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My biggest fear is that something should happen to me and someone else should raise my girls - and they are too small to understand why. It "eats" away at me daily, even though I know I am healthy and cannot prevent life from happening. My fear is so big that I put off setting up our will because I couldnt bear the thought of nominating guardians for my girls. We did our will last week and I ended up crying in the laywers office. Most people pray for wealth etc. I pray for health so that I can be here to raise my own children.

I am quite, quite paranoid when it comes to the health of my children. I take them to the doctor for the most minor things and if they have to have blood tests etc I get my knickers in a complete knot!

I do get nervous when they are sick, a little. Not to the extreme you are talking about. Plus, my kids are 6 and 8 and with time I think it gets better. A little 1 year old who is sick is much scarier than an 8 year old. Plus, once they started school they were sick a lot. I think you get used to it the more it happens. I never really feel that they will die. I more just feel bad for them and worry about how they are miserable. And it is hard to send them back to school after beign sick because I worry they are not 100% and that I shouldn't send them and then stress about that. But you can't keep them home forever. The first year of real school (kindergarten) was terrible for both kids. Their bodies picked up so much from all those germs. But I think each year is a little better.

I would guess that losing Ben has damaged your ability to react normally to Adam and Kate being unwell. Of course that's a big leap for me as I am no professional.
But I see it as a sort of Post Traumatic Stress situation. You've seen the worst that can happen, you've felt it. Even if you never have a conscious thought of losing Adam or Kate - even if you know they only have a high fever, emotionally you are weakened.
That's my theory.
Perhaps you will cope better as they get older and you see how resilient they are. Or you may be a nervous nellie forever - I hope not.
My ped once told me that little kids get sick ten to twelve times a year.
Normal little kids.
You know I adore you - I hope I haven't overstepped here.

I think it's normal to be anxious and hate them being sick. I think you also have some outisde anxiety issues. That's not being critical and not to say you shouldn't worry, but the feeling you explain is a pretty classic sign of anxiety problems (coming from someone who has them). I just try to deal with mine, but if you're seeing a therapist, there are things they can prescribe that may help.

You're normal (in my book). I'm a wreck when my kids are sick. I always worry about whether I'm reading their symptoms correctly and doing the right things for them. As for the flu...ugh. We had a neverending parade of it here for 3 full months (!!) last winter. I still haven't fully recovered from that misery. ((hugs)) I know it sucks...you have my sympathy.

you are completely normal. they're your babies, of course you're going to worry when they're not 100%. it makes you a good mother. you do however, need to try and remain calm for them (not just yourself). them seeing you all stressed out doesn't help them. it's hard, but try.

big hugs to all the sickies. don't you get sick now too.


This is a new area for me with my biological son. I've always hated it when my step children are sick but either because they were older (5 and 9 at the start of my time with them) or because they have another Mom to look out for them, it wasn't quite the same fear that I have now with my new little guy.

Since he is still so little (not yet 5 months) I am still on the 'did I do something wrong?' bandwagon. When he gets sick I think it's my fault (oh why oh why didn't I breastfeed, it was that chocolate bar I had in the second trimester, etc. etc.) even though I KNOW it's irrational and that kids just get sick. I also worry about all kinds of illnesses he could have - from autism to others, they all cross my mind. I worry that when I start obsessing about these things I'm wasting good quality time that I could be spending blissfully focused on him.

The best solution I've found is to talk to someone about it and get my reassurances that things will turn out okay. My husband is great but for this my Mom is better. Somehow having her tell me I'm being an alarmist calms me down. She also reminds me that I'm doing a great job and that he is a strong little guy and that we will make it through. One phone call with her can change my whole mindset.

Maybe you could try that too? It's long distance but I'll happily give you my Mom's number! ;-)

p.s. for the record - this parenting thing is kind of hard, no?

It sounds like when your kids are sick, you have anxiety attacks. A friend of mine recently found out that she had been having anxiety attacks (trouble breathing, heart palpitations, etc) for a while now-it took three ER visits to figure it out. The anxiety medicine that she was prescribed really helped her get through tough periods of time. Perhaps this is something you can do when you are feeling anxious about your kids being sick?

anxiety is part of parenting I guess. I have been known to stop breathing, break out in a sweat and seat up straight the minute I think of anything bad happening to my kids. It how nature has designed us. imagine if it was the opposite. Society would all be in deep trouble.

