Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fear, Part 2

(Today, Aoife woke up and asked me for pink cake. So I said to her, YES. And here it is.)
My nights are quiet now, in this baby-less home, and I sleep all night long sometimes without dreaming before the dawn begins to light the sky and people begin to stir. I used to dream so much, when I was waking and falling back to sleep so often with a babe tucked under my arm while I slept, and now that I sleep so long and hard and I'm not woken it's rare that a dream will wake me.

But the drowning dreams always do, they always do. I have written before about my subconscious obsession with drowning that I can only imagine comes from my infantile brain struggling with the image of my first daughter suffocating whilst surrounded by fluid, a drowning of sorts, though not by definition. The other night I woke with a frightful start from a dream which filled me up to the top. I was on a dock, by a wide, cool lake, and Aoife had just been pulled from the deep. Her lungs were full with water and she was not breathing. I shook her upside down, then laid her down and began to try to pump the water from her chest but I didn't know how hard it was safe to push on her tiny bird-like chest, and feared ruining her some other way. Meanwhile, she was drowned before me, water pouring from her mouth, no breath coming from her at all. Help was being summoned, but I didn't know if it would get there in time.

When I woke from this dream I was thankful to hear that what had woken me was perhaps not the dream and its horror but the sound of my wee bird from down the hall, crying gently to me for another blanket, she was cold. I ran down and scooped her up and curled her in my arms, she is still so tiny and almost frail, and I rocked her while she slept and buried my face in her silky hair and breathed in her warm strawberry-chapstick sleepy smell. Then I tucked around her four or five blankets before returning to my own, lonely childless bed. (Aoife having expressed several times lately that she prefers sleeping in her "own yittle bed")

So that dream, it was sad and awful, but thankfully just a dream.

And I wrote yesterday about how the fear is often surpressed by life itself.

But, then, there are days where it rears its ugly head, of course.

And here is something that I can hardly get myself around-- the idea of my children choking. Oh, my children, how tiny their food has to be cut up. I think that carrots and grapes shall be cut into tiny strips for them forever, and I am continually envisioning them choking on the food I give to them. Tonight, at the dinnertable, Aoife was coughing quite hard while she was eating, and suddenly I was fraught with the vision of her food being sucked into her windpipe as she coughed, and the vision from the dream of me trying in vain to clear her airway overwhelmed me, and I had to take away her plate so I could monitor how much food went in, and when. I felt like I was sinking, like I was weighted by helplessness as I envisioned what it would be like if food closed off her airway and we couldn't get it out, and how the ambulance would scream its way here but it would probably be too late by the time it arrived.

And here is what I could not shake: I cut the food for her, I fed it to her with my own fork. So, in fact, if she did then proceed to choke, I was in fact the instrument in my own child's death, having cut and fed her that bite of food that choked her.

She ate very slowly, as a result, and I am pleased to report that I did succeed in preventing choking for this meal, anyway. Thank goodness this fear can be surpressed on most days. I could not live like that every day.

And so, at the end of this day, I sink back in gratitude once again, for the warm home that surrounds me, for the cozy clothes on my back, the food in my belly, my beautiful family, my loving husband, my two beautiful children, and the daughter who helps me to see it all through the muck and mist of everyday life. I am blessed in so many ways.


Gal aka SuperMommy said...

You write so clearly of motherhood, Carol, and the need everyday to be able to let go of the idea that we can control any of it. This is beautiful, I love the way you write. Your love for your three children shines through.

Meg said...

That fear is so scary,isn't it? The way it coud just creep in and take over. I'm glad you don't let it take over too much. We are learning from you how to let life take center.

kris said...

Your words this week are even clearer and sharper this week. Just beautiful, Carol. Thanks for sharing this part of yourself. Keep loving them all.

Sara said...

Carol, I remember you writing previously about fear and having let go of it. At the time, I couldn't imagine being free of its grips. Yet here I am--and it has helped so much in enjoying my baby each day. I did have a moment last weekend: 2 AM, I was home alone with her, and she stared choking on her formula. As I frantically patted her back, I cried "I can't lose you. I CAN'T lose you." The fear is gone as an every day fixture, but it does pop up.

Anonymous said...

My mom used to sing this to me as a kid when I was scared and couldn't sleep...

and then later when I didn't want to go to school because I feared bullies, or not passing the grade... or choir competition...her voice was already in my head singing it..

For God hath given me a spirit of fear. But of power, might, and a sound mind.

I'm not sure if you're a woman of faith or not. I don't know you well enough. But if you are, I'll give this advice.
It's always, always helped me to bind that fear. It's not of God. Yes it's there. Yes it's real.

But whether you have faith or not... don't own fear that you don't need or want to have. Don't accept it.
You've already told us that you can go most days without it. So when it rears it's ugly head.. say "i don't accept you. I don't want you. go away."
Then make it. Take deep breaths.

Thinking that if Aoife had choked on food that it would have been your hand that did it is owning that fear.
So why own it??

I know it's sound simplistic and maybe it sounds easier said then done.
but it can be done.

my mom has the ability to control her dreams... i'm not that kind of person. i almost have to watch them, as if it's a scary movie and i have things holding open my eyelids so i can't look away.

but maybe in these drowning dreams, if you're able... you can "change" the outcome.
Like saying "this is stupid. Aoife isn't drowning. She's fine."
and then imagining her opening her eyes and giggling like it was a game.

again, i know it sounds silly... but maybe it will help?

Anonymous said...

sorry, my fingers went fast than my mind... it's supposed to be

For God hath not given me a spirit of fear, but of Power, LOVE and a sound mind.

stephanie said...

i love the cake. isn't it wonderful that Aoife can ask for a simple thing like a pink cake and you can make it for her? it is like magic for a child.

THAT GIRL said...

I am in agreement with your first write the edgy everyday life of a mother... raw and uninhibited.

Your cake is beautiful.