I’m fighting a sinus infection that started yesterday afternoon and hit me hard and fast. So when my 13 month old son slept in until 8 am this morning, you’d think I’d be grateful-and I am!-but my first response was fear. I was able to laugh at myself an hour after he woke up as I got dressed for the day, because my imagination is seriously nuts, but then I wondered if my blowing things out of proportion when it came to my child’s health and well being is all that unusual.
The thing is, the unknown is scary without a doubt. But when you’re a parent, it’s the unlikely that rules your every paranoia because it HAS actually happened before so it COULD happen again. Everywhere you look there is a possible freak accident waiting to lay claim to your child. It’s no wonder parents can be a little uptight at times.
Last night Cade did his usual moan and groan schtick around 11pm, and then started in with some cute giggles and flopping around at 415am. 415! Waaaaaayyy too early. I looked at the monitor with my head full of snot and my throat aching and watched as he did baby yoga all over the crib. He stood up once, and then promptly laid back down. He seemed happy, so I didn’t get up, contemplating how long I should wait to get him and if I should try to rock him back to sleep (it never works, but I still try) and then, miraculously, he fell back asleep. Yeeesssssssssss. I thought to myself. This’ll at least buy me another hour before I have to get up! That’s how long Cade usually stays asleep IF he manages to pass out again after an early morning giggle fest. I was hopeful. I was achy and full of snot. I fell asleep, too. I woke up briefly when my husband’s PT alarm went off to tell him to be extra quiet since Cade woke up at 4 and I’m hoping to get a few more minutes of sleep. (Silly warning, Brian is always quiet, he sneaks up on me all the time without meaning to, but hey, I was out of it.)
I woke up to the *tink, clink* of metal spoon against a cereal bowl. It took me a few seconds to place it, because I was stuffy and gross feeling and because I had never been woken up by that sound in the morning before. Who’s eating cereal? BRIAN? It must be after PT. This thought was immediately followed by I haven’t heard Cade make a sound!
Ensue full blown panic as I grope for the monitor (wondering if Cade has been kidnapped and if we’ll get a ransom note and how much it’d ask for) and blind myself mashing down on the video button and peer blearily (without my glasses) at the fuzzy outline of my son sprawled out in the crib. My brain is not making any sense at this point, I’m imagining all sorts of improbable situations (he choked on his own snot, he had a seizure and went into a coma, he developed cancer and I didn’t notice, he had an allergic reaction to ant bites and his throat swelled shut, he suffered from Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood…) while straining my eyes to see if I can see his chest rise and fall and giving myself a massive headache because I’m peering at a bright monitor screen without my glasses and without giving my eyes time to adjust AND with sinuses packed full of snot.
I managed to stumble out of bed and go to the study where Brian was rapidly polishing off his fruitloops,and I’m sure I looked pretty disheveled and pathetic in my pajamas clutching the monitor and honestly bewildered, but thank goodness it takes a lot to fluster him. “Cade’s still sleeping….?” I’m not sure if I’m making a statement or asking a question. “I noticed.” Is Brian’s true to form, slightly dry reply. “Are you having Ramen or peanut butter and jelly for lunch?” “Um, I think I’ll do PB&J” he responded readily, yanking on ACU pants. Wait, why am I talking about sandwiches? “I need to go make them.” I replied in surprise, brain still not functioning. “I’m going to check on Cade first.” I stumbled out of the room, still clutching the monitor, remembering I had to put the monitor down so it didn’t shriek if it got too close to the camera, then finally I crept into my son’s room with my phone screen on but pressed against my pants leg.
He looks still, very still. And he’s not snoring or breathing heavy enough to hear. I put a hand lightly on his back and his chest rises and falls. He is breathing. He’s alive. He’s fine. I was just overreacting. I creep out hastily, now unsure of whether I should wake him up or let him sleep. He’s completely off schedule. I go back to the study to tell Brian he’s all cute and snuggled around his blanket. Brian just raises an eyebrow at me and says, “It’s time for pillows.” I leave to finally go make the sandwiches but in the hallway doubt assails me again and I have to double check on Cade. Maybe I didn’t REALLY feel him breathe. Maybe I just really hoped he was. Or maybe, the irrational part of my brain was fully awake and ticking away, maybe he stopped breathing from the time you checked on him till now.
So I checked again. And he was still breathing.
I make it to the kitchen and am adding peanut butter to the last slice of bread when I hear a sleepy grumble over the monitor. Up until that moment I didn’t realize how STILL anxious I was about Cade. When Brian scooped him up and brought him into the living room I scrutinized my now awake child for any signs or symptoms of illness, not paying much attention to the jelly I was splattering all over the sandwiches (sorry, Brian). Cade was fine. Quickly occupied munching on cereal while Brian continued his fast paced routine between PT and Class to get out the door on time. I still felt awful, but I was really happy. It wasn’t until an hour later I was truly able to relax (I kept watching Cade for anything out of the ordinary) but Cade was the most content in the morning that I’ve seen him in a long time. I was able to eat my breakfast in peace, do some dishes, start some laundry, and Cade barely fussed-playing by himself for 20-30 minute stretches at a time.
I am now able to appreciate the few extra hours of sleep-especially in light of being sick-but my first response was an overactive imagination running amok with as many unlikely scenarios as it could come up with before the rational part of my brain even had a chance to put up a decent defense. Motherhood, you guys, does weird things to your mind.
**Side Note: Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood occurs in 1.3 per 100,000 children, which is even more rare than SIDS (57 deaths per 100,000 births). But when it’s your child, I very much doubt the statistics offer any comfort-which is why I think parents tend towards paranoia.