The hypervigilant mumma – will I ever switch off?


So we’ve been a bit ill again.

Jake’s been the worst hit this autumn. Normally a very healthy child, he’s had a chest infection, sickness and now another cold virus that has brought him out in itchy hives.

On Saturday, I was home alone with Jake and Naomi. Daddy and Joe were at the football, and Jen had gone to a friend’s house. I was making a good dent into clearing up, as we have moved Naomi into her own bedroom, and I then needed to change Jake. As I was doing so I noticed raised red spots all over his legs which he wanted to scratch. I was quite alarmed as it’s most unlike him and he’d been eating well all day.

I undressed him and found more of these strange red marks on his arms. Worried, I phoned 111 and within half an hour I was talking to the consultant on the phone. With Jake not having any worrying symptoms other than this itchy rash, she was happy that he didn’t need to be seen and said it was likely viral or a reaction to something he’d eaten. As he had had another cold, I put it down to that. It was what is called ‘nettle rash‘.

Thankfully my sister lives close by so she was able to pop out and get me some Piriton and Calamine lotion. And, once dosed up, the rash started to look less angry.

I phoned Daddy at the football game. While I didn’t want to disturb him, I knew that he’d want to know this had happened. He was understandably worried but I reassured him that I was keeping a close eye on Jake, who was watching all the telly and eating all the chocolate at this stage!

As I sat there, I considered the state of hypervigilance we are living in. With young children, it’s natural to be anxious – it’s how we survive, but our personal anxiety runs much deeper now. I am so close connected to them that I almost feel everything they do, trying to absorb their pain or unhappiness. We are ready to act in an instant, we never switch off and we are always on guard. That’s not including the times when they get ill, when it goes into overdrive! Sometimes I feel like I might collapse with anxiety.

It is exhausting – physically and mentally.

Naomi is six months old now. I’ve stopped breastfeeding and she is sleeping through. I, however, have problems with sleep. The anti-anxiety medication I’m on causes insomnia, ironically, and my anxiety also causes insomnia and palpitations – all night. I wake often, even with the baby asleep next to me.

I’m on high alert. Even when my body is calm my mind is running with all kinds of thoughts. I believe that sleep deprivation is impacting my overall health so before I go to the GP and ask for more drugs, I thought I’d move Naomi to see if that helps.
I suppose I have another fifteen years at least before there’s any let up from the worry! Perhaps longer. Will it be the case that when they have all left home I can finally switch off the ‘always on’ switch? That, yes, I’ll always worry about them but not in this ‘I must save them’ emergency state?

I may not last that long!

Don’t get me wrong. Having children of all ages is fab and really gives me a reason to get up in the morning (does it ever!), but I wish that the buzzing in my body and brain would just turn down enough for me to chill out and live.

In the meantime, I’m trying hard to look after myself more now, with reading and eating healthily and gentle exercise. Hopefully, sleep will follow.

I’ve linked this post up with the lovely Farmer’s Wife and Mummy and Maternity Mondays. Why not visit her blog to find out what other new mummies are sharing?


Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs

8 thoughts on “The hypervigilant mumma – will I ever switch off?

  1. Oh my goodness! It must be so hard living your life in this way. I know that having small children is worrying enough and I recognise some of what you’re saying – particularly when they’re ill, but it’s understandable that it is much bigger and more scary for you.
    I hope you get the balance right and find a way to sleep more and relax more as the children grow up. x

  2. So true! Have you ever noticed an “ouchie” on your child and then looked for it on your own body later? It’s like we’re the same person sometimes…but I’m told this stage also passes and as they become stronger and older at least some of the worry wears off. Wishing you time to rest! #mmbc

  3. I am glad that you posted this, I feel exactly the same so much so that I feel anxious a lot of the time and I get a feeling of dread when one of my 3 mentions a pain, or has a runny nose that they are going to be ill again and I can do little except comfort them. I certainly never switch off and hope as they get older I will be able too. Thank you for linking with #Maternitymondays

  4. Hi Kelly, I am sure that heightened sense of vigilance is normal for all parents and probably even more so having lost a child like you have. I know I felt on alert all the time when my two were little and would wake up at the slightest sound, it’s almost like being tuned into them. I am sure that as your brood gets older you’ll be able to tune out that bit more. Continue looking after yourself and I am sure it will pay off soon.

    Thank you for linking up to the #MMBC.


  5. It is so true, as parents I don’t think we ever really switch off. I for one am always on alert with my two, even when I don’t really need to be.
    Try to look after you a little! And hopefully the rest will follow 🙂

    Thanks so much for joining in with #MMBC. Hope you can make it next week too xx

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