You know – I’ve tried convince myself that my ppd/anxiety aren’t “that bad”. And that I am doing a great job learning to cope with it on my own. Talking about it… helps. Hearing other people open up about their experience.. helps. But it is only momentarily healing.
The reality of the situation is that my anxiety is constantly there. It might not be in full fledged panic mode at all times, but it exists in very small, very real moments throughout every day.
Our first family trip since Sullivan being born happened this past weekend. We visited family in San Diego, and my biggest fear at the beginning of the trip was how Sullivan’s behavior would be on the ride to and from home.
I have spent weeks mentally preparing for his crying and screeching in the car. He still doesn’t do well in the car, so I was convinced it would be a miserable 5-6 hour drive. Thank goodness I knew Calvin would be driving most of the way so I could have a bit of control in the backseat doing damage control if he got too upset.
The thing is, the drive was a breeze. Sure, he fussed here and there, but we only had to make 3 stops on the way there – which really, with two littles, one who is still nursing frequently, I consider that as a win in my book.
Little did I know, the real struggle would come the first night of our stay. We all got settled in to sleep. Sullivan fell asleep first and seemed to be quite content. Mil and I soon followed suit, and before you know it – we were all peacefully sleeping after a seemingly successful travel day.
12:00am: Sullivan stirs awake. I grab him to nurse, as he still nurses quite frequently at night. He’s hot to the touch. Hot enough for me to go from sleepy mama to abruptly awake.
Calvin slept on the couch so the kids could sleep with me in the spare bedroom – so I went out to him to wake him so he could help me assess the situation.
At first we chalked up his heated physical state to the spare bedroom being warmer than most rooms in the house. We stripped him down to his diaper to let him cool down.
It didn’t work.
Insert phase one of my panic attack. I frantically feel my body to see if I’m warm, and go in and few my daughters body to see if she too shares this elevated temp. Both of us are cool to the touch.
Insert phase two of my panic. I begin barking demands at Calvin. “We need a thermometer” – “go wake someone up!” At this point my mind is racing, and as is does regularly, I am forming a worst case scenario conclusion in my mind.
My baby is sick, I don’t know why, and something terrible is going to happen to him if we don’t act NOW. Dutifully, Calvin doesn’t ask questions and finds a thermometer for me.
First we take his temperature by his armpit. 102.1 degrees. My heart sinks, I begin to feel sick to my stomach. My body begins feeling hot. I can literally feel the anxiety radiating out of me. Sullivan pukes, and I end up in the bathroom puking.
Thank goodness I had packed our infant Tylenol, but of course there is no dosage for an infant his age. I call our pharmacy and they are no help. They can’t give dosing for someone his age. She is kind and understanding, but I’m angry! My baby is sick and she should be helping me. Now I feel even more helpless.
She suggests I call his pediatrician and ask them. I’ve never had to do this before, and I’m convinced no one will answer. It’s one AM at this point, so I’m confident I’ll get an answering service with the promise of a call back from a nurse.
Thank goodness that didn’t happen. His pediatrician office was amazing and gave me the dosage over the phone for his weight. We administer his medicine to the best of our abilities, and I pray he choked down enough to make a difference.
Insert panic phase three (i.e. I should know better than to jump on google for anything when I’m in the middle of a panic attack). I google “safe temperature zone for 8 month old” and of course stumble across article after article stating 103 warrants a trip to the ER. Not only that, but how inaccurate armpit temperature readings are. AHHHHH!
Stupid me! I should have known! At this point I can feel my breath becoming rapid, my nausea has returned, and I puke again. I tell Calvin we need to take a rectal temperature reading. He isn’t convinced. He takes his own temperature by armpit, and it’s coming in at 96 degrees. This just confirms to me that Sullivan’s reading is lower than what it is actually is. He is probably sitting at a raging 104, and needs to be hospitalized!
At this point I am convinced Sullivan will start having seizures. A baby his age can’t handle that high of a fever. Now I am fully convinced there will be CATASTROPHIC consequences if we don’t accurately track his temperature and get him the medical attention he needs.
Calvin caves to my request, and we take Sullivan’s temperature again. Rectal this time. 101.5. I can breathe a sigh of relief. At least until I have to check it again in 45 minutes to make sure it isn’t rising.
And the process is repeated. I can’t rest until I know his fever is down. At least below 100* But all this is doing is wearing me out – mentally and physically, on top of already being worn down, mentally and physically from road tripping all morning.
I get it. My thought processes aren’t exactly logical when I’m suffering from panic. I can’t help it. I consider myself a very logical minded person – but when the anxiety hits, there is nothing I can tell myself (or anyone else can tell me for that matter) that will calm me down until I have tangible proof that things aren’t as bad as my mind has made them out to be.
I don’t enjoy thinking that my children will suffer brain damage, or possibly die from an illness. I don’t enjoy constantly worrying that my child is buckled into their car seat perfectly to avoid internal decapitation in the event of a collision. I don’t enjoy getting sick to my stomach if a well trusted family member takes my child out for the day, and then doesn’t answer their phone immediately when I call.
I don’t enjoy suffering from ppd/anxiety – which is why I will no longer live in denial that I do in fact need professional help.
Therapy is something I am actively seeking, and am confident I will find a great psychologist to help me identify underlying causes, and learn to cope/heal from this. #aintnoshameinmygame