Little Miss Hypochondriac

Monday, January 23, 2012 

I have been known (once or two-hundred times in my life) to self-diagnose. Instead of rationalizing that the pain in my shoulder is from a pulled muscle or pinched nerve, I automatically know I have some form of rare, debilitating condition or illness.

I went for asthma testing in high school even though my only symptom was shortness of breath while playing soccer (duh.) I had an EKG done before I turned 25 even though there is no family history of heart problems and the pain in my chest was diagnosed as acid reflux. You name it; I’ve had the test.

To a degree, I think this isn’t such a bad problem to have. I know a ton of cases of illness where a different outcome may have occurred with early detection. But to the other degree, you have a little bit of the ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’ syndrome if you’re a person like me.

Over the years my husband, sister, mother, friends have learned to tune me out with reassuring comments like, “You’ll be fine,” and “I’m sure it’s nothing serious.”

One of my all-time favorites was from my dad (a actual doctor.) I told him I was pretty sure I had some sort of tumor because I’d been having severe headaches and asked if he would give me an MRI. He looked at me as serious as he could and asked, “Sarah, if you have cancer do you really want to know about it?” (Do you think he was sick of listening to me invent imaginary illnesses, or what?) And in case you were wondering, my tumor turned out to be a simple case of astigmatism cured by toric contact lenses.

Knowing what a paranoid person I am, I was really worried about becoming a mother. I was afraid I would want to keep my children in vacuum-sealed crates somewhere safe where no germs or infections or strange people could contact them. I had visions of me carrying them around in special, animal purse carriers like teacup poodles.

I was shocked when my daughter was born and I didn’t feel the need to sanitize the entire house with hospital-grade cleaner. I didn’t feel the need to take her to the doctor daily, and really the only time I freaked out in the first year of her life was when she started to choke on a piece of carrot while learning to eat semi-solid foods. (As I danced around her high chair waving my arms like a lunatic, I frantically yelled for Chuck to do something. Instead he watched her calmly and told me to give her a second. Wouldn’t you know she coughed that carrot right up, just like he knew she would.)

Well, by the time my twins were born I was about as mellow as mothers come. I’d gone from freaking out at the sight of a drop of blood to telling my boys not to come and disturb me while I tried to sleep unless someone was missing an entire body part.

As the weeks went by and my twins started to grow and develop, we were all a little surprised that Brylee (our smaller Baby B) began looking bigger than Brooklynn.

I’d ask family and friends their opinions and everyone told me the same thing, “They’re two different babies. You can’t compare them to each other.” (That’s easier said than done when you’re spending 24-7 with them, doing the exact same thing for one that you’re doing for the other. But I tried to take this advice and remain calm.)

Around this same time, I developed a little bit of a complex when it came to Brooklynn. I began to worry because she would not smile at me. She had the most serious look on her face all the time, and she had these eyes that you felt like were piercing through to your soul. Everyone joked that she must have gotten her personality from my dad and told me to relax. “Maybe she just doesn’t like you,” my mom would joke with me. “Leave that baby alone. She’s fine.”

As the weeks went on, Brylee got bigger – began developing fat rolls around her thighs and extra chins along her neck – and Brooklynn still looked pixie-like. I honestly wondered to myself if she might be a little person. About this time she also started to develop mucousy stool (I know, TMI.) Everyone told me it was normal because I was breast-feeding, but something just didn’t feel right.

NEVER second-guess that mother’s intuition!

One Friday night while I was changing Brooklynn I just felt this wave of fear rush over me, and I knew something wasn’t right. I told Chuck we had to take her to the doctor first thing in the morning. I didn’t care if I was being paranoid or not.

When our doctor put our baby girl on the scale, my heart dropped. She was almost four months old and only weighed eight pounds! She’d lost nine ounces since her last appointment. We were immediately told to get to Children’s Hospital – and to take a bag because we would probably be staying a while.

As we shuffled our other kids to our parents, got bags packed and got on the road all I kept thinking was, “What’s wrong with my baby?” and “How did I not know how much weight she’d lost? I’m her mother, how did I not see that?”

The Emergency Room doctor admitted us as Failure to Thrive onto the infectious disease floor because he was concerned about her stool.

Chuck got us settled in, but then left. I was all alone in solitary confinement…with my baby who I was pretty sure didn’t like me. I’ve never felt so alone in all my life.

The staff at Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati, OH is absolutely AMAZING! I cannot say enough positive things about them. The doctors quickly reassured me that my daughter was A) not a little person and B) developmentally right where she was suppose to be as a four-month-old. The little stinker would even smile at the doctors and nurses. She was just small, and we just had to see if there was something major that was causing her to be small.

Brooklynn and I spent the next five days in the hospital – just the two of us. It was extremely hard being away from my other children, especially Bianca. But the whole ordeal was a blessing in disguise, because Brooklynn and I had time to bond one-on-one, no twin sister, no three-year-old sister, no big brothers…just mommy and Brooklynn.

All of the tests ruled out any major illnesses or conditions – Thank the Lord above, and the doctors let us go home with a strict feeding schedule and orders for weekly weigh-ins at the doctor’s office.

It’s been four months since that Saturday in September, and Brooklynn continues to gain weight and develop. She’s still not on the growth chart for her weight yet (weighing in at a whopping 13 lbs. 11 oz.) but I have to turn it over to God and know that she’s okay.

I still take her in for regular doctor’s visits, asking what I’m sure sound like the most ridiculous questions ever. The latest – Is it normal that my daughter sweats?

Really? My poor child is going to have such a complex!