The Fear: It Continues

I am not surprised by this. That is, by the fear. By its failure to cease.

I have been here before, after all. I have prayed in desperation for a child, I have believed that child may never come to be, I have worried through nine months of pregnancy when she did finally come into being, and I have fretted over her health and safety in the early months of her life. So I am not surprised that I am here again, afraid that Skittle may be gone at any moment, but it still leaves me exhausted, wishing I had a different way of handling things.

The fears now are different, of course. I don’t have to count fetal kicks every hour. I don’t worry about cord accidents and placental abruptions. I don’t envision every way the delivery of a baby can go wrong. Instead, I mostly obsess over SIDS — the silent, unpredictable killer of healthy babies. I worry that Skittle will stop breathing while she’s sleeping and so am I. Or that I’ll turn my back and won’t notice that her chest has stopped moving. I worry that I’ll always be too late in coming to her rescue.

To combat my fears, I have done my research. Of course, Skittle sleeps on her back. In a bassinet next to our bed. With a fan blowing, no matter how cold it is outside. We don’t overheat the bedroom and, as soon as breastfeeding is well-established, we will offer a pacifier. I know that I am doing all I can to avoid SIDS, making use of every tool that even has the slightest link to SIDS prevention. But it’s still not enough to keep the anxiety at bay. I still worry.

And sometimes, I still panic too. Like when Skittle was asleep in the bassinet the other night while I was getting ready for bed and pumping my milk and suddenly I was overwhelmed with a fear that she had stopped breathing while in the bedroom alone. I had to stop mid-pump to go check on her. And a week ago, she she seemed to be gasping for breath in her sleep just for a few quick seconds and, once I knew she was okay, I couldn’t quit crying because I realized how vulnerable she still is. And just last night, I had to shake her awake because I couldn’t feel her breathing through her swaddle.

Most of the time I’m okay, but sometimes it can get very, very bad.

And this is just the beginning. I know from my obsessive research that the greatest risk of SIDS is between 2-4 months and so I know with certainty that my fear and anxiety will peak at that time. After six months, the risk becomes negligible and so will become my level of worry. That’s the good news…there is an end to this daily rise and fall of fear. As a mother, I will always worry about my children, but once Skittle reaches the age of six months, I need not be constantly afraid that she might die at any given moment.

The other good news: I don’t have to wonder every second of every day. There’s no hoping that and worrying whether Skittle is okay. All I have to do is look at her, touch her, hear her rhythmic breathing to know she is. That makes this kind of fear a bit less painful.

And I know these days will pass fast, and I don’t want to wish them away because Skittle will never be this small again. I love and cherish her tinyness, her curled newborn body, the simplicity of her needs…but I do look forward to that day, down the road, when I can breath a little easier again and won’t be consumed by this fear every damn day.

Ahhhh, can you even imagine that a day such as that can exist?

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16 thoughts on “The Fear: It Continues

  1. Thank you for sharing. I’m 30 weeks and going to be a first time mom. I never even thought of this until you said it which I’m glad you did. After reading your blog I looked up if there was some type of SIDS monitors out there which I came upon this website http://www.fastcodesign.com/3017180/the-owlet-baby-monitor-wearable-tech-for-infants. There is a monitor that is worn like a sock that dects and monitors heart rate, temperture, sleep habits etc. I plan on getting something like this so I won’t worry as much which I know I will. Thank you for sharing and bringing this to light. Maybe this could work for you too? Congratulations to you and your family!

  2. I feel like this post will describe how I’ll feel once my baby has arrived. Although knowledge is power, sometimes I feel like knowing all the risks out there just fuels my worry. Of course I’d rather be proactive and do everything I can, but knowing there are no guarantees and, for some things, there are conflicting data or a lack of checks and balances in place to ensure safety is terrifying. I hope that you’re able to quickly obtain the reassurance you need in moments of panic and that the panic does subside, likely with time as you said. As long as the panic doesn’t interfere with your ability to cherish the moments with Skittle, I think it’s pretty normal and healthy, especially after everything you’ve been through.

    • Thank you for your support, friend. I believe knowledge is power, too, but I also believe there’s some truth in the saying, “ignorance is bliss.” In this community, we have a tendency to know too much and it only feeds the fear. But I know you and everyone else in this community totally get that when no one else does!

      • I completely agree about “ignorance is bliss” in some instances as well. Infertility definitely makes an impact on our experiences of pregnancy (and motherhood although I’m not there yet). I find my job does as well since I’m a school and applied child psychologist. A friend/former coworker and I talked about all the additional worries we have because we specialize in developmental issues and sometimes it’s hard to remember that most people develop typically.

  3. Oh honey, this is exactly how I feel/felt. You’re not alone in this. The fear is slowly diminishing as the days go by but if there was a product on the market to reduce/alert me of sids we probably have it in our house. Just know that you’re doing everything right as the wonderful mom you are. *hugs to you and your little family*

  4. I know how you feel. I too am a terrible worrier and have been for years. I first worried about SIDS when my firstborn came home ten years ago. I even bought a monitor alarm for her crib that went under her mattress and sensed her breathing movements (Angel Sounds was the brand, I believe). I also wrapped the crib mattress (I ordered the Babesafe mattress cover from New Zealand). With my other babies, I never used the breathing monitor, but I’ve wrapped ALL of their crib mattresses (big crib, porta crib, co-sleeper). I felt better when they turned 6 months too. Then my second born was diagnosed with cancer, and even the treatment (a bone marrow transplant) came with its own risk of death. The next year she was diagnosed with a frequently fatal kidney disease (which thankfully turned out to be a reversible side effect of one of her immunosuppressant drugs). I was terrified, constantly terrified, and also felt very deeply that my innocence had been lost because then I knew that lightning could strike me . . . at ANY point. It didn’t matter how old my children got. Birth no longer calmed me. The safe window from SIDS no longer calmed me. My children (and I) were sitting ducks. That’s how I felt (actually, that’s how I still feel sometimes). I struggle with this monthly, if not weekly or daily. I say this not to scare you but to share what I’ve learned. I learned that my lack of fear could not depend on passing some “safe point” because there really is no safe point (I personally know four mothers who each lost a son in his 20s). My fearlessness has to come from holding on to God and knowing that He will be with me no matter what happens (just like He was when I DID lose four of my babies in the womb). He loves Skittle even more than you do–hold onto that….

  5. I have a feeling I will be exactly the same way. I hope the fear and worry gradually fade into the background (I know it won’t completely go away) so you can enjoy every moment with both your daughters!

  6. Ohhh I totally get this. SIDS terrifies me. I think it’s the unpredictability, the uncontrollability of it. So absolutely terrifying. I wish I had words of advice, but I don’t…I haven’t been there yet and know when I am I will probably feel the same way. But, I do think it’s good what you said that, even though you are looking forward to 6 months, you don’t want to rush it. That is a good outlook to have.

  7. I think your fears are justified. All mom’s worry, but we have a little more reason for nerves based on our history. Just do what you can in regards to prevention (it sounds like you already do) and if you need the reassurance look into a monitor, perhaps the one that goes underneath the baby. I know others that use them and it seems to reassure.

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