When my son is sick, my foremost feeling is that I wish it were me, not him. But I don't fear for his life, typically. We had a scare when he was a newborn that led some doctors to suspect Cystic Fibrosis, and that scared the life out of me. But the flu? Just want him to feel better!

However, I do have a friend who is prone to depression and anxiety, and she feels exactly as you do. She rushes them to the ped for every cough and sniffle, and worries worries worries about them while they are sick. I even said to her something similar to your therapist, and pointed out that you don't die from a cold or the flu. But that did *not* help her at all! I think your feelings are probably a sign of your anxiety issues rather than anything else. Maybe some anti-anxiety meds? Or a different AD that is better for anxiety?

It's totally normal to worry about your kids! But I think when your worries exceed the moment that's when it becomes troublesome.

I totally feel you. I always describe it as jungle drums to my husband. They beat softly in the background and then get louder and louder until the panic wells up and all I hear are the damn drums and I can't even think straight. Usually it is when I am away from them, I do seem to be able to stay calm will illness. If I'm away from them and I know I'll be away for x amount of time, I can be ok. But as that time nears when I'm suppose to get back to them it's the drums and all I can think about is getting back to my babies, THEY NEED ME!! and of course they are fine when I get there and oblivious the panic.

Yes, I go through that exact same thing, but I've been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and also post traumatic stress disorder. I wouldn't be surprised if this is more common for women who have suffered from infertility as well because we have a hard time grasping the fact that something bad ISN'T going to happen. And if you've lost another child, that would definitely just compound that same thing.

Hi Tertia, Jean here. Our sons share(d) an OT and we've chatted in the waiting room on occasion. I think that past experiences, especially the "bad" ones, often leave us with an irrational fear of certain things. My younger son suffered from reflux quite badly when he was young and there were times that he'd sometimes start choking in his sleep if he was not elevated enough in the cot. Even to this day I wake up in the night and sneak through to his room to make sure that he is still breathing...silly, I know, but it's one of those things. The feeling does improve as they get older, if that is any comfort. I think that any parent with 2 young children goes through the sickness spate that you are experiencing. My worst was when the one got chicken pox and then 2 weeks later the other came down with it (those are the times when you need an understanding boss!!)

Wow. You describe me to a T. I'm sure the loss of Ben doesn't help your feelings of anxiety, but I wanted to let you know that this subject (afraid something bad will happen to the kids health wise and they will die) is the exact reason I started Zoloft, and I never lost a child. I don't know if the anxiety over this was to due to my fertility issues and the amount of time and trouble it took me to have my children, or my 3 miscarriages, but i'm inclined to think it had more to do with the realization that bad things do happen to good people. I remember the exact moment the anxiety began. My hairdresser who was a lovely kind woman was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor at 42 years old. I remember thinking she did nothing to cause it and didn't deserve it, and WHAM....I was never the same after that. I remember looking at my kids while they were sleeping and thinking.... what if...... It got to the point that if they had something as minor as a headache I would literally lose sleep- never mind a fever!! Every ache was an impending medical condition. I was like this with myself as well and was always running to the doctor. The anti anxiety medicine saved my life. I was able to go on living without being a basket case. I didn't even realize it was doing anything until I went off it and started freaking out again. I been on Zoloft for over 10 years and I'm just not as anxious as I used to be. I still worry about things, but it is not all consuming like it used to be. So yes, I can relate to your pain......

I think that there is always some level of anxiety when kids are sick. However, it sounds like you suffer from a bit of an anxiety disorder with phobias perhaps. I'm not a psychologist (my sister is, however) but I suffer from a very similar condition. Medical issues (particularly the flu) become very astronomical in my mind! Your kids are resilient. They will bounce back and get better. Perhaps you ought to look into talking to someone about your fears. It has helped me a lot! I still get anxious when my baby or husband is sick but it is manageable. Hang in there!

