Checking to make sure your sleeping newborn is still breathing.
I had heard that this was something new parents did. I assumed it was an exaggeration: that really they just wanted to hear their baby’s breathing and feel their little chest rise and fall. The whole idea seemed cute and charming.
And then I had a baby.
And let me tell you: there is nothing cute about the very real panic that sets in when you gaze at your sleeping infant and decide they’re disturbingly still. After reading a seemingly endless supply of literature about SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) – from practical guides on what you should and shouldn’t do, to horror stories that haunt your dreams – combined with the sheer exhaustion of every new parent, your mind is primed to go to the darkest possible place.
Every time I got up I had to check. Some nights I popped up multiple times with the sole purpose of checking. Sometimes I made my husband get up and check. When my daughter learned to roll over onto her tummy, I didn’t sleep for a week.
I don’t remember when I stopped doing that all the time, but I’m glad that fear is (mostly) gone. It was not pleasant. Or charming.