Sunday, January 31, 2010


This afternoon I arrived home to a houseful. My parents had arrived a few minutes earlier, the kids were uproariously playing with matchbox cars and a little plastic racetrack they'd picked up at the dump, and Greg was on the phone calling for pizza.
Fiona, amazingly, was asleep in her car seat when we came inside. My dad took her from me and brought her over to the couch and set the seat down. She looked so sweet, so calm. My mother came over to look.
She's so tiny, she commented. She looks almost... she paused, and then said it. Waxy.
And suddenly she did, to me, too. Waxy, too pale. Very still.
Images flashed before my eyes, words echoed through my head, of those nightmarish stories of car seats angled wrong, of breathing being cut off.
I thrust my face into her face but I felt no breath.
(truly, I did not, but I will admit to you that I only gave it half a second)
I whipped the straps off and yanked her out of her car seat, almost shaking her awake.
She did, thank god, wake up.
But it seemed slow. Like she almost couldn't wake up, but then did.
Had she died in her car seat, and then come back?

Two hours later I realize the impossibility of that, and the fact that my baby was simply asleep was cemented in my brain when I looked down at her, warm and breathing in the sling about thirty minutes ago and realized that her little face looked, well, waxy. She is pale, pale, pale... and when she's not flushed, she's pale. Pale as wax. And alive and well.
And I also realize that babies do sometimes sleep in their car seats. Just not often mine.

But that moment was absolutely real. I had lost her, for a moment, and as with the moments that I used to awaken in the night and think that she was gone I was faced with not a flustered, frantic panic, but a complacent sinking heart, I knew this was going to happen, I can't believe it actually has. A disbelief that it could possibly happen again. A horror of what is to come.

And then, thank god, thank god, thank god, whoever he or she or they may be, relief.

And now in my arms, on she sleeps.

And you can bet I will be thanking my lucky stars when she screams in the car on the way to school tomorrow.


Hope's Mama said...

I got shivers reading this. I can totally relate. Had a few similar occasions with Angus where he's sleeping in his pram (not in my arms or someone else's arms for a change) and he gets in to that deep, deep baby sleep and his breath goes so shallow, it is almost impossible to see, feel or hear. I have been known to poke at him, tickle his feet, just to be sure. Even if it does mean waking him.
I always feel like death is just around the corner.

ezra'smommy said...

I literally have that moment at least once a day since Micah arrived 1 month and 2 days ago. Its way too easy to allow my mind to go there.

Ya Chun said...

So scary!

Sounds like it is time for spring and sunshine.

kris said...

Sending love to you, Greg, Liam, Aoife, sweet baby Fiona, and always Charlotte.

Sarah Bain said...

Always love with fear hidden somewhere in the recesses of our bodies. I wake often, run my index finger close to the children's lips until I feel the warmth of their breath. Sometimes, in the moment, all hearts stop and I die a little waiting to feel what's already there. Love and more love to you!