I have nowhere near that level of anxiety when my kid is sick or injured, Tertia.

I've read that parents who have nearly lost a child are more familiar with "the worst that can happen" and thus have a more difficult time remaining calm about subsequent illnesses or injuries. I would imagine that losing a child would have the same effect. I can't find that article, but I thought it was in the New York Times.

This a badge of motherhood! Mothers feel guilty about EVERYTHING when it comes to their kids! So - when they are sick, you always look for a reason as to why they are sick. "Maybe it's because I changed him in that public baby change room - thats why he's sick"; "Maybe it's because I took him to the playpark - that's why he's sick" etc...
The truth is - kids get sick!! All the time! And there is usually nothing we can do to prevent it, but it doesn't make us stop feeling any less guilty or worry any less about them.

You have suffered the worst loss (IMO) on this planet - the death of a child. And it is understandable why you are so fearful that, God forbid, you could lose another! So - your fear may seem irrational - but it is understandable!

Either that - or you're a nutcase! ;-)
Carry on working through it with the therapist - you ARE normal though!!

I believe that it is biological. I'm sure that you react by being especially anxious because of the loss of your son.

My eight month old has cancer and while there are lulls in the emotional minefield of dealing with this monster, that sick anxious feeling never quite goes away. I've been wondering if it will go away once treatment is over, or if I will always be super anxious with every runny nose.

Am I extra fearful because the worst has already happened to a child of mine?

This would be my totally uneducated guess.

I'm anxious by nature (medicated for it, actually, three cheers for Zoloft) and even unmedicated, I have never had the sort of fear you're describing when my kids were sick. Everybody has their own triggers, of course, but this doesn't sound normal to me. (Which I'm saying less to point out what a nutjob you are and more to tell you that I suspect a good counselor might be able to help you with it.)

Either way, it sounds rotten. Take care of all of you.

You are the only other person I know that feels like this. I am not an anxious person by nature. Not one little bit.

But when my kids are sick, I cant eat, sleep or think an uninterrupted thought. Am with you. I think it also a control thing. Am a bit of a control freak and when I cant MAKE THEM BETTER or DO ANYTHING but watch them suffer (especially when I am not sure what is wrong) is causes me extreme anxiety.

I dont think we are abnormal. We are just moms.

Absolutely. I also am pretty laid back most times, but when my daughter is sick, watch out. Even if it's just a cold. That underlying fear is always there, for however long it takes them to get better. I shudder to think how hard it must be on parents whose children have life-threatening illnesses, as opposed to my daughter's run-of-the-mill colds, flus, and general malaise.

I honestly think it's natural to be protective of your children, but that such fears are compounded by a struggle with infertility and loss. Tertia, you went through so much to have these children, and you have lost children, too. I think if that doesn't put the fear into a person, I don't know what will. My son is now 3 and although my fear of losing him has lessened somewhat, I still catch myself envisioning worst-case scenarios sometimes. I went through so much to have him, and he is so incredibly precious. I guess I feel like I beat the odds to have him here, and the fact that he is still sometimes feels too good to be true.

Honestly, what mom doesn't worry just a little too much? It is quite natural to worry about one's own! I think one major concern of moms is make sure they do the best they can to not let their fears wear off on their children and subsequently make them fear doctors. I've seen that happen so many times, and it's just really unfortunate.

Honestly, what mom doesn't worry just a little too much? It is quite natural to worry about one's own! I think one major concern of moms is make sure they do the best they can to not let their fears wear off on their children and subsequently make them fear doctors. I've seen that happen so many times, and it's just really unfortunate.

Whether your reaction is "normal" or not is a little beside the point ... the real question is this: Is your anxious reaction to your childrens' ordinary illnesses disabling to you? Are you able to function? Take care of yourself and your family? Does your reaction make your children more comfortable, or does it make their situation worse?

My POV is that your reactions seem over-the-top and inappropriate when compared to the actual state of health of your kids -- I understand WHY it's like that, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't strive to moderate your emotional state.

