Motherhood? It's making me crazy. Well, you likely knew that, considering I've talked in detail about my struggle with PPD. But now, it seems I'm experiencing a different version of crazy - hypochondria, or more specifically, child-centered hypochondria.
A couple of months back, my friend's son was diagnosed with liver cancer at an advanced stage. What had been a small bump on his rib cage became a protrusion that brought them into the doctor, where they learned that the bump was actually a grapefruit-sized tumor that indicated cancer in his liver, and spread to his lungs. Though it wasn't my own child's diagnosis, I cried myself to sleep that night.
Since then, I've been a bit of a lunatic. A month ago, we took Ava in to see the pediatric gastroenterologist to monitor her issues with dairy, where they suggested we have a full metabolic panel/CBC work-up done, along with an ultrasound and x-ray of her abdomen. Though I was instantly saddened for what was to come for my baby girl (mainly the bloodwork - the rest wouldn't be painful at all!), the overwhelming feeling I experienced was relief. Relief that we'd get to peek into what's going on inside of her body, to make sure that there wasn't some harmful, life-threatening condition taking root down where the signs would be masked by pounds of organs and flesh. I know it sounds insane, but I wanted nothing more than to check each and every one of her blood markers, particularly her white and red blood cell counts, to make sure that there was no indication that my child was also facing the world's most terrifying diagnosis for a child and their parents.
Thankfully (and honestly, God, I am ever so thankful every second of the day - thank you), there was nothing that stood out to them. The markers for celiac were not there, which was what our doctor was looking for. What I wanted to know - would my child suffer a similar fate as our dear friend and his parents? - turned out alright as well - between her ultrasound, x-ray and bloodwork, Ava got a clear bill of health.
I feel guilty about this. Not at all the type of guilt that makes me want to give up my good fortune, because I want more than anything in the world for my daughter to be healthy and safe and outlive me by decades. But guilty that I'm able to feel the relief that the mother I know is currently desperate for. Guilty that I went to the doctor expecting the worst but came home with the best, whereas my friend went in expecting nothing and had her world turned on it's side that day.
You would think these medical reassurances would be enough for me, but now, I've reverted as well back to the state I was in when Ava was first home from the hospital - checking on her constantly for fear that she'll stop breathing in her sleep or in her car seat when I can't get to her. If she's too read, I worry we're headed to another heat-related illness. In short, I'm living in a constant state of fear and panic.
I know this is a normal reaction to an event like what happened to my friend's child (for the record, his treatment is going very, very well, and his prognosis is good). I know that parents, particularly mothers, are prone to this type of worrisome behavior over their children, and I'm no exception or special case. But I do hope that this hypersensitivity and constant fear that I'll lose her goes away soon, because living in fear of something bad happening to your child? It's awful. It's my biggest fear, losing Ava. It would be as if someone cut a hole into my heart, or removed an entire section of my body - one needed to function. In short, it would be the worst thing imaginable, and so naturally, I live in fear of it.
But life? It's too short to live in fear and in a panic over what "could be". I don't believe in living that way, despite my recent concerns. So tonight, I'll vow to try harder to recognize how good I have it. To be thankful for my daughter and my family and the many reassurances I have that she is, despite my fears, healthy and safe. And I'll cuddle her and snuggle her and let her know how much I love her every second, every day.