Waiting Week: Worry Wednesday


We’ve been to the E.R. a few times.

There’ve been falls and head bumps, exams and x-rays. When my firstborn was really little, we found her with an open package of penny nails, several of which were in her mouth.We didn’t know what to do. So we watched and waited. That night she woke up screaming, twisting around and arching her back. So we rushed to the hospital. I was understandably and justifiably worried.

One x-ray of her digestive system later showed she hadn’t actually swallowed anything sharp. We have no clue why she’d been acting as if she were an inside-out pincushion, but now I worried that we had her x-rayed for nothing, that we had irradiated her. I’m not one to let the answer to my worry allow me to stop worrying.

Since then, I haven’t done well with the wait-and-see medical approach. Waiting means worrying.

When my secondborn climbed up on a small picnic table on our patio and fell off headfirst onto the concrete before anyone could grab her—and then started crying and vomiting—we rushed her to the E.R. Turns out she was fine. The doctor told us that throwing up isn’t necessarily a sign of a concussion in children that young. But upon checkout, we got the requisite speech and paperwork: Keep an eye on her for a while. If she develops any of the following symptoms, come back.

That’s the part that tears me up. For the next 72 hours or so, I braced myself for the worst. Forget that a medical professional told me she was fine and the likelihood of any long-term (or even short-term) issues was incredibly small. There was a chance (however unlikely) that something bad was happening in my girl’s brain—something no one could see—and I was powerless to do anything about it.

I equate waiting with powerlessness. If I had the power, I would have the answers when I wanted them and wouldn’t have to wait for an all-clear sign. And I don’t like feeling powerless.

At 34 years old, I find myself jealous of older people, people at the ends of their lives, who can look back and see that all their children survived and thrived, that everybody made it through, that even the big stuff turned out OK. I know that’s not the case for everyone—bad stuff happens.

I just need to figure out how to balance that knowledge with appreciating and enjoying and having peace with what I have and where I am now.

How do you deal with waiting?


8 thoughts on “Waiting Week: Worry Wednesday

  1. RobotDancing

    I know that worry. My boy fell off a chair onto a tiled floor when he was a tot, I had to wake him at intervals throughout the night. And the symptoms to look out for? Drowsiness, crankiness, etc – generally the kind of thing you would expect to see in a child that is being woken from his sleep!
    How to deal with waiting? I guess I use a lot of distraction to let my mind escape, it doesn’t always work. Depends on how good the book you are reading is!

    1. Absolutely! Symptoms of potential serious problems seem to be the same as normal kid behavior. And books do certainly take my mind off things for a while. I guess in the absence of a cure, I could always use a distraction …

  2. Is there ever a moment you can sit back and know you have survived all your children? On your deathbed, I suppose. At 24, I already couldn’t say that since my first son died at birth and I was a control freak with my second son (in part because the doctor told me my second newborn was very ill). It turned out fine. I now have two healthy sons and when emergencies do arise, a calm comes over me that allows me to deal with them. There’s plenty of worrying to do when the time comes, so let it go…

  3. It’s crazy how in one moment human bodies (especially kid bodies!)can be so indestructible, and in other moments so fragile. Kids bounce off everything, like they’re made of rubber. It’s hard to believe I’m still alive today, after crazy falls and car crashes and landing on my head and whatnot.

    At the same time, there are so many things that can assail us out there – everything from penny nails to meteor strikes. I think there’s something about living on the edge of being snuffed out, dancing between robustness and fragility, that really does a number on the human psyche. So many ways to die . . . and yet so many of us still live. Hard to grasp that dichotomy, sometimes. And especially hard, if fragility comes sooner rather than later, as for many it obviously does.

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