Like you--and like so many of your commenters--I'm the same way. We're on the frequent visitor program at the doctor's office, and I'm okay with that. I don't think the kids' suffer for it (in fact, they seem to like seeing the doctor--go figure).

I do know that a lot of the time my level of concern/anxiety is inappropriate, and I worry that as the kids get older, it will start to affect the way that I parent them (i.e. not letting them do perfectly safe activities that make me nervous for one reason or another). If I think that's happening, I'll investigate anti-anxiety meds for myself.

I get the same anxiety you get. I think it's not something that all mothers have, but it's true that a lot of us have it. I'm sure yours is compounded by the horrible experiences you've had. Losing a child scars you, and this is one of your scars.

A good friend of mine gave me some really good advice once. She told me that her therapist told her, "Will worrying about it help you if you have to deal with it?" Some times it will. If you're worried that your boss is going to be angry at you and you worry all night and come up with a good thing to say to talk him out of it, then that's productive worrying. Good for you for having good anxiety.

If, however, you worry that your kids are going to die--as I have done--then will all that worrying help you if they really do die? Will you be more prepared, more ready, more able to handle it? In my case, the answer is absolutely not. Whenever I start to freak out and panic, I think to myself, "If this thing I am panicking about actually happens, will the fact that I am thinking about it right now help me deal with it?" If the answer is no, then I do my best to not let myself panic. I just have to stop myself from going there and force myself into distraction.

I hope that helps you as it did me.

The trick my therapist and I hit on that works well for me is "not allowed to say what if". It's fine to ask the doctor "What do I need to look for?" "Are any complications likely?", but "what if" means the imagination is in control, which is not good.

It works well for me.

I think you are probably more fearful because you have lost a child. I've always been a worrier but when our daughter died......my children are lucky I let them out of the house! Ok, I'm not that bad but I do find I seem to be more anxious than most parents. I don't ever want to have to try to live through losing another child and my mind is quite good at dreaming up the worst scenario for every fever or ache.

It seems odd that your therapist would tell you to think "what's the worst that could happen" about your children when you have experienced the worst thing that could happen already. My children were always very healthy and are almost grown now, but I used to love when they had fevers. Obviously, I didn't love that they were suffering but I loved bringing their toasty warm little bodies into bed with me and snuggling with them since they weren't snugglers by nature. Never cared for colds though with the crankiness and all the snot.

I am not a paranoid person when my kids are sick, which are rare. (Thank God. knock on woods) But my fear is that something will happen to us before they become adults.

I must be a horrible mother. I don't worry all that much. Colds are a pain in the ass to me. Of course, I hate them being sick and wish they weren't. That's normal. For it to overcome every thought? Only if it were a chronic diagnosis or some unending sickness that could not be explained. If I know what it is and am taking action, I'm pretty set.

I would agree that it's probably your past trauma that causes such an over reaction.

Take care, dear one - I hope well days are just around the corner!

I'm the same way. In fact, my sons ped. suggested it *might* be time for me to seek 'professional help' for my kid related anxiety. Yes, it's only a bug bite, but it could have been MRSA, and then he would Die.
So, it might not be normal, but you're not alone.

the WORST that could happen is that marko decides he prefers you pregnant and you better get started on that quick-like.

re your kids ... RELAX. your kids are well within the spectrum that 99.9% of parents worldwide would call ... uh ... NORMAL. including the ear infections and the tonsils and whatnot.

Wow. Here I was feeling so guilty about not taking well to my kids getting sick. I hate it. My mom would get angry when we got sick and I couldn't understand it. Now I realize she wasn't angry, she was anxious and on edge. I get so edgy when my kids are sick, I am terrified I might miss some crucial symptom and a common cold could turn out to be something more insidious. I think some of it stems from infertility issues and feeling like they can be taken away at any moment after waiting so long for them. I think with some infertiles its like an unspoken fear.Its not like when your little one jumps off the couch and scares the crap out of you and you want to shake them and hug them at the same time.

