July 29, 2011
Iris is two weeks old today and it’s really hard to believe that time has gone by so quickly. I haven’t updated here for awhile because the focus has been on Iris, as it should be. But lately I’ve been thinking a lot about Toby, too.
It’s really hard sometimes to distinguish between the two. There are times when I forget that Iris hasn’t actually been here for a year. Since she has been a part of our reality for 10 months, it feels like she has been here longer than 2 weeks. On the other hand, since I had an infant this time last year, and Toby never really aged much, it kind of plays tricks on my mind. I know they’re different babies but there’s a strange sense of going back in time that can be emotionally exhausting.
There are many other women that I know who have had babies around the same time as me and when I look at them I am sometimes jealous of their ignorant bliss of SIDS. They brag about their babies sleeping long periods of time, of already being able to drink alcohol and “pass out”, and other things that make me nervous. In my household, someone is constantly awake with Iris. We watch her in shifts so that someone is always up. That person never sleeps and rarely even looks away from her. We check her breathing every 10 minutes. She wears a Snuza attached to her diaper that goes off should she stop breathing for more than 15 seconds. That’s our reality.
Of course, Iris is a great sleeper which totally freaks us out. Sam was a horrible sleeper and Toby was pretty good until his acid reflux kicked in. Iris sleeps great, though. Or at least she would if we would stop waking her up.
I don’t want the other mothers to be as paranoid as we are. Still, there’s a feeling of weirdness whenever they talk about their babies sleeping well and the things that they are doing and I can’t put my finger on it. Sometimes, I get the feeling that when some people talk to us they still believe, somewhere deep down inside, that we MUST have done something wrong. That it would never happen to them or their infant.
Of course, we know that we didn’t do anything wrong but a lot of people that we talk to will ask us questions, trying to figure out where things went bad. We’ve been asked questions like, “Did you put him to sleep on his stomach?” or “Did you have him in bed with you when it happened?” Like they’re searching for the “cause.” I can understand that. It’s unfathomable that you can put a perfectly healthy infant down to sleep, only to wake up hours later to find them dead. SIDS is not a disease, after all, but a cause of death when all other causes have been ruled out.
I have heard some SIDS parents say that once they had their “rainbow baby” it was difficult for them to get back on track because they were no longer innocent when it came to infant death. Some parents even said that they looked at their rainbow baby in terms of “when” they died and not “if.” I can understand that. I think some parents who hadn’t experienced that, though, would be appalled by it.
Already, in the two weeks that she has been alive, I have been convinced that Iris was gone. One morning I woke up with Pete and Sam and didn’t hear a sound coming from downstairs. Of course I couldn’t-the house is well insulated. Still, it was a morning very much like that of August 21st and I was the first one up. I convinced myself that she was gone and that Mom had fallen asleep. I sat on the top stair for about 30 minutes, trying to find the courage to go down to the first floor. Finally, Pete woke up and he went down first. Of course, Mom and Iris were fine.
I don’t know that things will get better as far as that is concerned. Some people say that when their babies go past the age that their other babies died at they start feeling better. For us that will be in 5 weeks. I can’t see us resting any easier beyond that, though. I don’t know that there is a “magic” number for us. Maybe one year. Maybe 6 months. In the meantime, we’re trying to focus more attention on her, spend lots of time with her, and give her lots of kisses. Pete said that he kisses her every time he leaves the room because part of him always thinks that he better because it might be the last chance he has. I have trouble going to sleep for the same reason.
These feelings are not abnormal. It’s just a new “normal” for us. In one way it sucks. In another, at least we’ll never take our living children for granted again.