Sitting Up All Night
Read this on galpod.com.
My daughter has a fever. We went to see the doctor. It's probably nothing, but we went just in case. He gave me an antibiotics prescription just in case she doesn't get better over the next day or two. She'll probably be fine.
But when it's 2 am and I have a grumpy, whining child in my arms who starts randomly talking about cobwebs, all of a sudden my grogginess clears and I'm wide awake. How high exactly was her temperature? Is it high enough for hallucinations? Is it bad enough to take her to the hospital? Can I really sit here and do nothing while my child is potentially at risk?
These thoughts are my default. As an anxious person, this is what I do. I go to the worst-case scenario. And it's real for me. I can see it happening. I sit on my daughter's bed at 2 am, and I see her funeral. I play the entire thing in my head, blow by blow. It's a little difficult to go back to sleep after that. So I stayed with her a little longer, made sure she went back to sleep. That she was still breathing. I check every night, by the way, that they are still breathing.
These thoughts are, of course, fuelled by a tired brain that had a long day and a rough night. And I know what to do. I start breathing slowly, counting my breaths, focusing on the out-breath. Slowly, her breathing also settles. She relaxes into a sleeping mode. I still sit there, counting my breaths. I sit there for another 20 minutes until I know she's ok and I can convince myself that these thoughts can wait for tomorrow.
Some people, who know me just a little, say I'm very calm. The truth is, if I'm ever to get out of bed, I have to be calm. I have to convince myself these thoughts can wait for tomorrow and then go into auto-pilot in the morning so by the time they come back I have more control, and I can put them aside. I usually manage to put them aside, especially if I know rationally that they are unfounded. And in this case, I do. I know kids get fevers. I remember having a fever as a kid. It was the worst thing ever, and I thought I would die of Scarlet Fever like Beth from Little Women. Guess what? I didn't. I also remember getting up the next day and going for my morning run as if nothing happened. Yes, I was that kind of kid. Anxiety doesn't limit itself to when one of my kids or I have a fever.
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