT DAY that saved his life.

    • Broot says :

      I hear so many stories like yours. (Including my Mother in Law about saving my husband’s life by raising a stink, too, when he was little!) I think that’s why I wasn’t afraid to say it. Thanks.

  6. Grace says :

    Yes, you did the right thing.

    I had a conversation with another autism mom just last night about how when our children were really young we knew something was wrong, but everyone kept telling us things were fine. We were not crazy, but we both felt we were because no one believed us. If you did nothing else, you validated that mother’s feelings. But you did so much more than that.

    • Broot says :

      Yes, see, that was making me mad, that the Plunket nurse couldn’t see what we had seen. And why I made the point of telling her that her gut feeling was right. 🙂 Thank you.

  7. eof737 says :

    You did the right thing. She suspected something was up and needed another mom to confirm what she feared in her heart. Plus, your proactive approach gave her the courage and probably the language to use when she returned to her GP. I hope the baby gets the necessary attention it deserves.

  8. Jayme says :

    You totally did the right thing! And that mama is right to go with her gut and find out what’s behind it. My son was diagnosed with retinal cancer at 4 months, because I noticed he wasn’t tracking objects or focusing on faces or other things- he’d only stare at bright lights. If I had waited until his next check up to ask, we could have lost him, because the cancer could have progressed to his brain.

    He may be legally blind, but he’s ALIVE 🙂

    • Broot says :

      Oh see, that’s exactly what this wee man is doing – staring at bright lights. I hope we did catch it soon enough if that is what it is! Thank you for sharing.

  9. Dianna Graveman says :

    I agree with everyone here. You did the right thing. It took a lot of courage, but that mother owes you for being so candid. How hard that must have been! I hope she finds the strength and resources to help her, and I know you will do what you can.

  10. Simone says :

    Wow, thats so tough.
    I would love to hear later on what the outcome was…

  11. Robin says :

    oh my….that was tough….God bless you, and the mother and child as well….

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