I felt like I’d aged two decades this weekend as I worried about my child’s breathing and whether he’d end up in the hospital. Worrying wears on me like an actual weight, causing my body to ache at the end of the day, my spine to feel like it’s been carrying an extra load.
I was surprised at the extent of my anxiousness. Unlike what I’ll call existential anxiousness (“Am I a good mother? Am I making the right choices? Does my kid have the life I’d want for him?”) this was more tangible. If my son’s breathing didn’t improve, we’d be headed to the pediatrician. If they couldn’t devise a treatment plan with a fair chance of resolving his crackly lungs, they’d send us to UT’s Children’s Hospital. Once there, an IV and some x-rays were certainties, and while I am 100% supportive of getting necessary medical care, the idea of having to hold my son down for an x-ray or while being poked until a vein could be found made me sick to my stomach. I don’t even mind the idea of being in the hospital; it’s the analysis/ admitting process that I dread.
I’ll live with this specific anxiety until Javi (hopefully) outgrows his baby asthma. Every cough or sneeze has the potential to land him in the hospital. Every hospital visits brings the surety of a needle stick and x-rays. While I try not to be hypervigilant*, I also know that quick intervention can prevent that nightmare, so I’m trying to find my equilibrium. I don’t want my child to spend his life indoors in a climate-controlled, air-purified room. I don’t want my child to be admitted to the hospital if we can prevent it. Those desires feel contradictory.
For now, I’m embracing the disparity. His room will soon show up on satellite maps for the electricity usage: humidifier, sound machine, air purifier, video monitor, space heater. It’s a no-cat, no-dog, furbag-free zone. He remains free to roam (insofar as a crawler can) the living room, though, where the dogs and cats get to hang out, too. I will continue to give him ample outdoor time where he’s allowed to chew on sticks and rip up grass and get dirt between his toes.
And thanks to the miracle of modern medicine, I will prevent where possible (Benadryl), intervene quickly (Albuterol nebulizer), and ask for help when I have to (pediatrician, temporary steroids for the inflammation, Tylenol for the painful coughs).
As for me, I will take medicine when I feel sick. Though not doing so helps me understand what Javi’s feeling (my throat hurts, so perhaps his throat hurts; warm liquids make me feel better, perhaps I’ll warm his bottle up), I need to be strong enough (emotionally, if nothing else) to bear the weight of the anxiety so my son doesn’t have to.
I will seek help. The other night my husband sent me to bed with a mug of Theraflu and instructions not to take the baby monitor. Much as I wanted to hear Javi, the break gave me a chance to recover a bit. I called my mom and was reminded that anxiousness is okay. I unloaded every worry and question on my pediatrician, who answered every one.
And I’ll blog. You guys… thanks.
Current plan, for anyone else trying to manage baby asthma or allergies: cold-mist humidifier to facilitate drainage (yea, yuck), NO fan (makes coughing worse), air purifier. I tried elevating his mattress but he kept moving his head to the low side. He gets Albuterol treatments every four – six hours while awake, a half dose of Tylenol when the coughing makes him cry, and Benadryl to manage the snotty nose so he can eat. (Note: my doc gave us the go-ahead and dose on Benadryl, so be sure to ask yours.) He’s on an antibiotic (he had ear infections) and steroid (to kick the crackly lungs) for the next week. In the morning we mix them with a shot of formula, then follow with a regular bottle. In the evening we mix them with yogurt and he eats them off a spoon.
*Example of my parenting philosophy:
Husband: Is Javi chewing on a stick?
Husband: Did you clean it?
Me: It’s a stick. <No>
Husband: Um, how about that grass he’s eating?
Me: Yup. Grass. He’s a kid. Kids eat grass sometimes.
<AAAAAAND, I’ll note that we don’t use chemicals on our front lawn nor do the dogs hang out there (so no pee or poop) and I’m certain neither the grass nor stick were toxic to animals/ people.>