Currently, Madeline is asleep in her own room. In her own bed.
I realize that she is three, and that for most this seems like this should be an obvious statement of facts. However, this is the first time this has ever happened. I have mentioned before that we co-sleep with Madeline.
Now that she is three, I know that she really should start sleeping in her own bed. At least occasionally. That said, I’m still not sure I’m ready for that. My anxiety is high. I’m finding myself staring at the monitor even as I’m typing this. I’m watching. I’m resisting the urge to run in and either crawl into bed next her, or just pick her up and bring her back out her with me to cuddle up where I can hold her and constantly reassure myself that she is breathing.
I know that she is fine.
My rationale mind knows this.
It’s just there is this crazy, anxiety-ridden part of my brain that keeps telling me that I need to check that she’s still breathing every 30 seconds.
And I wonder why I’ve been exhausted for the last 4 years. I basically haven’t slept since I was pregnant the first time around.
She is fine. I keep staring at the monitor and telling myself this. The volume is turned all the way up. I’m just staring now. I can see the rise and fall of her chest as she breathes. This reassures me.
She looks so tiny in her big girl bed.
I know I will still go and get her before the night is over. She won’t stay in there all night.
I’m not ready for that.
Not just yet.
The news scares me. Legit, straight up terrifies me. I can remember being a small kid and seeing the nightly news and hearing about the scary things and asking my mom if we could get an alarm for our house because I thought that would make me feel safer. So basically this is nothing new. But now, since having a child, since knowing the reality that is losing a child, the nightly news is nothing but a horror show full of terrifying images of things that could happen to my daughter, to my husband, to my family, and I don’t know how to stop the crazy anxious fear that seems to overtake my mind when I hear or read about what is happening in our world.
Don’t watch the news you say. Sure. This would seem like the logical thing to do. Except I would also have to avoid all forms of media and most social interactions with people because at some point I’m going to hear about the awful, terrible, horrible, no good thing that has happened and my mind is going to spiral into the anxiety ridden fearful place that shouts, “this could happen to you.”
When you watch the bottom drop out of your world, you quickly realize that all of those seemingly irrational fears aren’t really all that irrational anymore. Those things that seem to have small odds really CAN happen to you. You start worrying about lightening striking twice and you find yourself checking that your daughter is breathing fifty times every night and having a panic attack when you think you feel her skip a breath.
Anxiety really can mess with a person’s head.
My anxiety is watching the news story about a little toddler who went to a carnival in a nearby town and was electrocuted after she touched a fence while standing outside of a bounce house. Then having a panic attack when you realize that the same group is putting together the local carnival that you planned to take your daughter too and swearing to your husband that your child will not go anywhere near the carnival area because you are too afraid of what could happen.
My anxiety is reading the story of a bombing at a concert of a pop star and wondering if it is safe to ever go to a concert, or the mall, or the airport, or school, or the bank, or really anywhere anymore.
Anxiety and fear seem to be best friends in my head. They play so nicely together, but always against me.
I always wonder if my “crazy” fears are normal mom worries or if they are over amplified because of everything we went through to get to this place. I wonder if losing Joshua has made my fears of losing Madeline that much bigger or if my anxiety would have always been this intense.
Anxiety has been my constant companion for as long as I can remember, fear following not far behind. I worry that at times the intense fear and overwhelming anxiety I feel when it comes to Madeline might do more harm than good.
Madeline started sleeping through the night very early on. She’s always been a good sleeper. I however haven’t slept through the night in years. I wake up in a panic almost nightly, having to rest my hand on her chest or tummy to assure myself that she in fact still breathing. She is three. I’m aware that this is not normal behavior. When we go to the park I am that mom that stays close. My eyes never stray from her. I am almost always within an arms reach. I watch her play, but I am always right there – in case she needs me, in case she falls, in case someone with ill-intentions is watching. I am always right there. My anxiety, the little voice inside my head running through all of the possible worst case senarios won’t let me go anywhere else. I can’t sit on the park bench and relax with the other moms and watch from a distance. My anxious mind won’t allow it.
I wish I had the magic answer here. The solution that would calm my fears, stop the anxiety, and make the constant worrying cease. But I don’t. I’m not sure that I’ll ever stop worrying about Madeline this intensely. I’m not sure the panic attacks and nightmares will ever fully stop. Right now I’ll just keep breathing through them. I’ll keep trying to remind myself that we are doing everything we can to keep her safe and happy and that is all we can do. I will try to remember to pray a little more and worry a little less, and I’ll hope that in time the anxiety won’t feel so suffocating and the fear won’t feel so much like drowning.
Somedays are so blissfully happy that to anyone looking in you wouldn’t see that there was anything (anyone) missing.
Somedays I wake up in the middle of the night completely panicked that something is wrong.
Somedays the anxiety and fear is so much that I can barely breathe.
Somedays I can hold it all together.
Then somedays, like yesterday, I see someone who I haven’t seen in over a year, and they ask me Josh is doing…not knowing that we never were able to bring him home with us. I was 7 months pregnant with our first baby the last time he had been in the office. He had no way of knowing what had happened to Josh. He had no way of knowing that his sweet gesture of remembering my son’s name would cause the tears to form in my eyes.
Those days, like yesterday, are a punch in the gut. They knock the breath right out of me and bring me to a mess of tears.
Somedays are better than others.