Hi Tertia. I think worrying comes with the mom job. If you worry, you are just doing what you are biolgically wired to do. It comes from the realization that children are fragile, and that conditions can change very fast. For me this is not only true for disease ('could it be meningitis?','should I go to the doctor just in case?') but also for other instances, for example when I read on a newspaper about a child that gets kidnapped or gets hit by a car while his mom lost sight of him for a few minutes. Your worry keeps you alert and is what protects your family, so I would welcome it and live with it. Ciao.

I wonder if it's a control thing? Are you a control freak like me? If so, maybe it's because you feel so completely out of control when your kids are sick... Just a thought.

The biggest control/anxiety-inducing thing for me with my son is his behavior. I feel like I never know how he's going to behave (there's no middle ground here - he's either angelic or spawn-like), so I dread playdates, etc.

Just a thought!

Honestly? I do think this is related to your history and, particularly, to losing Ben, and clearly (from the comments) you aren't alone, but...whether or not it falls within what is normal, it doesn't sound, uh, healthy or useful. No offense intended here -- I'm not saying (at all) that you are a bad person or not a good mother for feeling this way, but I'm sort of with Sarah, above. It's not like imagining "the worst that could happen" (which is, as you say, dreadful) is helping you prepare for it, nor, honestly, is it probably helping you deal with your kids' needs when they are sick. Right? Having a sick kid is stressful enough without worrying about stuff that might happen but hasn't. It's one thing to think about "what if" and use the likely "what ifs" to plan and prevent, but what you are feeling sounds like it's not (just) that.

And just to throw this out there -- I cannot compare my history to yours because I only had problems getting pregnant, so I don't presume to imagine that I know what it feels like to have had the experiences you have. But I am a fellow infertile and, no, I don't feel this way. For me it comes down to what's useful, and while I am entirely clear that yes, really truly dreadfully horrible things -- god forbid a million times over -- could happen to my son, I am also clear that focusing on that (beyond taking important safety precautions, such as car seats) isn't helpful for anyone, not me, not him.

All of which is a convoluted way of raising the question of whether you may want to look into a way (different therapist, anti-anxiety meds, something) you can get past this, or reduce it.

I have to agree with those who say it must be IF hangover. A veteran of 4 miscarriages myself, my 1st though on reading your title was OMG how can she say "what's the worst that can happen?" Doesn't she know she's tempting fate? Ahem. Apparently I have a little of the anxiety issue myself. I think the commentator who compared it to PTSD was quite insightful.

I think that your experiences of loss and struggle to conceive have led to a greater than normal sense of anxiety. You don't take your children for granted and you know bad things can happen.

I have a 7 year old who I had before any losses. He had some scary childhood diseases (in retrospect) but I was rather cavalier about them - simply doing what he needed and loving him and caring for him. I took him to a naturopath and let fevers run their course without many doctor visits or anxiety.

Then I had 3 losses and my second son was born with a life-threatening and only partially repairable congenital heart defect.

Now, I am much more anxious when either child is ill. I read too much. I check too often. I fear that they will get serious side-effects from common illnesses and try and get vaccinations that I refused last time.

I think the losses and exposure to children who die from serious defects and diseases has changed my worldview from an expectation of health to knowledge of loss and the limits of medicine.

Yay! I am sure I have helped settle your nerves now :) Sorry.

Hi Tertia,

I have a 4,5 year old boy, and i also do hate it when he gets sick!!

I think that having been through what you've been through with little Ben, will always be "stuck" with you, and you will always think of the worst that could happen!! I know that I do! I've also lost a baby, and I also get very anxious / paranoid when my little one gets ill!!

For those of us who has been thtough what we've been through I do think that it is "Normal" to act like that!!

When my little one started going to daycare, he did get sick alot in the 1st year, drs said that he's body has to build up the immune system, and that through getting sick, that that was the only way!!

Hey T. I have not read all the comments, so fogive me if I am just repeating what others have said.

My situation is so different to yours (I fear if I tell you, you will hate me forever, but here goes)

I did not struggle to concieve, I had one miscarriage between my two babes and I have never lost a child. May God Forbid!

