The story of Abigail’s first dentist appointment will forever be burned in my memory. It was a nightmare. She wouldn’t let the dentist look in her mouth. She screamed bloody murder whenever he’d try and take a peek. Everyone who walked by our room looked in with eyes full of fear and/or judgement. And once the dentist gave up on trying to do anything whatsoever, he allowed her to pick “one sticker.” That quickly turned into her dumping the “treasure chest” upside down at which point every sticker sprawled across the floor. But it didn’t end there. I had Mackenzie, a fussy 3 month old, sitting near us in a stroller FREAKING OUT the entire time. I couldn’t hold her (because I had to hold Abby) and there was nothing I could do to soothe her (she never took a pacifier and hadn’t figured out how to suck her thumb yet).
Honestly, it was so bad that the dentist said he wished he could offer me a cocktail.
It was 10am.
And believe me, if he really had one to give me, I probably would have taken him up on it. haha
I remember walking out of that appointment fearing for every future dentist appointment the girls would ever have. I felt like a few years had been taken off my life. It was HORRIBLE. I may have been a “strong” Mom in the moment, but when I went home all I wanted to do was cry.
I honestly thought it would never get better. Our girls hated doctor’s appointments, dentist appointments, and basically any other activity that required them to sit still and follow directions (flying is another great example).
But then something happened right around when Abby turned 3. It was as if her fear of going to the doctor had completely disappeared. She sat, she listened, and she never cried. To me, it felt like a miracle. And over time, it wasn’t only Abigail who was changing…Mackenzie, being the trusty and loyal sidekick that she is, watched Abby like a hawk and followed right behind her. She sat, she listened, and she didn’t cry either.
Fast forward another year and a half, and I have a 4.5 year old who prides herself on listening and a 2.5 year old who wants to be EXACTLY like her big sister. If Abby can do it, Mackenzie can do it too (hence the reason we always forget how old she actually is). It is amazing.
It is funny though…while they’ve made huge strides in these types of situations, my anxiety before taking them to the dentist yesterday was running on high because of the fact that I’ll never forget our FIRST experience (and yes, we’ve gone since Abby was two and we’ve had fairly traumatizing experiences, but nothing will ever compare to the first time). I was nervous Abby would get cold feet. I was frightened Mackenzie would hate sitting still. I was worried that a scene would be made (again) and that people would walk by with fear and judgement in their eyes (again).
But at the end of the day, I had nothing to be worried about. They were ROCKSTARS.
Abby proudly went first, sitting patiently through x-rays of her teeth. Then they went in with the little pick thingy (which adults can barely stand) and she didn’t flinch. They finished her up with a quick polish and the water/sucky combination (these are obviously technical terms) and she was done. No cavities. And beautiful, healthy teeth. Most importantly, she got to pick out a toy from the treasure chest (and I’m happy to report she only picked ONE – a coloring book).
As usual, Mac watched Abby like a hawk and couldn’t wait for her turn. She wanted to be a big girl too. She didn’t get x-rays, but they used the pick and polished her teeth as well. She listened perfectly and kept making everyone laugh (including the two adults on either side of our “room” – their giggles made my heart smile). She was a champ. And just like Abby, no cavities and she has beautiful, strong teeth. Oh, and just for the record, she picked a pencil from the treasure chest. 🙂
To say I took a deep sigh of relief when we walked out of those appointments would be an understatement. Not only was I relieved, but I was SO PROUD. Instead of people walking by and looking in with fear in their eyes, I heard adults smiling and giggling because my kids were so happy and goofy (at the dentist, of all places!). What a change.
Things are getting easier. I never thought they would, but they are. We are still working every single day on other challenges (because while some things get easier, others become more difficult), but the progress that has been made is mind-blowing.
So hey, if you’re going through similar experiences with your kids, just keep working with them and try to believe it will get better. If someone had told me this two years ago, I wouldn’t have believed them…but trust me, knowing what I know now gives me strength. I’m always able to take a step back when something is going terribly wrong (ie :: someone isn’t listening, someone had an accident, someone won’t eat fruit, someone is fasting, someone won’t stop drinking out of a baby bottle, etc) and remind myself that it won’t be like this forever.
It’ll get better.
That’s all for now!