A few weeks ago, I packed a small carry-on for the three of us and we went on a short, unplanned trip to visit relatives. Since then, life has been a whirlwind of emotions, busy schedules, big changes, usual life stresses, and a few ‘not so usual’ stresses thrown in there too. Physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, my husband and I have just stepped around that carry-on, leaving it where it had dropped the day we got home. It didn’t get fully unpacked until last night. Other than cluttering up a relatively compact living space, it was relatively inconsequential.
There is, however, one very significant item that stayed unused in that bag.
The baby monitor.
Otherwise known as my security blanket.
When I brought my baby home I was sure she was going to die if I didn’t stay up all night watching her breathe. I was thankful for her little floppy windpipe, rattling with each little breath. It saved me from having to lean over her in the middle of the night to make sure she was okay.
When she was napping, I carried the monitor from room to room, petrified I might miss her crying and leave her on her own for a moment too long. I learned what the flicker of the monitor lights meant so if I had to, I could judge between idle chat and a cry of distress without hearing the slightest peep. I spent every waking moment watching her and connecting each movement, each reaction, with the sounds she made. By the time she began to spend nights in her own room, I knew every normal shuffle and shift. I didn’t need to get up and check on her unless a new sound came out of the speaker.
So as a small part of her independence began, she had no idea that I never slept soundly, afraid I might miss something if I drifted off too deeply. The monitor was permanently turned up to eleven so I wouldn’t miss a sound. It took me over a year before I could confidently take a shower as she napped without having to periodically open the shower door to watch the monitor’s lights flicker.
My little lady was over a year old when I somehow managed to drop
my security blanket the monitor into the glass of water on my
bedside table. It was just the perfect
dimensions – small enough to fit in but large enough so wrapping my fingers
around it was nearly impossible. It bobbed up and down as I desperately tried
to fish it out. When I finally did rescue
it, it wouldn’t turn on. I took it as a sign that perhaps I should let go and
realize she’d be fine in another room without something amplifying and
broadcasting her every sound to me. I
didn’t sleep at all that night, laying there and listening for a muffled cry
that I might miss or a cough that hadn’t been detected. I tried the monitor again the following night
and it worked so on it went.
My daughter was almost 18 months when we travelled to Canada. I felt pathetic for having to ask if I could borrow one. It seemed even more ridiculous that I might get an adapter and add yet another thing to our stuffed luggage just to quell this ongoing irrational anxiety. I was fed up with feeling like a slave to this stupid little speaker anyway. My daughter is strong, has a set of lungs on her, and knows how to call for us from another room. I managed the week without it and vowed to unplug the monitor when we returned home.
I couldn’t do it.
The thought of it made me physically sick. Pathetic as I knew it was, I continued to turn the monitor on when she wasn’t in the room with me. (Yes, sometimes even when she was playing in her room on her own)
When I come up against any of my triggers (homesickness, money worries, and grief are my big three), more often than not it manifests itself as anxiety. This translates into a horrendous sense of foreboding and a feeling of almost certainty that tremendous harm or even death is lurking just around the corner for my little girl. My desire to keep her in my clutches at all times contradicts my biggest desire of keeping her confident and independent so I do everything in my power to remind myself that it’s the depression talking and she will be okay.
Sometimes the ppd demons win. When they do, I give my daughter extra cuddles, which she usually tries to squirm away from to get back to playing. That’s okay with me. It’s kind of the way I want it.
I’ve had a tough few weeks and anxiety has reared its ugly head on more than one occasion.
In the midst of it all, the monitor stayed packed away, I’ve managed to sleep at night....and I’ve been there each and every time my little girl has cried out for me as well.
It’s all about the baby steps, and frankly this is practically a leap in my book.
Good night my baby. I’ll hear you if you need me.