I hate it when my kiddies are sick, but I don't get that same anxious feeling that you describe. I would imagine (and I may be talking out my butt here, but anyway), that losing a child shifts your focus on everything, forever. THe loss of Ben has changed you forever, and they way you feel/parent/protect your babes. I understand that 100%. So, even if I am talking out my butt, to me, it makes perfect sense that you feel so anxious when they are ill.

I am so sorry that you have to endure this. That any mother has to feel this anxious when their babies get sick, becuase they KNOW what the worst is. No mother should ever have to know that.


just seen your twitter update! Hope A is done with the puking!!
I HATE puke!! The smell just makes me wanna puke along with them and add a bit more to the cleaning up!!
Poo I can handle - but puke?? eeeeeewwwwww!

Blackbird, you are spot on here. Tertia you are a mother who has lost a child. You had to go throught he most intense grief any woman ever has to deal with. You clawed your way back from that mad, mad place. I hate it that you have this fear shadow chasing you and you know where I believe it comes from. We are going to beak it, soon!

I am with you on this. I have seen the worst that can happen and yes, they can die. But that was with extenuating circumstances - low blood count, strange chromosomes etc. For a 'normal' child I suppose one should not expect the worst from flu or a cold. I have managed to get myself into not freaking out whenever my remaining child gets sick, which, thank goodness, is not that often.

Considering what it took to get to where you are now I daresay a bit of anxiety is to be expected.

If it makes you feel any better at all, Rosebud hasn't ever really been sick (she's nearly three), and I worry about that. All the time. What's wrong with her that she doesn't get sick?

Hi, I'm neurotic for no appreciable reason.

I empathize completely. My daughter is a week younger than Adam and Kate, and, here's the thing, she did come pretty close to dying from a 1-in-a-million case of bad luck.

She gets febrile seizures, not a big deal, but she's had two that lasted longer than an hour. And a couple days after her first big one, she got RSV and got septic. She was two years old, so she wasn't at high risk for complications from RSV. But she crashed in the ER and I had to watch as the ICU team rushed to get a central line into her limp body. They used that line to run chilled saline through her body to bring down her raging fever (over 106) and then to administer the medicine to support her crashing blood pressure. Then we spent a week in the hospital, half of it not knowing if she would recover. And after all of that, we still don't have a decent explanation for why she was so sick. (She never got that sick from the RSV itself.)

So now I live with my heart leaping from my body whenever she gets sick. Add to that the tossing medicine into her whenever she gets any fever, in an attempt to prevent another huge seizure, and I'm a joy to be around when my kids are sick.

I understand completely.

Don't have time to read all the comments, so please forgive if someone already said this.

Not just what's the worst that could happen -- but then you must ask yourself HOW LIKELY IS THAT? When we are anxious, we treat a 0.001 likelihood the same way as a 99% likelihood, although they are in fact, very very different.

How many times have your children had fever AND THEY DIDN'T DIE? How many times have you had fever when you were a child AND YOU DIDN'T DIE (answer -- every time!) We need to rein our anxiety in to deal with the things that are likely, not everything that is possible. Heck, remember the bike helmet & shoes discussion? You made a good decision that the likelihood of them getting hurt on the first spin around the driveway with both parents right there was pretty low and it was okay. Some of the people who jumped on you were going on the "it could happen" theory. But that didn't mean it was likely in the situation.

Good luck!
Susan (whose 2 yr old has had yet another ER visit this week at 4 am, so I know from it "could happen."

Tertia I feel the same way and am sure no one in my family understands, I think this extra fear comes through all the miscarriages, I had 4.
I think it will always stay with you the fear and the amazment that you have a child/children, you finally have what you so long wished for....

OMG - you have described me to a tee. I panic about everything - especially when my kids are sick. My heart lives in my throat until they are better! Good luck!

I also get very fearful and anxious when my son get sick with evena cold. he has asthma so his colds are usually a precursor to wheezing. I am not sure how normal it is, but I can definitely relate! Now that I have a new baby, everytime she sneezes I start wondering if she is going to get sick!


for this reason i never doctor my own children. all my knowledge just turns to mush in my head when they get sick

I believe it is both biological and spriritual. Their life force and thier cells (all their body cells) were once yours. You will never be completely separate.

