The fear of losing everything

I took Emerson to the doctor’s office this morning. She has a hemangioma on her tongue. Or, so they think. It showed up when she was about seven-months-old—a tiny black line that grew into a small, swollen black mass over the course of a few months. At the time, I wanted to know what it was, but felt comforted by the explanation: it’s a benign venous malformation, much like a birth mark, that will most likely shrink and go away. We had three doctors look at it. And that was that.

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But, one night a few weeks ago, I asked Emerson to stick out her tongue while brushing her teeth and the small mass looked slightly bigger. I had already been feeling increasingly nervous as the months passed and it hadn’t gone away. But now, it definitely looked a little bigger to me…the one thing the doctors told me to watch for. When I saw it, tears instantly began to fall from my eyes. I hugged my child, who looked at me bewildered, as I repeated the words “please let my child be okay! Please! PLEASE!”

That night I began to do some research, though I knew it wouldn’t alleviate my anxiety. That empty box at google.com waiting for you to fill it with all your worries and fears and question marks can be the worst place for a mama (or anyone, really) to find herself. But, there I was. I began to worry. I began to imagine the next step…an oral surgeon…a sedated biopsy….an operating room…and and and. AND…the worst feeling a parent can ever have: the fear of something being wrong with their precious child.

I decided to be proactive and made an appointment with a pediatric Ear, Nose, and throat surgeon. That’s what my google search told me to do. I felt slightly relieved. But, not really.

Today, we went to the pediatrician so he could assess the situation before I take Emerson to the specialist. Emerson was terrified, as she usually is in the doctor’s office. She clawed her way up my body, pleading with me “mama, no! mama, NO!” She sobbed in a way I have only heard exactly four times in her life. And this was just to LOOK at her tongue. Imagining any next steps felt incredibly daunting in that moment. In so many ways.

The pediatrician didn’t have anything new to offer, except some words that were very unlikely, but he had to say because it is his job to give me all the possibilities. Those words were “tumor” and “malignant.”

Of course, the mother in me could barely hear the words “very small likelihood,” as I held back a wave of tears. I smiled and tried to act as if I understood when the doctor said “don’t lose any sleep.”

On the way home, I did everything in my power to stay positive…and practical….and calm. But, there were too many visuals in my head. There was the memory of watching my husband’s cousin lose his first born child just two months ago. There was the knowledge that in creating this beautiful, amazing, gift-from-above being sitting in the back of my car, I am now vulnerable beyond measure. Because, from the day my child entered this world, I have experienced the greatest, most overwhelming kind of love I’ve ever known, but with that comes the fear of losing it all.

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