I feel like a failure. I feel like I let my children down today as a mother.

Lily had to have a tooth pulled and another tooth beside it filled because of a cavity growing between the two teeth. Our dentist is a kind, patient and gentle woman who Lily really likes and seemed to trust after the first visit. If she hadn’t we would have considered having her put under for the procedure. In the end, all went well. Lily was unsure and a bit scared at times but made it through really well.

I, however, did not. I had to leave the room a couple times to compose myself. I’m so anxious about dentist visits and am an extremely queasy sort- ask anyone! I really wanted to be there for her, especially because Cam was working, and didn’t feel like I was.

Things went well at first. I explained what was going to be done- a needle to freeze her mouth, then pull the tooth and then fill the cavity. She was a bit nervous when I was telling her but keeping matter of fact and unworried seemed to help. We found a little dish that holds a number of different teeth, including one of my own. We looked at the differences in the bear, elk, deer, and mama’s teeth and Lily was really excited to bring them in to show the dentist. She was also excited to be able to have one of her own to add to the mix.

We’d talked about the tooth fairy before and how it was parents who did it but it was a fun thing to do. Weeks ago we had asked my dad what he did with my teeth and was shocked that he just flushed my teeth down the toilet after taking it out from under my pillow. Now, I’m not sure I needed to *save* all my teeth but it might have been nice to do something with them after I’d had a chance to really look at them. Lily wants to put hers under her pillow tonight.

While she was in the chair I was able to chat occasionally about things which really helped keep her mind of the moment. We talked about the funny feeling of the freezing, her tattoos and nail polish, the noisy buzzing of the drill, the massages she loves to give me while I feign being lulled to sleep, the going rate for the tooth fairy… all of it. And yet, I couldn’t stop my anxiety. I was getting hot, sweaty and started having trouble breathing. Thankfully she didn’t notice and when I talked I was able to speak normally. I didn’t want my stress to get to her and slipped outside under the guise of taking Leif to the bathroom. I just felt awful not being able to keep it together the whole time.

I couldn’t stop the panic I felt and containing my emotions was really difficult a few times. It was so hard to see her slightly uncomfortable during the freezing and more uncomfortable when the dentist was pulling the tooth. It obviously didn’t hurt but she was afraid with this unknown experience. I couldn’t do anything and I just sat there fidgeting in my fear and helplessness.

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8 Responses to Not my best today.

  1. I can only imagine how hard it would be to keep yourself together – I had my first filling just a few years ago and holy crow was I ever anxious. My dentist was working with a new assistant and they weren’t getting along so well and didn’t even realize I wasn’t frozen until they were half way through the drilling. I’m not too keen on dentists now…

    I think you probably did a better job than you think today and being able to remove yourself when you just couldn’t handle it was probably best, even though if it doesn’t sit well with you now.

    I’m surprised to hear you say you’re squeamish though… you did decorate your wrists after all!

  2. Judy Roberts says:

    Wow, Annie, I don’t want to discount your reality, but it sounds to me as if you did great!

    I think it was so creative of you to take the bear, elk, deer, and human teeth to the dentist’s office.

    I love it that you discussed the going rate for the Tooth Fairy. Imagine how well equipped Lily will be to negotiate a salary.

    You honoured her milestone by letting her choose a ritual (placing the extracted tooth under her pillow).

    When I was around seven and eight, my mother was stoical in situations in which I thought she should have been upset. When I observed her icy calmness, I thought she didn’t care about me. I was grateful when she told me, when I already was middle aged, that there had been one time, in particular, when she had felt so upset she had thought she would vomit. I didn’t wish that sensation on her, but I was glad to hear that she had thought she would vomit. To me, it said that she had cared after all.

  3. Katherine says:

    Hey, you did the opposite of let her down. You were right there with her. You faced your fear. You put your needs behind you. You took her and stayed with her. You made sure she was safe. You provided for her care. You did it all, despite your anxiety. You did it and at the same time, you chose not to transmit your anxiety. That is enormously hard to do. I think you did a GREAT job!

  4. Krista says:

    You must be SO glad it’s done and behind you all now. It sounds like it took so much courage and strength to sit there and be strong for your babe when you yourself were so distressed. I’m glad you were able to let it out and share all those unpleasant feelings here after the fact. Mamas need care and support too!

    Are you still letting those thoughts (not feelings ;)) that you are a failure and “let your children down” run the gamut in your head? Isn’t it painful when we tell stories about ourselves like this?

    I bet Lily’s vision of her all powerful, loving, caring, capable and protective mama is still very much in tact…. probably even more so now after helping her through that ordeal. No doubts about that over here. Hugs for you both.

  5. Lucy Dolan says:

    That sounds very hard. You did well. I know how difficult it is when your child is subject to medical prodding and probing. Finlay has had so much of this I am used to it now, but in the beginning I just went to pieces…..

  6. You are no failure! You did great!!! I had these problems with all my four children, and I must honestly say that I was more upset than them… Tears in my eyes, but stil chatting about funny things.. You did great to show that the dentist can mean pain and discomfort, but that it’s part of live and very important for us! Maybe you can let her make a nice drawing for the dentist, next time you vissit? This will prepare her mind in a positive way. I always told my children the trought; the treatments cán be painful. My parents told me that it was nothing (and no freezing those days!), and acted like I was overreacting wich came to a detistfobia almost. Now I have a very patient and nice dentist and I go twice a year without any fear..
    It is just like other things, one day you might end up in a first aid situation or an operation in a hospital… just be honest and show you child that you are sure that she can handle it. That will give her convidence.
    I love those teeth by the way, specialy the ‘twin-teeth’, what is it?

  7. lisa says:

    Oh sweet Annie, it sounds to me like you handled it beautifully. You must remember that although we feel the need to be Supermom, we are only human. I freak out over simple things like splinters. My husband always has to be the one to handle the medical emergencies….Kudos to you for being there with her!
    -Lisa :)

  8. sarah says:

    i feel for you- i have quite a dental phobia that i have tried (successfully so far) not to pass on to my kids. Lee has needed A LOT of fillings- i don’t know why- as you probably don’t know why either- as we have taken really great care of his teeth and he has good dental hygiene. anyway, i feel for you- and do you use rescue remedy? for yourself and Lily… xo sarah

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