Thursday, September 5, 2013

Postpartum Paranoia

I've mentioned it before but it bears repeating - I am a paranoid nutcase. This is not good considering that even the most reasonable, normally sane people turn into paranoid nutcases when they have a baby. So, in my case, I suppose this makes me doubly paranoid and doubly nutty.

I told you in an earlier post about my son's premature birth, and the circumstances surrounding his early arrival only solidified my belief that giving into my paranoia is a good thing. It was my paranoia that allowed the doctors to discover a problem with me that would otherwise have gone unnoticed and, let me tell you, getting that sort of positive reinforcement after a paranoid freak out moment only encouraged me to be triply paranoid after little man arrived. Add to that the fact that he spent 9 days in intensive care at the hospital before being sent home and you end up with the perfect storm of paranoia.

I really didn't want to be a paranoid mom. I try not to roll my eyes too noticeably when I hear other mothers speak of their constant fears that their little Timmy might trip on his shoelaces and plummet down a well belonging to the creepy serial killer from "The Silence of the Lambs" and that's why he's only allowed to wear footwear with Velcro now ... and other such nonsense ... But I do strongly believe that while a healthy amount of loving concern is natural, there's also a point where a mother's paranoia goes too, too far. And let me tell you - the first few days that little man was home from the hospital my level of paranoia sailed well past the "normal" line and soared straight out into crazyville.

The first thing that happened is that GAR and I bought a baby monitor. On the surface this doesn't sound overly cautious, but we bought a monitor designed for only the most paranoid of parents - the Angelcare system. It was recommended to us by many, many paranoid parents who told us that this monitor literally saved their baby's life. How? Well thanks to a special Angelcare movement detector hookup, this monitor sounds an alarm if your baby hasn't moved or breathed in 15 seconds. "What peace of mind this gives you!!!" every paranoid parent everywhere declared.

Ah yes, what peace of mind this alarm gave me when it went off 8 times in one night - blaring as I frantically ran to my baby's cradle in hysterics to see if he was still breathing. Peace of mind as I sobbed through days on end of not sleeping because I refused to put my baby down for even a second - convinced that if I did he really would stop breathing (as fortunate as I was to make it through childbirth and the weeks following without any feelings of postpartum depression - and trust me, GAR the counselor monitored me closely by asking me thinly veiled questions to assess my mental health - I still nearly went delirious from sleep deprivation and paranoia alone). Peace of mind as I checked my newborn back into the hospital to be hooked up to even more monitors for even more examinations (and more hours of not sleeping on my part as those alarms were also going off constantly, further convincing me that my baby was in peril). Peace of mind as the doctors laughed off our concerns by saying such gems as "First  time parents, eh?" (which I don't get ... Are you implying that if I had other kids I wouldn't bother getting this one checked out because, hey, I can afford to lose this one?) and "No one knows what causes SIDS. If he's going to die in his sleep there's nothing you can do to prevent it." (Thanks doc! That's reassuring...) Ah yes, thanks to this alarm I got so many countless hours of "peace of mind" that I can't even count them all here. 

Truth be told my little man was setting off all these alarms simply because he's a really shallow breather. Even the high tech hospital alarms couldn't detect his teeny little baby breaths. So basically we really were panicking over nothing. But thanks to my paranoid hospital check-in I was able to confirm that little man really does suffer from acid reflux - which my pediatrician swore wasn't the case - so score! Another paranoid belief of mine was true ... See, more positive reinforcement! (Which is also probably why I convinced my pediatrician to refer little man to a cardiologist ... Who discovered a hole in little man's heart ... Which I'm told is most likely harmless but, nonetheless, further reinforces my paranoia. It really is a vicious cycle.)

But I've toned it down a bit now. Honestly I have! I returned the baby monitor and now little man sleeps right by my side (in a special cradle that tilts him upright 30 degrees so he doesn't choke on his acid reflux, of couse) - but, hey, at least he's completely monitor free! Baby steps people!

Still, I'm convinced there's something wrong with his belly button. It's an outie and it kind of looks like it's giving me the evil eye when I change little man's diapers. The doc says it's normal but I'm not convinced. Maybe I'll stay up a few more hours googling it ...

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