In a matter of weeks, my daughter will have her very first birthday. It’s mind boggling. The newborn we brought home nearly a year ago has grown into a near-toddler who stands on her own, has a very distinctive (and amazing) personality, loves to laugh and makes me unbelievably happy. She’s really and truly become a kid. A little girl. I look at her sometimes and see the girl she will surely become, and I can imagine her debating me on all sorts of issues small and large. I can imagine her heading off to school–and God help me, I can imagine her dating.
So here’s the thing I struggle with. When will I ever stop worrying about whether she’s breathing? From the first night she was in our lives, I probably checked to see if she was alive once every half hour. Probably more. And things didn’t get much more relaxed once we took her home. She had an elaborate and amazing nursery with the finest furniture and decorations, a baby monitor focused on the crib transmitting audio and video to our bedroom, and yet we spent weeks (I’m going to say weeks because months sounds bad) with our newborn sleeping directly next to the bed in the bassinet option that came with our stroller.
Why? So we could wake up, put a hand on her chest and know she was okay. And I did that a lot.
But it’s nearly a year now, and while I don’t wake up every half hour, I do have the impulse. I have mastered the art of looking across a room at my sleeping daughter–and like a lion looking for a subtle shift in a blade of grass indicating the presence of prey–I look for the slightest rise and fall of her footie pajamas. Fortunately for us, this kid sleeps like a crazy person (or, as my wife might say, like me) and she moves around a lot. She’ll roll over, sit up, fall forward, grab a blanket, spin herself into it and then fall silent. And half the time I can’t resist the urge to get out of bed, go to her crib and, you know, just check.
The hand on the chest is the most reassuring feeling. My wife will often simply say, “she’s breathing? You checked?”
When our daughter had her first cold, I felt somewhat guilty for feeling relaxed and calmed by her snotty breathing. Every breath was audible, and every breath kept her mildly (fine–massively) worrying Dad from making too many trips to check on her. But of course, then I’d sit in bed in the middle of the night and wonder if she was breathing clearly. Should I get that snot sucker device? Do I wake her to try and clear her nose? Didn’t they say never wake a baby? But what if she’s having trouble breathing?
And it all comes back to that. Is she breathing?
So Dads and Moms, just give it to me straight: does this obsession ever lift? Or do you just get a lot more clever and subtle about checking on your baby’s (kid’s) steady intake of air?