Monday, March 26, 2012

Allergy Anxiety

Flashes of vivid memory came to me this morning. There was October 1, 2007, when I left Nathan at day care for the first time. I hurriedly handed him off and ran out, only to return moments later with a tear-stained face and a bag of forgotten bottles.

Then there was a May day last year, when Owen met Nanny. I was more prepared for my second round of day care beginnings, so my finger only pushed the doorbell once. It was harder than expected.

The remainder of my time wasn't spent well either day. When I got to work, I sat in front of a computer screen with eyes glazed over. I was panic-stricken and frozen with fear.

Unfortunately, I am there again today.

This morning I crossed the threshold of Nanny's house with a baby on my hip and a little box in my hand. I gathered all the caretakers in a room and gave a quick EpiPen demonstration. I told them where to give it, why to give it, and how to give it. I told them to play with the trainer as often as they wanted. They told me no kid in their care would ever eat peanut butter again.

I was happy with that information, so I left. However, halfway to work my stomach managed to twist into a perfect knot. My mind was a blur of possible misunderstandings. I could see my baby, crying and red-faced.

"Did I really show them how to use it or did I rush? Do they know to still call 911 if they ever have to use it? Were they even paying attention?"

It's like starting over. It's like dropping Owen off for the first time and worrying whether his sitters are capable. Now that we know about an allergy that's potentially life-threatening, that worry has grown exponentially. "Can they keep my baby alive?"

As I write this hours later, I know the answer is yes. The anxiety is waning, but I'm ready. I am ready to see my baby whole and well, with cheeks the color they were this morning. I knew Owen's first spring break couldn't last forever. I had to fill my second EpiPen prescription and release him into the care of another. I wouldn't do that if I didn't trust.

Unless our dream comes true and he outgrows it, the fear won't dissipate. For now, though, I will take it day by day. When I get Owen home, I will wrap him up in my arms and know that he is as safe as possible.

We will soak in the sun, we will rock in the living room under the hum of the ceiling fan, and we will read all the food labels.

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