Sleeplessness, anxiety, and a sick child

My plan was to go to bed really early.

But I find myself getting into bed around 10:30, much later than expected.

At least I was packed and ready to go away with my husband tomorrow.  Getting away for a long weekend alone is not easy (schedules, planning, childcare, etc), which is why we haven’t done this in five years.

But just as I am settling in, I hear a crying child, a sound I don’t hear much anymore now that my girls are 9, 7 and 4.

And as I walk down the hall to my youngest daughter’s bedroom, I recognize the cry.  Even before I touch her I know she’s sick.

So I take her to bed with me, hoping she is hot because she was in the sun all day (wishful thinking), and then I stay awake the rest of the night going through scenarios and what ifs.

I am still awake when my husband gets up at 5 a.m. - he is flying out earlier than me so he can get some work done before I arrive.

As he leaves I tell him I will see him soon, but in the back of my mind I really wonder.

I know I’m not going to get any sleep, so I get up and make at least one decision.  I let my college students know I won’t be teaching class in the morning because I have to take Skylar to the doctor – it gives me peace of mind knowing my morning is clear.

Around 7:30 a.m. my mother-in-law (GG) arrives because she will be watching the kids while we’re away.  I leave for the doctor and she helps my other two get ready for school.

And within 10 minutes at immediate care, I hear that it’s strep throat.

Of course.

My daughter rarely gets sick and she has never been on antibiotics, but I guess today is the day.

So I drop Skylar off at home with GG and head to Walgreens for a prescription.

And as I drive, I start to cry – I am so tired and so bummed.

As I enter Walgreens I momentarily pull it together.  I sit down to wait for the medicine and then call my husband to discuss possible scenarios.

The crying resumes - maybe I shouldn’t go, maybe I should show up tomorrow, maybe you can fly back home and we will just have a fun weekend in the city….

He lovingly disagrees, telling me that it will be OK, that his mom can take care of Sky, and that everything will be alright.

But I continue to cry because I feel like I have to make this big choice, a choice that feels really difficult because I am sleepless, because I feel anxious and because I am a mom.  This causes me to cry harder and the elderly people waiting for their prescriptions look at me with concern.

And then I remember to breathe.  Even with my sleeplessness, I know that I have to stop and breathe.  I have whipped myself into a frenzy and I have to come back to reality.

So I breathe and let go.  I let go of creating negative stories or reliving past experiences.  Just for a moment I release the fear, the anxiety, and the sleeplessness.

And within that momentary peace, I decide to use the coin toss.

Not for the coin to tell me what to do, but to figure out how I really feel.  If I am excited about the outcome, I know it’s right.  If the toss bums me out, I know what I really want.

So instead of using a coin, I think about what I want to hear GG say when I get home.

What will feel better – if she wants me to go, or wants me to stay?

And after visualizing both scenarios, I feel how happy it makes me to hear her say, “Go”.

So I know what I want to do.

And when I get home, GG tells me right away that she is completely comfortable staying with Skylar and that if I feel comfortable going, she really thinks I should go.

But the big test is ahead of me – I go up to Skylar’s room to give her some medication.  She slowly takes it with her eyes closed and then quietly lays back down with her back to me.

I stay on the floor next to her bed thinking she is soothed by my presence (or maybe I am soothed by her presence?).

Then she slowly turns around, looks at me and says, “You can go now.”

I know she means I can leave the room so she can sleep, but somehow I feel she is offering me a gift of approval.

And then my sister-in-law calls and tells me to go.

Then I get a text from my friend Lara saying to have fun, and then a text from my parents telling me to have a good time.

Then my older girls come home for lunch and tell me they will be fine, that they are excited for their time with GG, and that they will help take care of Skylar.

And then I get a text from my husband, a hopeful message reminding me to take care of myself and trust that all will be fine.

So I find myself in a taxi on the way to the airport, and then on a plane.  I am sitting in a middle seat, and every 30 minutes or so I cry a little bit – the guy to my left keeps his earphones on and ignores me, and the woman to my right keeps offering me gum.

I am happy with my choice, but I still feel uncomfortable and sad.

And because I need some balance, I pull out my notebook and start some stream-of-consciousness writing.

And then almost immediately I see the words on paper, the words that always bring me back to reality.

What are you going to choose – love or fear?

It’s the mantra of my life, but one that can be easily forgotten in a state of sleeplessness and anxiety.

Do I not move forward in fear of what could happen – Sky could get sicker, the older girls could get sick, maybe GG gets sick, what if I get sick, what if I feel sad the whole trip…

Or do I move forward with love – everyone is supporting you as you take this trip, your husband is waiting for you, all is well, good things await, trust the process, enjoy your adventure…

I know which one feels better, and I know who I want to be.

So the tears stop and I step off the plane to find my husband waiting with roses, excited that I am joining him in Arizona to celebrate our 10 year anniversary.

And before I say anything, he hands me his phone so I can listen to a voice message from GG, “Sky woke up and her fever is gone – she is downstairs watching television…she’s doing great.”

And again, I breathe.



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  • fb_avatar

    great article sweety. especially the part about me.

  • fb_avatar

    Loved this! Hope you had a great anniversary celebration!

  • thank you - we had a great trip.

  • fb_avatar

    Really great one. I am a mother of a 1 year old and have these fears all the time. The next decision I must make, I will remember this blog entry and I know it will help me breath and choose the right path. Thank you for sharing all your blogs and books. I enjoy every single one.

  • In reply to Kelly Zownorega:

    thanks Kelly - over over again I find I have to get really quiet to "hear" myself....otherwise it's other people's voices (past and present) telling me what to do. xo

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