First-time mom Sarah Tams’ concerns weren’t taken seriously until her daughter stopped breathing. Now the mom is standing up for motherly instincts.

By Libby Ryan
June 17, 2019
ESB Professional/Shutterstock

First-time mom Sarah Tams has a message for other moms after experiencing the scariest moments of her life. She knew something was wrong with her baby but was told to “relax.” And then her infant daughter stopped breathing and turned blue in front of her.

Tam’s daughter Hannah is alive and recovering, but Tams posted a photo telling the story of the terrifying incident to reinforce the idea that moms should trust their “guts.”

“I had always thought something felt off about Hannah’s behavior,” Tams wrote on Instagram. “She always seemed beyond-uncomfortable, was extremely hard to settle, sounded strange and unhappy all the time.”

Tams says she was told, “You’re just a first-time mom—relax.” And, “Babies just cry—relax.” Or even, “You’re just a nervous mom, she feeds off of your negative energy—relax.”

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“So I felt like I was failing. Like I was overreacting,” she wrote on Instagram. “I just wasn’t experienced. I was just doing something wrong. I just wasn’t good at motherhood.”

However, Tam’s instincts were right. Hannah had an extreme case of reflux. While most babies have some levels of reflux—that’s why those cute little burps and sometimes giant belches happen—Hannah’s esophagus didn’t fully develop and her reflux got so bad, she stopped breathing. When the doctor gave Hannah’s diagnosis, Tam says she bawled. “I wasn’t crazy. My girl was going to get treatment, was going to feel better and it wasn’t my fault, or my nerves.”

But even the health care providers were telling her that she was “overreacting.” Tam says that the paramedic assisting the family in transferring hospitals told her that she “wouldn’t overreact so much with my second.”

Scary situations like this one are one more reason to form a relationship with your pediatrician. You need someone who will listen to you and never minimize your worries. Choosing a doctor is tough enough with concerns such as insurance and location, but you need to know that your child’s doctor understands your communication methods and respects your instincts. Consider chatting with your doctor (or prospective doctors) to know what to expect in terms of bedside manner and what would happen if you had a major concern about your child’s health.

Now that Hannah is getting the appropriate care and is on the mend, Tams wrote, “I’ve learned the most valuable lesson in motherhood so far: TRUST YOUR GUT. You might not know everything, but you know your baby best.”

Tams says she hopes her story inspires other moms to stand up for their instincts. “I’m sharing this blurry, out of focus, photo that I accidentally snapped walking into the ambulance in the hope that we can stop brushing off first time moms as nervous wrecks all the time,” Tams wrote on Instagram. “That we can start trusting all the moms whether they have on baby or ten. Whether they go with the grain or against it. ‘Cause we might not just be crazy, we might just be moms.”

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