When I was in high school, college, maybe even beyond–I wasn’t sure I’d ever want to be married or have children. I had big, fancy, career-driven plans and I viewed anything and everyone that could possibly hinder them with suspicion. Fast forward enough years that I don’t want to actually tell anyone how many–and here I am a SAHM to a toddler, moving around the country in support of my husband’s Naval career. We’d been married a couple of years when talk turned to babies. We quickly found out that, due to a recently diagnosed chronic illness, we would be part of the #1In8 who faced the challenges associated with infertility.
Once again, I couldn’t see myself having a baby–although this time for very different reasons.
After lots of pills, shots, doctor’s visits and, most of all–TIME, I was pregnant with Mac. Still, I was High Risk and scared of getting ahead of myself. I was so convinced it wasn’t in the cards for me to deliver that we didn’t tell anyone his gender, or name; I wouldn’t even let myself buy him anything until after the viability date. When my Doctor recognized the signs of early labor at seven months and I was put on bed rest, I just took it as further confirmation that It Ain’t Gonna Happen.
Of course, it did. And now I’m a proud #BoyMom to a smart, funny, handsome 16-month-old with the quickest smile you’ve seen in your life. Who I still obsessively worry about Every. Single. Damn. Night. Starting at 6:30pm (when my husband is giving him his bath, and I’m getting his “sleep stuff” ready for that oh-my-god-it’s-finally-here-crack-open-the-wine 7pm bedtime) until my crying, bouncing, human alarm clock goes off 11 hours later. I am obsessing over whether he’s still breathing in his crib.
At almost a year and a half of age, he’s still zipped into a sleep sack nightly–no cuddly blankets or sweet stuffed animals in this boy’s crib. I continue to watch his every move on the video monitor, unconsciously waking myself up to go in and physically check on him when he goes more than three hours or so without stirring (although that last little bit of crazy doesn’t happen as often as you’d think- he’s a terrible sleeper, much like his Mama, so we usually don’t have more than one of these nights a week).
In fact, just about the only concession I’ve made to my paralyzing fear of SIDS–now considered SUDC, as Mac is over one, was to finally abandon his Snuza at fourteen months, after my husband sent me more than a few hint-hint emails about his risk of SIDS having decreased around eight months prior (not that I didn’t know my stats–part of me just still refused to believe I was going to be lucky enough get to “keep” this baby). Also, because fourteen-month-old babies have a nasty habit of removing their own Snuzas, leading to false alarms almost as terrifying as the real deal. (A Snuza is a portable breathing alarm that attaches to a baby’s diaper, by the way, in case you’re not up on your crazy…)
My family thinks I’m nuts. My husband, my mother, my sister–a good portion of my friends–think I am totally bat-you-know-what crazy for treating my healthy, medically-sound toddler this way. For still being up at night, all these months later, anxiety through the roof because the kid rolled onto his stomach, hand over his face.
My family also wasn’t here for the first five months of my son’s life (Husband included; he was deployed). I was alone in Jacksonville with a newborn who was so small, so scary, and solely my responsibility. Meaning that, if anything should happen to him, IT WAS MY FAULT. During the day, I could stay awake. I could stare at him from 7:30am until 7pm and know he was okay, safe on my watch. Nighttime, though, that was another story.
At first, I kept Baby Dubs swaddled in his Rock N Play, just an arm’s reach from my bed. I woke up obsessively to be sure the swaddle hadn’t come loose around his face, that he hadn’t somehow twisted his smushy little face into the padded sides. So we switched to a Snuggle Nest, which allowed him to sleep right ON the bed, beside his paranoid mother. I woke up obsessively to be sure he wasn’t close to being pushed off the bed’s side, or under me–or that he hadn’t somehow twisted his smushy little face into the padded sides of this contraption, either. Basically, it’s a miracle the kid ever got moved to his crib, anyway–Snuza, video monitor, Angel Care monitor and all–and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wait for Derek to be back stateside to do it. Like I said, if anything happened in the meantime, IT WAS MY FAULT.
Now, we have another baby on the way–and I’m not even through worrying about the one I already tuck in at night. Will I be a paranoid wreck, again? Yes. Will I still lose sleep? Absolutely. Do I fully realize that I’m maaaaybe just the tiniest bit ridiculous, how low our odds are for tragedy to strike, and how to reduce what risks ARE there? Yep. So, Family and Friends, you can continue to think I’m nuts for another two years, or so, while I take care of my Tinys the best way I know how.