I am by nature an obsessive compulsive person. I admit that, in general, these tendencies have served me well. And, with my son's current medical and physical challenges, once again these obsessive compulsive tendencies have helped me to meet his many needs. For example, Max is on a very regimented medication and feeding schedule. The medications are time sensitive, and his feedings are rate/volume dependent as he continues to rely on tube feedings for nourishment. I keep a daily log that includes time, meds, feedings, diapers and any observations that might be relevant to how he's tolerating his feedings. I have notebooks full of daily entries that date back to the day of his discharge from the NICU, over 3 years ago! Give me a date, and I can tell you how much he "ate", how many diapers he had, when he slept and whether or not he was "sick". And, on more than one occasion, I have referred to these detailed entries when providing medical history for my son, especially with GI related issues.
But, there is a down side to this obsessiveness. I am exhausted. I am exhausted physically, emotionally, mentally. I feel as if I can't decrease my level of vigilance because, if I do, I might miss something...even though I don't know what that something is. When Max coughs, do I dismiss it as "just a cough" or is it a symptom of something more troublesome, something that could lead to another hospitalization, or take us down a path of no return? It's very different with my daughter, who was born full term and has, to date, been extremely healthy. I don't worry when she has a cough or a runny nose. I also don't worry about how much she eats, or what she eats. I trust her. I trust that she'll eat when she's hungry, drink when she's thirsty, and her immune system is strong enough to fight off whatever may come her way.
Ultimately, my obsessiveness is an attempt to have some control over the uncontrollable. Perhaps that is why I'm so tired...because I know that no matter how vigilant I am, I can not guarantee that my son will not get sick, that he won't have to struggle, that he won't continue to face the challenges that are the consequence of his extreme prematurity.