by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor
I’m always wondering why I torture myself with having a baby monitor for the twins and have come close to ditching it many times. The basic problem with a baby monitor is that they do exactly what they’re supposed to do. Besides letting you know if your kid is screaming bloody murder, they monitor every little snort, sniffle and non-pressing whimper which, if you’re anything like me, can keep you awake for no reason. Plus, I’m often privy to the entirely of Rick Springfield’s children’s CD –which I love but is admittedly getting played to death. Am I a glutton for punishment? Am I paranoid? I suppose both.
With my first daughter, I wasn’t sure if we even needed a monitor seeing as our bedroom was about eight steps from the baby’s plus she spent the first four months in a bassinet making her whimpering noises next to my right ear. I laughed in the face of people who had video monitor. You’ve just spent twelve hours with your baby. Now you want to spy on them while they sleep? I’d have to be at the rock bottom of my DVR queue to choose “watching my baby sleep” as an option.
But then we started letting Elby sleep on her stomach – hang on, there’s someone at the door… aaahhh…it’s CPS! They’ve come for me! Did you call them you bastard? I can explain! Look, she accidentally slept through the night for the first time on her belly and my husband and I didn’t want to mess with a good thing so we just decided to let her continue. But we bought a kick ass Angel Care monitor that sounds an alarm if your baby stops breathing for ten seconds. I became a dichotomy between the laid back, “Dude, whatever works” and the decidedly less sanguine “Holy crap, what if something horrible happens?” But, the child slept and thus, so did we; everyone was happy. Eventually the monitor was lent to other paranoid new parents for periods of time until the twins came and the monitor made its way back to us – still in perfect shape.
Quite a few times a night, even if I have the volume turned way down, I am stirred awake by crying and have to decide whether to lay back and pray it stops on its own or if I need to do a “drive-by” whereby I creep into the babies’ room and check for a client that needs to be held a minute or two or just given a little pat and an “It’s okay” or even, God forbid, a ‘nother round of Rick Springfield; every once in awhile it’s something a little more serious.
Last night, around eleven, Jon and I heard Matilda whimpering loudly so I padded down the hall to her room where I found her sitting up in bed. The poor thing was thrashing around, crying and growing more agitated by the second so I swept her sweaty little body into my arms and brought her into the living room –my main priority always being keep the rest of the kids asleep at all costs. But once we were in the light she started kicking and screaming and basically acting like Linda Blair in the Exorcist minus the pea soup. That’s when I realized that Matilda was having her very first…dum dum dee dum…night terror! Oh yes, I’d seen it before with Elby plus Jon and I both have a history of somnambulistic activity. But I have to say, Mattie’s maiden voyage was extreme. She let loose rip roaring screams normal reserved for very badly behaved children in the toy aisle at Target. Along with that she was saying random things like “shoes on!” and “It’s ooookay” and “cookies,” then again Mattie would never turn down a cookie even when fast asleep.
Jon came rushing in hearing the commotion and was immediately worried. We tried to hold onto Matilda as she thrashed around like a hooked fish practically giving herself a head injury on the hardwood floor. I sent Jon off to consult Dr. Google and when he came back ten minutes later, Mattie was still at full steam. Unfortunately the only thing the website Jon found suggested was to put the child back in bed where they can’t hurt themselves until they calm down. Elby’s episodes have only lasted ten minutes at the most so this was already beyond what seemed normal to us but we tried.
“Eat pillow!” Mattie shouted at no one in particular as I attempted to lay her in her crib. “More milk!” she sobbed as she tried to throw herself out of bed with all her strength. Two feet away, Sadie mercifully kept sleeping.
We hauled Matilda back into the other room afraid the whole house would wake up. It took another fifty minutes for the episode to play out. It turns out that some night terrors can last up to three hours. Jon wanted to take her into the ER but I had a bad feeling they’d diagnose her with Yelling Really Loudly For a Long Long Time Syndrome. I could tell that she was just still half asleep and we’d need to be patient. Sure enough, eventually she calmed down, seemed to recognize her surroundings and relaxed into my lap looking up and me and saying, “I go night night.” Yeah, you go night night.
I put her back into bed where she happily went right to sleep. I went back to bed, turned off the monitor and slept through the rest of the night for the first time without a single sound.