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I’m one of those women (mother now) who doesn’t use hand sanitizer or worry about germs while in public. I’m one of those women that doesn’t wash their kids’ hands every chance I get or wipe things down before letting Baby Boy touch or play. If it hasn’t been on a visibly nasty floor, then chances are I don’t really care if Baby Boy puts it in his mouth.
You might wonder why. The answer is simple really, though it may come as a shock to some. Some germs are good for you. This doesn’t mean that spreading one’s “nasty, sick” germs to others is the best thing to do. It simple means that, the body cannot learn to fight/stave off illness if the introduction of germs is limited or eliminated. (Ok, one can’t really eliminate germs, but you get my drift.) In other words, your body needs to know germs before it can fight germs. This is how immunity is built.
In fact, the body’s natural defenses and maturation of the immune system wouldn’t function properly without the introduction of germs. (Maybe I’ll post about the immune system’s maturation process one day…) So, no, I’m not worried about Baby Boy getting ill. I’m particularly unconcerned because we exclusively breastfeed, on demand. I have a pretty healthy immune system, which is good for Baby Boy. Simply speaking, when Baby Boy or I are in contact with germs, my body (with it’s healthy and mature immune system) recognizes those germs and fights against them, thereby improving my immunity which is then passed to Baby Boy, thereby Baby Boy is protected. Any germs Baby Boy is exposed to I pick up by touching, holding, and giving him kisses. Then, my body fights those too. End of story.
To that end, I do want to discuss my fear of illness. See, so I’m not a “germaphobe”. Germs don’t scare me.
In the past, I’ve called myself “something of a hypochondriac”. I’d go to the doctor religiously every year and have all the tests run. I did this not because quite honestly, I was afraid something would be wrong and I wouldn’t know it. I occasionally walked around thinking that something might be wrong, although there was no actual indication of any illness. And for the record, I very rarely get even a cold. I have turned a simple cold or headache into a catastrophe at times, while completely ignoring them at others. (Yes, strange, I know.)
To explain, part of all that catastrophizing came from not having any definitive or trustworthy knowledge of family diseases that I may be susceptible to. Part of it came from a strong perseverance of belief that I wouldn’t be cared for. I completely relied on myself for all things, not trusting that even my family would rally around me as they did others. Part of the catastrophizing came from my own anxiety. It’s a (mostly) low-scale anxiety, but there nonetheless.
Somewhere along the way during pregnancy, all the confidence and trust and faith I gained in my body in order to grow and birth a child, I stopped being so concerned about being sick without knowing it. I also have so much more confidence, faith, and trust in my (mostly healthy) eating habits and as my knowledge of natural, holistic remedies increases, so does my confidence.
But, despite all that, I’m still afraid of illness. Not germs, just illness. I’m not even scared of things like whooping cough, chicken pox, or any other such illness that some think is just awfully terrible. I’m afraid of a simple cold or maybe the flu entering our home. It also has nothing to do with Baby Boy’s age. I have no desire to be ill. None at all. I don’t think I could handle it. I mean, I know I can, I have some knowledge and there are plenty of resources. I mean that I mentally can’t really handle illness. I do.not do well with illness. Illness puts me d-o-w-n. I mean, down like can’t move, can’t focus, can’t operate the home. So, if I’m really really really truthful, I’m afraid of being ill because illness immobilizes me – it just does.
I become this whiny, bratty, uncomfortable, displeased, upset, sad, barely move or do anything person. My expectations with myself go through the roof with thoughts akin to being able to run a marathon (never mind I’ve never actually done so). Therefore, me being ill is not a good thing. It’s not good for my mental health, it’s not good for Baby Boy to have a completely lethargic mother all day. It’s just not a good thing.
So what sparked all this. Hun came home and didn’t feel well. Immediately my mind started racing, wondering what kind of sick he had and what needed to happen so he would get well and I wouldn’t get ill. I grilled him on whether anyone at work had been sick in the last two weeks, what his symptoms were, what he thought of not feeling well. Then I launched into a few options to help him feel better (and hopefully stave off further illness). Meanwhile, my anxiety was kicking in. My mind starts racing. My heart does that extra little pitter I quietly, anxiously await the signs of improvement or decline.
So, here’s to crossed fingers….