Recent Entries
Summer Vacation: Tips for Traveling with CHD
How Do You Start Your Morning?
Balancing Parenting & Congenital Heart Disease
The First Five Years
My Journey to a Grateful Life
Now What?
Medical Home Sweet Home
Still Cliché’?
To My Village: Thank You
Education is Key in Spreading the Word about CHD


The opinions expressed by ACHA bloggers and those providing comments on the ACHA Blog are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Adult Congenital Heart Association or any employee thereof. ACHA is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the ACHA bloggers.

The contents of this blog are presented for informational purposes only, and should not be substituted for professional advice. Always consult your physicians with your questions and concerns.

Should I Be a Helicopter?

Oct 28

Posted by: ACHA
10/28/2011 12:18 PM  RssIcon

By Alissa Butterfass

As I write this, it’s a Sunday night. My family is just back from a long weekend in Florida. In just three days, we found time to build sandcastles on the beach, splash in the pool, eat some good Cuban food and hang out with my cousins. I even got in two good games of Scrabble with Grandma. Aside from my 2-year-old vomiting on me during the turbulent landing at LaGuardia, it was pretty close to perfect.

Except for one thing...

Yesterday, when my older son M. got out of the pool, I noticed that his lips were a particular purple-blue, the same shade my own turn when I’m cold. Granted, it was a relatively cool, gray windy day, and so it wasn’t surprising that anyone getting out of the pool was cold. But the color of M.’s lips was so exactly the same that mine get—whereas both my husband and my younger son’s lips stayed their usual red—that I immediately got nervous. Could it mean M. has a heart problem?

Back in 1972 there was no advance warning for my parents that I’d be born with a heart defect. I came out of the womb blue and it was clear that something was wrong. Medical technology has advanced, and in 2005, when I was pregnant with M., I was able to have a fetal echocardiogram. Among other things, ruled out his having my defect, TGV.

Just to be safe, when M. was about a year old, we got his heart checked out. Not surprisingly, my little squirmer moved and fussed the whole time and it was a challenge to get a good read on any of the tests. Still, the cardiologist didn’t find any alarming results and that was that. Similarly, our gestational carrier got a fetal echo for our second son S., and that time we didn’t even bother with a one-year cardiac work-up.

So seeing M.’s purple lips made me wonder… Maybe I’m being too lax. We all hear about helicopter parents who worry and fret about every little thing their children do to an extreme. I certainly try to give my kids the best care, guidance and love possible without becoming so overbearing that I impede their growing sense of confidence and independence.

But maybe I should start hovering a little more than I do. Our boys are energetic. They love to climb, bounce, tumble and wrestle with each other. They’ve taken their share of bumps and boo-boos, and the medical advice we usually follow is “shake it off.” A hug, a kiss, an occasional Toy Story bandage and we’re good.

I know there’s a simple way to ease my worried mind about M.’s purple lips—just take him to the doctor—which I plan to do. But I’m not in a rush. I figure I can talk to his pediatrician at the next appointment and determine a course of action then. My parental instinct (and a cursory examination by my husband the ER doc) tells me there’s probably nothing wrong with M.

But how do you know? What is the fine line between appropriate concern and annoying worrywart? Making a big deal of nothing vs. treating a big deal like it’s nothing? Living in a bubble thinking nothing will ever go wrong vs. living in bubble wrap to protect from any impending danger?

I really hope we’re finding the right balance. And I can tell you now, if by chance there is a problem you’re gonna hear some noise—the sound of my rotors buzzing as I start to hover.

Alissa Butterfass was born with transposition of the great vessel, which was corrected with a Mustard procedure at age 2. In addition to being a mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, wannabe author and chocoholic, she works part time as a senior marketing manager at a Fortune 500 company and volunteers as the Co-President of her local chapter of a nonprofit organization.

Location: Blogs Parent Separator ACHA Blog

1 comment(s) so far...


Re: Should I Be a Helicopter?

As a CHD'er with children myself I understand this feeling. All 3 of my children had fetal echos and follow ups after birth. Still I had my cardiologist check out my younger son (now age 6) before he began playing football this summer. I know I am more aware of cardiac issues than many other parents but I knew I would feel better to just double check him out.

Turns out he is just fine and ended up playing an awesome season of tackle football.

By Tammy Wright on   11/2/2011 3:06 PM

Your name:
Gravatar Preview
Your email:
(Optional) Email used only to show Gravatar.
Your website:
Security Code
Enter the code shown above in the box below
Add Comment   Cancel