In the first few weeks after Jordan and I brought Jameson home from the hospital, we settled into parenting fairly smoothly, even as we both confessed we had little idea what we were truly doing.
More than feedings, changings, and soothing sessions, the real anxiety always seemed to set in when Jameson had gone to bed for the night. It was in those moments, when Jameson was fast asleep in his bassinet, and I was supposed to finally get some rest, that I would have vivid dreams of Jameson being in the bed with us and one of us rolling over on top of him.
I would wake in a panic. I would search the room with bleary eyes. I’d eventually see him sleeping peacefully where I’d left him — not in my bed. On occasion, I’d even wake up and shove Jordan, and in his deep sleep confusion, he’d move over and mumble, “My bad.” (Pitiful, I tell you.)
I’m told this kind of anxiety is fairly common for new parents. You dread you’re going to wake up and something horrible will have happened to your child, even though billions of babies before yours have managed to figure out sleeping without an issue. Add to it all the fancy gadgets and monitors, bearing price tags in the multiple hundreds of dollars range that prey upon this new-parent anxiety. It’s mostly irrational fear, but real nonetheless.
And then after a couple months, and as the baby learns to sleep for longer stretches, and your mind is less crazy because you’re actually getting more sleep too, I think the crazy dreams start to go away. Or at least in my case they did. I started to see how strong and smart and capable Jameson was (like I wrote about here), and while it’s not like he wasn’t still very dependent on us as his parents, perhaps I didn’t need worry about him quite so much.Fast forward to this past month — Jameson’s 11th month — and some of those anxious dreams have made a comeback. The other day in the middle of the night, after dreaming Jameson was in trouble, I wrapped my arm around Jordan and “rescued” him from falling off the bed. And yet, again, in his sleepy confusion, Jordan said, “Oh, thank you.” Ha!
Perhaps it’s the stress of life that’s getting to me, but I suspect it has more to do with seeing Jameson move around and thus all of the potential hazards he can get into. More scratches, more bumps, more scrapes.
As I sit here typing, I’m getting choked up thinking about how much I want to protect him. (Thank goodness for the extra brown paper napkin I grabbed at the check-out counter of this cafe.) And yet, I know that ultimately, there’s no way I can protect him from everything.
In these moments of feeling overwhelmed, I realize that nothing has challenged my trust in God like parenthood.
Ultimately, when I lay in bed after being jolted awake by another anxious dream, I stare at my ceiling and I ask God to help me be the mother Jameson needs, and at the same time, I tell God that I’ve placed my baby boy in His hands.
My frequently smiling, five-teeth having, hide-and-seeking, dancing/clapping, all kinds of food eating, constantly exploring, church childcare terrorizing, Peppa Pig loving, micro-napping, always vocalizing, favorite 11-month-old.
***Forgive us for Jameson’s boogie-nose. No matter how much we wiped (which would cause him to react like he was being waterboarded), there were always more on his face.
ArnebyaApril 6, 2016 at 1:31 pm
I wish I could say the anxiety disappears completely, but I haven’t found that it does (it just dissipates, then returns when I least want it). What helps me is calming breaths, lying still, reminding myself that there are things I cannot control. Our kids are 15, 12, and 6. I think I’m back at infant/toddler levels of anxiety, but mostly for the oldest. She’s the one who’s the most independent, the one who is sometimes just out of my grasp of protection: public transportation, hundreds of other kids at school, distracted drivers (I know you know the list can go on). I still go into their rooms sometimes because of a bad dream. I can still wake up if one of them takes two steps in the middle of the night, even just to use the restroom or retrieve water from a dresser. (“Church childcare terrorizing” made me snort because so many memories of our youngest being brought back to us mid-service.)
Jessica RiceApril 8, 2016 at 9:24 pm
I think in my heart I know that the anxious thoughts will always be there, and perhaps even greater as he grows — for all the reasons you mentioned. I couldn’t agree more with the method of deep breaths and stillness. Control is mostly an illusion anyway. And I’m glad to know there are others who can identify with their child being “challenging” at church! :-)