Monday, February 20, 2012

cataloging worry

I've been told by my counselor to write out the worry, the moments when the baseline anxiety spikes.

It seems to me I am the most anxious when I can't see Bennett.

When I'm in the shower while he bounces in his jumper in the doorway. Sometimes he likes to hang out, watch the dog, listen to the shower, observe life, so he goes quiet.  I worry he is gone, that someone has walked in the house, picked him up, and walked out.  Two seconds later he starts bouncing again, feet slapping the hardwood as he babbles away, and I stop listening, finish my shower.

At night when he is snuggled in his nursery, sleeping soundly, I worry he will die in his sleep.  He likes to be warm when he sleeps, and we want him to sleep soundly, so we wrap him in two blankets.  I worry he will suffocate, that it will be our fault if he dies because we wrap him in blankets.  He is older now, able to turn his head well, we keep the blankets wrapped around him and well below his shoulders, but I still worry.  I pray over him, ask the Lord to send angels, his sister too, to sit nearby and watch over him while he sleeps.

When I'm frustrated because he won't sleep, or we've had a long day, or we're simply not working well together I worry someone, some unknown who decides these things, will take him away.  I don't know if that away is the final away - as in death - but I do know he would no longer be mine because I'm not patient or appreciative enough.

The worry stems from her death, yes, but it also stems from the fear that I am a terrible mother.  And terrible mothers don't get to keep their children.  I've shed the notion that Charlotte died because of something I did - or didn't - do. Mostly.  But when things are rough with Bennett, when I'm worn down, overwhelmed by being a mama, the primary caretaker as well as a wife, when it feels like a lot to manage, I wonder if she died because someone - again, that unknown being - decided I wouldn't be fit to mother Charlotte. And down the road, in the distant, or not so distant, future this person will decide I'm not fit to be Bennett's mother.

And now we are in the midst of this possible pertussis madness (try to say that three times fast) accompanied by Bennett's good friend: the all over body rash. I'm staying calm - I know this because I have not screamed at J. Screaming at J usually means there is something else going on, and more often than not it's anxiety.

After speaking with his doctor this morning we've decided to put him on antibiotics just in case he was exposed to pertussis.  Before Charlotte died I may have said, "It's just a cold, he's had two doses of the vaccine, we don't know for sure if he was exposed to pertussis, let's wait and see, let it run its course."  Now I'm the mother who gives the medical student sent in before the doctor a suspicious stare.  Medical student, really?  My baby may have been exposed to pertussis, send the doctor, and a mobile lab, please.

B chews on Sophie while we wait for the doctor

But who doesn't parent differently after a loss?  Mamas are supposed to protect, and I couldn't protect Charlotte, so now I have to restrain myself so I don't overprotect Bennett.  He doesn't deserve a mama who cannot stand letting him out of her sight.  It's not fair to him.  He needs a normal childhood, not one that has been overshadowed by a sister who isn't even here.

These last few days have been hard.  Bennett falling for the first time, the rash, the possible illness, but I've managed to keep my wits about me.  J and I have been a little short with each other, yes, but I blame any shortness on the persistent rash - it makes us crazy to watch it break out and be helpless to stop it despite the use of every recommended cream and lotion.

There has been some worrying lately, but it hasn't been out of control hand wringing can't sleep because the baby may die if I don't watch him every second worry.  It's so strange to look back on where I was just after he was born.  I was so calm, so certain he was fine people commented on it.  I'm not sure when I went from that state to one where anxiety is king.  I wrote about how great it was to not feel anxious on September 19th.  Now it's February 20th and I worry so much sometimes I feel like I can't breathe.  I am trying to work through this.  I am doing my best to find a way back to that mid-September bliss.


  1. You are an AMAZING mother and you constantly prove that by your love for Charlotte and Bennett! So sorry for the anxiety momma - I fear I will go through the same thing...

  2. You are a very wise and excellent mama. So sorry for how tough these last few days have been for you - so much is going on!

    Bennett is adorable in that pic, chewing on Sophie. :)

    Hang in there. Eventually, you will find your way back to bliss, and hopefully sooner rather than later. Keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers!!

  3. Angie, you are doing everything right. Loving Bennett and Jon are the best things you can do right now. After Bailey was born, I had a lot of anxiety with having her at 40+...and every child I have had it seemed that I would never possibly be able to love the new one as much as the one before. But I did, and Bailey is fine, although I pray every day to God to keep her and all of the rest of my children safe because it's a gift that we have to be mothers of these precious little (and big later) ones. We just have to cherish every moment we have with them. Try not to let the anxiety take over the sweet tender beautiful moments you do have with him. I know that his rashes have got to be frustrating (wait until his first head lice scare!) haha! but know that you're doing everything that you can to give him the best life he could possibly have. God chose you and Jon to be Bennett's parents for a reason. Because you could love him more than anyone else and he could love you back. As it should be. -- <3 Pam

  4. I so hope you don't mind me posting my thoughts. I know we don't know each other that well, but I really remember the anxiety I had and wanted to let you know that I think you guys are great parents.

  5. Have you considered using a sleep sack? I also like to feel like Aden is warm enough, so on cold nights we put him in a fleece sleepsack. And then I put a crocheted blanket in the crib so I can have that tucking in feeling. We also use a video monitor, but not sure how much that helps.

    I think you are doing great, and B is adorable.

  6. OH god the shower, yes. I freak out when he goes quiet. And I freak out if he cries. And I worry if he sleeps too deeply.
    I wish I had the answer.....

  7. Err, that's me, Beth A. Not sure what happened.

  8. I share your rash frustration. Eli has skin like a lizard now, and nothing we do helps. He has these tiny patches of eczema that get scabby and infected because he won't stop messing with them. I just don't know what to do anymore.

  9. I can relate to all of much. Every time I get frustrated with Orrin or say I need a break, I feel like he will be taken from me. It's not quite so overwhelming as it used to be, but it's still there.
    Love to you!


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