We’ll both see the world a little differently now…
As our kids grow little by little each day, we as parents are also constantly growing through all of the new experiences. Everleigh started kindergarten in August, which meant a whole bunch of firsts would be inevitably forthcoming for our family. As a mom of one, I like to think I’m pretty much always going to be completely lost and slightly overwhelmed when it comes to all of the first time experiences with my daughter.
About a month after school began, I received a notice from the nurse that we had not turned in an eye exam for Everleigh. Apparently this is a requirement for kindergarten that I unsurprisingly somehow managed to completely miss. I had assumed that the eye exam that was completed at the preschool in the spring was part of her kindergarten requirements, and we all know what they say about assumptions.
As soon as I learned that we had a limited amount of time to complete the exam and submit the required paperwork to the school, I contacted an optometrist with a convenient location that could get us in quickly during a late afternoon time-slot so that it wouldn’t affect her school day. I picked her up after school and we stopped at a gas station nearby to grab a quick snack. In an effort to give some insight as to how clueless I was about this entire experience, I convinced Everleigh to leave her snack in the car during the appointment and promised we’d “be in and out in just a few minutes!”
Fast forward through a whirlwind hour worth of exams that felt somewhat rushed and mature for a five year old: I found myself sitting in the doctor’s office completely lost for words while Everleigh sat in the exam chair with tear-stained cheeks and dilated pupils. Not only did she need a prescription, I was told that her vision was TERRIBLE. When the doctor asked if I had questions, I couldn’t even formulate sentences or think of anything other than,
“Are you SURE?” and “HOW?”
How could this have gone undetected for so long? How has she always done so well at home with sight words, math, and number recognition? How did she pass her vision exam at school this past spring? How could her vision be THAT bad if none of her teachers remarked on any issues for the past few years? Most importantly, HOW in the world could I, her mother, the person who has spent the vast majority of her life by her side - the person who is devoted to giving her the best life possible and being entirely in tune to her needs, completely miss something that should be so obvious?!
I left the appointment choking back tears and drove the short but agonizing six miles home focused on not showing any signs to Everleigh that I was worried. Once we got home, I enthusiastically sent her inside to her dad and I stayed back in the car alone to cry. Tears of shame burned my cheeks because obviously not only was I not as competent of a mom as I thought I was, but because my heart broke over the thought that my sweet girl could have struggled so much without anyone noticing enough to help her.
After cycling through my feelings over everything and hearing all of the incredible insight from The Honest Crew (my amazing friends over in Instagram land), I decided that the best decision for the next step for Everleigh was to get a second opinion from a pediatric specialist. She sees a pediatric primary doctor, a pediatric gastroenterologist, and a pediatric dentist and I am always an advocate for pediatric specialists whenever the option is available. The fact that taking her to an optometrist who specializes in working with children wasn’t even a thought in my mind proves even further how completely unaware I have been of the existence of this issue.
We visited the pediatric optometrist at our regular local clinic at Carle and the difference in the experience this time around was night and day. Dr. Oshiro-Johnson and her staff were extremely thorough and gentle, and all of the exams were designed to be fun and easily comprehensible for young children. While the end result was similar to the first appointment, we felt much more comfortable and confident in the overall experience and accuracy this time around.
Since we were pretty certain after the first appointment that glasses were going to be a part of Everleigh’s future, we decided to be proactive and did some research on our options for prescriptions. We shopped three places locally and ended up going with Eyemart Express. Our experience working with Chablii at the Champaign location was incredible. She was patient and made the entire experience enjoyable for Everleigh, and it was clear that she had experience fitting children properly for glasses. She took the time to search our insurance plan to discover that I have vision coverage (who knew, considering neither Clayton or myself have glasses or contacts?!) and priced out all of the possible options for us. We ended up taking home three pairs of glasses with a guarantee for $326 compared to the $550-600 we were quoted at the other two places for just two pairs. Better yet, all three pairs were ready for pickup in just over an hour after selecting the frames as opposed to the standard two weeks we were expecting from other locations.
Thanks to The Honest Crew and our amazing experiences this second time around, my mom guilt has subsided considerably since the first appointment. I have been assured over and over now that oftentimes the case with children is that their vision issues go undetected until their required school exams because of their ability to adapt to their circumstance without knowing any differently, hence the importance of the required exams. I feel a huge sense of relief that we were able to get Everleigh the best care that she needs, and the fact that she has been able to thrive in her environment with poor vision for so long gives me so much hope for how much brighter her future will be.
As much as we try to be most days, moms aren’t superheroes. We can’t save the world or save our children from everything in it. The best thing we can do for our kids is love them fiercely every day and advocate for them to get the best care, the best results, and the brightest future possible. Oh, and pick up some blue light blocking glasses to make their new experiences a little less lonely. 😉