Monday, May 9, 2011

What? Me Worry?

Before Sky was born, I made a conscious decision that I would not be one of those worrying-type mothers. There were three reasons in particular that I was able to convince myself all would be fine: 1) Ren had done this before, 2) we were/are older parents so, in theory, could handle anything, and 3) worrying parents only seem to make their kids crazy. I didn't want to be one of those parents.

So it is that I approached the birth of my first child with a startling calm. And Sky as a baby made me think my approach was not only warranted but also really smart. He was not terribly fussy, grew like a weed, and slept through the night at four weeks. It wasn't until Sky was about 20 months old and he started day care part-time, that I was forced to start worrying. He was on target in terms of language and general knowledge but way behind socially--at least this is how the daycare helpers defined his propensity to run into things. Years later (as you know from earlier posts), we figured out what led to the discrepancy between his intellectual and social skills. And in the interim, we worried constantly (and sometimes still do) about his troubles interacting with his peers.

With Pink P, it was less a result of my conscious choice and more the result of circumstances that made me take a laid-back approach to parenting. She was born seven weeks before we moved to Japan for 15 months. In the intervening weeks between her birth and our move, we sold our house, packed up all we owned, divided it between storage and the seven suitcases we carried with us to Japan, and boarded a plane for Tokyo, where we knew no one and had no idea what kind of living accommodations awaited us. Pink P didn't do nearly as well sleeping at night as Sky did (jet lag + Japanese sleeping arrangements = sleep pattern nightmares), but she was an even more laid-back baby. Since we were new to Tokyo, we would often set out for the day with no idea where we were going or how long it would take to get there. This meant I had no idea where I would find the nearest breast-feeding/diaper-changing station. No matter! Pink P never once fussed when we were on these early excursions, and when I did manage to find a place to feed or change her, she always extremely grateful and patient. It was as if,even as a baby, she knew exactly what kind of family she'd been given and she was totally okay with (resigned to) it.

For her whole life, though, Pink P had a red, irritated spot on her face, which we attributed to her pacifier habit. And the summer we moved back to the US, when she was 18 months old, this turned into eczema and hives. Then, on her second birthday, we discovered what peanuts can do to her. (All I can say is that I am glad she decided she didn't like the peanut butter and only touched a little bit of it to her lips. I'm also glad that Ren demonstrates more presence of mind than I do. "Give her Benadryl," he said without even thinking about it). Extensive allergy testing confirmed all that we had started to suspect: she's allergic to dairy, soy, and peanuts (not to mention dogs, cats and several other food chemicals we haven't figured out yet). Most of these are just annoying--they make her itch or give her eczema, but apparently a single peanut could kill her. As the doctor put it, "She can be in the same room as a peanut, but she shouldn't touch it." And then he gave me an epipen--in fact, he wouldn't let me leave the office without one. The moment they give you an epipen, it all seems a lot more serious. My vow not to worry became virtually unattainable when I realized a stray nut could kill my kid.

So now we are waiting on #3. Maybe it's the fact that life is slightly less insane--after all, I am neither in the middle of my Ph.D. coursework nor preparing to move to Japan for 15 months. Maybe it's the fact that I am getting too old for this. Maybe it's the fact that we didn't plan this and we weren't expecting it. Or maybe it's because both Sky and Pink P have turned out to have some very worrying conditions. Whatever it is, this time around, I am pretty much scared stiff. I'm toying with denial as a potentially more healthy alternative to sheer terror. I'll let you know how it goes.

1 comment:

FMBMC said...

Hang in there! You'll be fine. And yes, denial works wonders! I decide what I can handle for the day and the rest waits for another day.