As some of you may have read in my recent post about our holiday to Lisbon, whilst we were away H became unwell. It started with a bit of grumpiness, then it continued on to a low grade fever, poor sleep, refusing to eat and resulted in a teary, hungry and energy-drained mess. We were pretty confident it was her molars cutting coupled with a minor bug from nursery / travelling. But as we were abroad and armed with only a few sachets of calpol, I started to feel worry about her like I have not felt to date. For two days, as my fatigued brain fluctuated back-and-forth between naive optimism and crying, the monologue in my head went something like this:
“Oh god, what’s wrong with her?”
“It must be her teeth, yes it’s definitely her teeth!”
“But a fever isn’t typically linked with teething. She must have caught a bug….”
“She feels pretty hot, what if she has a fit?!”
“Are we able to take her to a doctor in Portugal? Or can we only do it in an emergency?”
“What if something happens in the night – who do we call?!”
“If there is something wrong, what if we needed to stay at hospital when she just wants to go home?!”
“How can I encourage her to drink more?”
“She needs to eat. We need to go and buy ‘normal’ food for her to see if she’ll eat something.”
“Oh no, she’s crying again. She sounds so sad. What can I do to make her stop? Am I missing something? Is that something on her tongue?!”
“She just smiled at Sam pulling a face. She can’t be that poorly then surely…?”
“Her cheek is incredibly red. What if it’s not teething. I’m sure I saw a tweet about ‘slap cheek’ – could it be that? I should look up the symptoms.”
And thus it continued for basically the entire holiday until we got out of Luton airport and stood waiting for the bus back to the car park. At that point anything related to Portuguese health care was crossed-off my inner autocue, but the rest continued on loop, even as she started eating and walking around more normally.
Two days after we got home, she went back to nursery. She was still obviously recovering, but we decided being with her friends might help her get back to normal. When we hadn’t had a call by 10am my stress-levels started to drop and I started to believe she was on the mend. When we picked her up she’d had a reasonable day considering which also made me quite happy. But then her key worker mentioned they’d noticed a “bit of a rash” over lunch time and my panic levels rapidly rose again. If it isn’t one thing making me worry about her, it’s another.
This whole situation has made it quite clear that I suffer quite significantly from “Mummy Worry”. Sam worries, but not in the same neurotic, panicky, obsessive way that I do. Even when H is well, I worry about her. So when she’s poorly it becomes all-consuming: I am distracted, I often don’t eat properly myself and unless I am truly exhausted the worry permeates my sleep. In some ways I’m the result of an overly informed generation with the ability to Google any worry or concern (sometimes finding reassurance but more often than not finding more cause for concern) and “warning signs” for countless illnesses being very well communicated. This can only be a good thing for infant health, but it does bring an extra worry burden to parents.
I try getting myself to work through the facts logically; I try breathing to clear my head; I try keeping busy to focus my brain on something else. But the underlying fear I have that something bad will happen to H always manages to win through. It has made me wonder recently, am I destined to have this eternal feeling of worry forever more?! I only hope it will ease as she grows-up and can express herself more, look after herself more. One thing is for certain though, I definitely need to find a way to manage it until that time comes!
Do you have any tips for working through Mummy-Worry? I’d love to hear them.