|To J: You’re Gonna Rock Mommahood!!!|
A very good friend of mine is extremely pregnant and about ready to pop any day now. She called me at home and very clearly, was having some anxiety about her impending parenthood. She sounded more concerned about the concerns she was having; almost as if there was something wrong with her for having those concerns. Personally, when she was telling me all of this I felt relieved I wasn’t the only who was concerned about all of my concerns.
Here’s a brief background on me you need to know to understand why my mind works the way that it does. I used to be a death investigator; meaning, when somebody died and his/her death was unattended I would go to wherever he/she was and examine the scene. No CSI jokes, please! I hate CSI. HATE IT! HATE IT! HATE IT! Now that we’re clear on that I’ll continue. In the 2 1/2 years I worked as a death investigator I have seen more deaths and over all horrible things than anyone ever should. Included in those horrible things are the tragic deaths of infants. Most were accidental, a few were natural, and some were homicides. In order to deal with the stuff I saw I developed a very jaded, sick, twisted sense of humor (I don’t want anyone to think I’m cruel).
Now I’m a first time mother but with all the joy that comes along with my beautiful baby boy there is also fear and panic that I have to laugh off so I won’t go insane.
So here are some things I’ve actually done out of fear or concern for my child.
1. The baby monitor. It’s a fabulous device, especially if your house is more than one floor. The problem with my baby monitor is that it doesn’t have a video screen. At night we put our little man to sleep. Sometimes he’ll cry for 20 minutes or so before going to bed. Easy as pie. Then there are the nights where I’ll put him down, grab the monitor and come back downstairs. If I can’t hear him crying when I turn the monitor on, I panic.
Here’s a mental image for you:
I’m watching television – actually I’m in front of the television watching the baby monitor, waiting for my son to make any sound at all that signifies he’s alive and breathing. I can’t hear anything so I turn the monitor off and then back on just to make sure it was turned on to begin with. But there’s still no sound. So then I pick up the monitor, shake it, put it up against my ear and listen. Still nothing. I look at my husband, “He’s dead. He’s dead. I can’t hear him. Is this thing broken? What if some thing’s wrong.”
My husband, “He’s not dead. It’s not broken. Nothing’s wrong. Put the monitor down and watch television.”
Do I do that? (Head Shake) NO! Instead I shake the monitor, put it up against me ear, listen and if there is still no sound I repeat the process. Eventually I’ll hear my little man, sneeze, cough, burp, toot, poop or cry and then I can relax because I know he’s fine.
Someone out there might be thinking, “Why doesn’t she just go and get a baby monitor that has a camera?” That wouldn’t help. I’d spend the entire time obsessing about the image on the screen and totally freak myself out because I can’t see his chest rising and falling. Eventually I’d end up running up the stairs and into his room to poke him just to see if he’ll move. The monitor with the camera would do more harm than good. Just saying.
The second concern my friend had is what if she left her baby in the car and her baby died? My first suggestion was that she make a habit out of checking the back seat every time she gets out of her car.
Here’s how I deal with my baby and cars.
The first thing I do is put my baby in his car seat/carrier into the car. Then I shut the door. Except now I can’t see him so I open the door back up and pop my head in just to make sure he’s in the car seat and his face isn’t obstructed. Then I get into the car and away we go. Quickly, at a stop light, I’ll lift the hood of the carrier up so I can see his head in the car seat. I need to make sure that he didn’t escape out of his car seat, somehow leave the car and is sitting in the parking lot.
If I can’t see his head because it slumped over then I stop the car so I can lean over the seat to make sure he’s in it. I know they make special mirrors you can set up in your car for checking on your infant but that’s just a car accident waiting to happen. For that matter, so is my method (shoulder shrug).
When I get to wherever I’m going I take the baby, in his car seat/carrier out and shut the door. Then I peak through the windows to make sure he’s not still in the car. Then I check the carrier to make sure he’s in it. As I’m walking away, I turn around and go back to the car to make sure he’s not in the car even though I already know I’ve got him with me.
My friend then tells me that she’s terrified she’ll fall asleep while she’s nursing the baby in the middle of the night, and accidentally smother the baby into her breast. Sadly, there have been cases where this has happened. I told her that when I was nursing I had either my iPod or iPad with me and, to stay awake, I would read the news, check the weather, play games, surf Facebook, surf Pinterest, surf Facebook, surf Pinterest. If I had this blog while I was nursing then checking my page view stats would also be on this list. I also made up songs I would sing to my baby to help me stay awake.
If this fear is just too much, I suggested to my friend that instead of nursing in the middle of the night she should consider giving the baby a bottle and going back to bed. Giving a baby a bottle takes less time than nursing. Formula, breast milk, wine – whatever you want in the bottle. Well – not the wine. It would help the baby to sleep but I think there are laws about that.
Her last concern was leaving the baby alone with someone who is not her. What if the baby dies while under someone else’s care? Unfortunately this does happen. But what can she do? I would interview the babysitters, run background checks, check references, install nanny cams all over the house, plaster emergency numbers on every flat surface inside of the house and then when I leave, call home every 3 minutes and 26 seconds. It’ll drive the babysitter completely bonkers but I’ll feel better. (Good Lord! I’m going to be fun for my babysitter!) There are also apps you can buy that will allow you to access a nanny cam from a computer for a live feed.
Seeing as how my friend is deathly allergic to cats she doesn’t have the last concern that I have. I think everyone has heard the old wives tale about how cats suck the breath out of babies. I think everyone also knows that what actually happens is the cats smell the milk on babies and curl up on top of them, accidentally suffocating them. So as a general rule of thumb, in my house, cats are never allowed in the nursery. The last thing I want to deal with in the middle of the night is chasing a cat out from under a crib. At our current house we put our cats in the basement at night so I don’t have to worry about them. But, we’re getting ready to move to a house where there is no basement and also no way for us to confine the cats at night.
So here is the mental image I have:
It’s the middle of the night. I just fed/changed the baby and I’m in bed almost a sleep.
Did I shut the door? I think I shut the door? I don’t remember if I shut the door.
I get up out of bed and peak across the hallway. The door is shut. I get back in bed.
Is the door actually shut? Maybe it just looked shut.
I get back out of bed walk through the hallway and press on the door. Yep it’s shut. Back into bed I go.
Was the door shut when I was there with the baby? I think the door was shut. Was it? Shoot. What if there’s a cat in the room? Wait. Isn’t there a cat on the bed with us?
I sit up and look at the foot of the bed. Sure enough there is one cat there. But where is the other cat? Panic! Panic!
I get out of bed and go into the nursery, shutting the door behind me and pressing on it firmly to make sure it’s latched. Baby is in the crib. No cat. I get on my hands and knees and look under the crib and changing table. Nope. Still no cat. I use my hands to blindly feel my way around the closet. Nope, still no cat. I’ve now checked everywhere in the nursery I can think of. I leave the nursery, shutting the door behind me and pulling on it to make sure it’s latched. On my way back to bed I spy the missing cat on the other end of the hallway.
I get back into bed and just as I’m falling asleep, the baby will wake up and the whole thing will start all over again. Sigh. My poor husband. My obsessions are going to be the death of his sanity.
I’ve made the decision that all of these absurd thoughts are completely normal for a new mother to have, especially one with my background. Hopefully I’ll be a better parent for it. If not, my child will probably need a lot of therapy.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a monitor to shake, a cat to chase out of the nursery and even though my baby is laying on the floor right next to me, I think I’ll run out to the car one more time. 🙂