Wednesday, August 6, 2008

No warning

No one warns you about the real problem with parenting. They tell you about the diapers and the spitup and the crying. They even warn you about the dangers of grapes, electrical sockets and stairs. But what they don't tell you is the terror you can feel when you love something that much - so much you aren't sure if you will continue to exist if something horrible were to happen to them.

Tonight, it nearly did. I put Thea to bed as usual around 8 p.m. and she cried and cried. So I went up to check on her, and when I did, I fixed her bed a bit because the sheets were pulling up a little. I held her for a while, and put her back down, which made her really upset, so she hollered and hollered and I knew I just needed to let her work it out.

Then, somehow I heard the tempo turn just a bit.

So I went upstairs.

I walked in the room and she was completely covered.

The sheets and mattress pad had come up off the bottom and were wrapped tightly around her head.

She was drenched with sweat.


But still breathing.

We sat in the rocker, both trying to breath. Adrenalin rushed through me.

I nursed her.

Her eyes were wide for a long time, the first time I've seen her scared.

She finally fell asleep in my arms, but startled awake several times.

I spent about a half-hour remaking the bed, checking those sheets again and again. I laid her down in that crib, so beautiful, sleeping, and tried to pry myself away. It almost made me want to throw up, walking away.

But the thing is, that's not the end of it. It was just a lucky break - a moment of instinct that saved us both. Just as easily, I could have resolved to let her cry it out, and felt relief when she stopped..... and while I made it past this disaster, it just makes me more aware of the likelihood of more around the corner.

There is no way you can protect them from all that could hurt them. There are endless things - the wrong leaf they chew on in the lawn, a chunk of food just a bit too big, the rock under their fall. And if it isn't one of those, it could be the inner demons - the immune system that rejects milk products, like Thea's, or Liam's irrepressible fears that narrow his world.

And that is the most terrifying about this motherhood thing - loving something so much, and knowing your never-ending love sometimes isn't enough.

1 comment:

Anika said...

Our love is all we have to give. There are other things of course, things that we provide them with because we do love them... We love them and do the best we know how. We can expect no more of ourselves. Let your heart rest easy. Loving them IS enough.

A couple days ago Zephyr was playing in the kids' room and starting calling "Mama, help, mama..." in the kind of tone you use when there's a toy out of your reach and you don't want to pry yourself away from your other toys lest your little sister comes to claim them in your absence... So I take my time in going in to check it out. When I do appear, there is Zephyr on the top bunk, smiling to see me and doing fine, only very slightly annoyed that he has wrapped the cord from the blinds around his neck three times and can't get it off (I wrap it up out of the way each day and we've discussed it being a dangerous thing to play with, but now he can reach it from the top bunk and...) I feel your heart palpitations, Carey. The oh-my-god-nothing-went-wrong-and- I-know-that-but-holy-crap-NEVER- never-NEVER-please-let-that-happen- again-please palpitation. I always follow little hunches and instincts; don't even bother trying to justify them. The bond (and communication) between mother and babe is an incredible and surprising thing.