Shark Music in the Doctor’s Office

illustration of a mother holding a crying newborn
My 1-year-old daughter has a medical condition that has been tricky to diagnose, so she has needed a series of medical procedures in her first year of life.  Some of these have been painful, some just uncomfortable, but I would say that all have been frightening for her. She is now extremely cautious in any place that looks like a doctor’s office!  Being With her in these moments has been really difficult for me.  I hear Shark Music around the moment of Taking Charge, of holding her still while these procedures happen.  The volume of that Shark Music is only turned up by the desire to be a ‘good parent’ in the eyes of the medical professionals. When I’m in my Shark Music, I want to be the parent who downplays the distress of their child, who doesn’t ask too many questions or make too many requests.

During some of the procedures I have been able to shift my focus from this Shark Music, to focus on my daughter and Be With her in her distress, telling her what is going to happen, encouraging her to share her feelings of distress and whispering soothing words in her ear.  At other times, I’ve been caught up in the Shark Music.  I’ve sung “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” with the nurse as she takes my daughter’s blood, as if that’s going to help!  In these moments it’s easy to then feel immense shame and guilt at trying to push my little girl to the Top of the Circle in a moment when she’s so clearly on the Bottom.  But I am comforted by my understanding of Rupture and Repair.  On that particular occasion, we sat outside the pathology office and had a big cuddle in the sunshine while talking about the experience. While my little girl is too young to understand my words, I trust my tone and presence repairs our rupture. I know too, that this practice of reflecting sets us up well for the many years of ruptures and repairs ahead!

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