First Time Jitters
I knew I was officially a second time mommy when my 11 month-old son put a piece of dog food in his mouth and I didn’t call Poison Control. With my first child, Madison, I used to be that reactionary. Any sneeze or sniffle sent me running for the thermometer and the pediatrician’s office. I used to keep a team of medical professionals on speed dial.
Motherhood and worrying go hand-in-hand. Fortunately, it’s a condition that gets easier to deal with each new child. When Madison was born I was just 21 years old and newly divorced. As the youngest child in my family who rarely babysat, I had very limited experience with babies. Who could blame me for having nightmares the night before her first round of immunizations?
My first real experience with panic happened one day when she was increasingly fussy and by late afternoon had spiked a fever. Instinctively I knew something was wrong with her stomach. I could have assumed it was the flu. But appendicits was the thought that came to mind. I rushed Madison to the emergency room and subjected her to tests and X-rays. Diagnosis? Constipation.
Before she ever crawled I laid her on my bed one afternoon while I folded and put away laundry. I was no more than a few feet away and I figured she was perfectly safe. Without warning she turned over and crawled, right off the side of the bed, hitting the wall on the way down. Immediately, I picked her up and checked for swelling. She hysterically cried as I phoned a close family friend and registered nurse (also on speed dial). The friend calmly said if Madison had a head injury her pupils would be different sizes. I checked. One of them could have been larger than the other. I couldn’t risk it. I hurried her to the hospital, whose waiting room I was becoming a regular at. Diagnosis? A few scrapes.
Then there was the time she swallowed my ring. Don’t ask me why she put it in her mouth in the first place. Luckily it was a small size six costume jewelry ring without any stones on it. My initial thought was they would have to pump her stomach. Back to the E.R…. Diagnosis: it’ll pass. At least I was able to walk away with a souvenir X-ray for the baby book.
One day by the pool Madison had the misfortune of finding a bee stinger with her finger. She cried hysterically. Then it hit me: she’d never been stung before. What if she was allergic to bee stings? What were the signs? This time I called the E.R. directly and spoke to the nurse on duty. A lot of good that did me; she said she couldn’t diagnose over the phone and if I had any concerns I should just bring Madison in. As it turned out, those nurses in Admissions took one look at her finger and sent us home. Diagnosis: have a cocktail, Mom. Give the kid some Benadryl if you want.
The worrying hasn’t stopped now that I have my son, Hudson. Right away I wasn’t on board with the new paradigm of babies sleeping on their backs instead of their sides. What if Hudson threw up? Couldn’t he choke? Just when I got comfortable with it he learned to turn over and now prefers sleeping on his stomach. That’s children for you – always keeping you on your toes.