When you have a child you think “I’m going to be cool about this.” “I’m going to not panic over a hangnail.” “I’m going to understand how to treat a simple cold and get over it and move on.”
That whole adage about now you freak out over everything for the first child and how you can sit and watch your third child eat dirt from the garden and think “Meh, it’s got fiber in it” doesn’t seem to apply to us. I don’t know if it’s cause I’m a naturally paranoid person or if cancer did this to me, but like much in my life, I like to blame the cancer.
My Cancer Warrior, Sophia Tempee was a sick baby, and she trained me to react to things like fevers and coughs and babies in pain by taking the child straight to the doctor. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. In fact… prepare to cough up $200…
As a result, I have reacted this way for both of my smallest. My son, Archer, was born 6 years his older sister, and our littlest, Vivi, kinda popped in for fun 18 months later, just cause I didn’t look busy enough or something. And with both Archer and Vivi, I still have that easy to use Panic Button, and I whack that thing good and hard anytime they do anything out of the ordinary. Such as teething. Or sneezing.
It’s a bit easier to resist the panic button for Archer. I think it’s cause he looks so much like me, and while there are definitely similarities in his appearance with his older sister, (you can pick them out in a crowd as siblings), they aren’t identical. But still, he has a quiet night, and I find myself crawling out of my skin, staring at him as he sleeps, going over possible cancer symptoms in my head…
Vivi? She fell off of Sophie. I’m not sure Dan and I were involved. She’s just a little bitty version of her older sister. So Vivi teething leads her into a crying bout, refusing food, slight fever…. and all of that combined sends me in to a fit. Or a bloody nose from falling on her big block table leads to 3 am phone calls to the pediatrician about bloody spit up over 7 hours after the fall because a teeny bit of blood left over from the previous drama makes it into her mouth. Extra pediatrician visits for bruises on her legs. She’s learning to walk. Of course she has bruises on her legs. ~sigh~
As I sit here now, staring at Vivi, who has had a normal one-year-old, just-learning-to-walk-baby kinda day, I’m lingering on the overly long nap she took. On the fact that she has a diaper rash. On the fact that she for some reason refused the sweet potatoes that she normally inhales (though she ate enough turkey meet next year’s Thanksgiving turkey requirements). And I’m fighting the urge to take her to the walk-in clinic to have her checked out. Over nothing. I thought by the third kid, I would be okay with her eating dirt. When does that kick in?
What no one tells you when talking about having another kid after your chemo warrior is that those panicked thoughts don’t go away. The cancer has you conditioned to look for the worst. It has changed your response to normal stuff. And the high cost of pediatric visits have NOT gone down cause the cancer is gone. They’ve just been shifted to another kid or two. My kids have got to stop getting bruises and teething and getting regular run-of-the-mill colds.
Maybe in a year or two I’ll be cool with the dirt eating, snotty, runny nose, messy little kids having little fevers and stuff. But I’m two and a half years into having a healthy “normal” (this is a relative term for my genetic pool) kids… you’d think it would have kicked in by now…