Don't you sometimes wish you had a stethoscope and one of those things that doctors use to look in patient's ears? The trips I could have saved myself if I had been able to know the things that only doctors are privvy to.
We take temperatures, watch the clock for how long it's been since last medicating, apply bandages, wash off wounds....all the basics, but when it all comes down to the wire and our child isn't feeling well, we want some advice from someone more in the know than us.
Can't tell you the number of times I've been to the doctor's office when my kids were younger, quite concerned that they had been sick such a LONG time, only to be told that it's just a cold and nothing can be done but wait it out. But then on the other hand, I've also been in the position where all of a sudden one of my children is holding their ear and is feverish, then going to the doctor and being told I should have been there days ago as the ear drum looks terrible! Apparently my son was asymptomatic until his ear was ready to pop - so weird, and strangely perplexing.
Over time, I guess I got more relaxed in my approach to the everyday kinds of illness, like sore throats, coughs, runny noses, fevers. I knew the drill - lots of fluid, lots of sleep, and Advil or Tylenol if you feel terrible. And wait. Usually resolves itself. But today when my daughter woke up and said her symptoms were worse, we made the appointment. I was completely expecting him to say that it was nothing out of the ordinary, but he listed off about 4 diseases it could possibly be and said we should probably treat it with anitbiotics (he's a very cautious prescriber). How's a mother to know?
If you go in and it's just a cold - you feel over zealous.
If you don't go in and wait longer than you should - you feel negligent.
One of the biggest changes I noticed in me from my early mothering days was that when the doctor asked me what her temperature had been - it hadn't even dawned on me to take her temperature. "She was hot and achy so she took Advil" was the best I could come up with. That was so not my early-mothering-days style. And yet, he seemed unphased by my response. I think he also must have a little of the perspective of "how's a mother to know?"
Most days we make our best guess. Some days it's right. Some days we embrace our humanity and are thankful that our wrong guesses aren't too big of a mistake.