You are drawn to and connected to your children in this way. Do you not feel the happiest of happy when you hear thier laughter? It is the same when they are sick. You have to gather your strength, instead of gathering your anxiety. They feel your strength and will help them heal themselves. They also tap into your anxiousness. You might find that the flu won't take two-three weeks next time.

My children took one week to heal tops. I meditated on giving them my strength and healing experiences.

My friends tell me it's out there, but they also say it works. Try it.

Oh Tertia, of course you worry and panic and try to adjust every time your little ones are ill. You have lost babies already, and you KNOW how easily that happens. That knowledge never leaves you. After my little one died 23 years ago, I started to see death as something that DOES happen, and as something that no-one can prevent in many cases.

Before Emily died, I knew kids could die. After she died, I knew that kids DO die. That absolute knowledge shapes my reality constantly.

My struggle since then has been to not focus on what MIGHT happen (in the worst case scenario, we are all going to die sometime, somewhere, so no point denying it :( ) because that cuts into my happiness and the happiness of my family and friends.

I am aiming for a gentle acceptance of the things I can't avoid accompanied by a passionate daily celebration of the wonderful things that life offers me right now. You do this already, celebrating the amazing and special and ever-so-ordinary but wonderous things that your kids bring to your life, and on the other side of that you are so aware of the blackness and bleakness of what might happen. You already celebrate Ben, at the same time your heart aches to have him in your arms one more time. You celebrate Adam and Kate, at the same time the axe of possibility hangs over you all and you know it. That is life at its most basic level.

One thing that has worked for me is realising that my anxiety is only that (the jungle drums comment is so apt), and that it sits around waiting for something on which to focus. Like a tic, or a twitch, or a limp - I have it anyway. Regardless of the circumstances. Give me a sick kid, and in it comes like a tornado. My 11 month old daughter had a croupy cough yesterday, and choked a little as she cried. My response? I picked her up out of the cot and ran downstairs patting her back frantically, quite sure that she was going to die.

I have held my own dead baby in my arms and breathed into her cold unresponsive lips, willing her to live again. I have lain on a bed in a cold doctors clinic at 3am as another little life slipped from my body on tides of cramps and blood. I have lain in a scan room watching the technicians face as she looks for a heartbeat that we both know died days before. Those memories walk with me every day. I am not mad, or crazy or sick. Of COURSE I will re-experience them time and again. Why? Because I am human. I am a mother. I carried those babies inside of my own body, feeding them from my own sources of nourishment. The umbilical cords may have been cut or torn, but my connection to them never will be. To love and raise the baby I have now, I have to acknowledge Emily and her life and death, and my other two unseen babies without denial. They shape me still. They are part of my every movement still. As are your babies, those who still live and those you have lost.

Don't let the anxiety control you. Treat it like a big ugly dog that rushes at you barking and snarling, slavering at the chops - order it back in its corner and watch it slink back with its tail between its legs. And don't be ashamed that it threatens you still - of course it does; it threatens us all. But you have managed to keep it at bay this far, and you will continue to do so.

I thought about taking anti-depressants once when grief for Emily knocked me around so much. But my husband - in his gentle wisdom said that while I might eliminate the low points of sadness and despair, but I would also take the edges off the happiness and joy and delight I also experience.

Where there is great love and happiness, there is inevitably great pain.

Why should we be ashamed of the grief and fear and anguish when we are so open with our love and joy and delight? Why will we not allow ourselves to feel the agony as freely as we do the pleasure of living and loving? Those emotions are part of who we are, part of who you are - and you have earned them. They NEVER overwhelm you completely Tertia, so let them be.


Having lost Zoe, I get pretty paranoid about Nellie being sick at times. For me though, it's not the flu that does it - it's just the thought of anything causing her death. (I also have moments where thinking about my own death and someone else having to raise her scares me witless.) I can't go to sleep at night until I've checked she's still breathing. When I wake up in the night, I sometimes have to go and check on her before I can fall asleep again. While it's normal to worry, I think we both have some anxiety issues from having lost a child... which makes us pretty normal, actually.

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