I am happy to say that Erin and I have now gotten over our need to constantly watch our newborn to make sure that she is breathing while she sleeps. That is a good thing. We weren’t doing so well when we were convinced that, at any moment during the night, Abby would swallow her own tongue and explode if we so much as blinked. We have learned that, even as a baby, she is perfectly capable of sleeping, eating, and pooping without significant intervention or observation. We now sleep significantly better and look less like late-stage zombies.
However, there is still a lingering need to “spot-check” our little one while she is sleeping in her napper right beside us. Erin will be checking her email on her laptop, I’ll be slogging my way through China Miéville’s Perdido Street Station, and Abby will be beatifically dozing mere feet from me. Periodically, I will sit up from the chair to see that she is, in fact, still breathing. Assured that she’s fine, I’ll sit back down.
After I sit back in my chair, Erin will ask the same question I ask when she does this.
“Is Abby okay?”
It is an odd question to ask of someone that has clearly decided that things are hunky-dory enough that they are unwilling to interrupt their reading to fix it. It occurred to me the other day that I was doing the same thing, and that my expectations were just as odd.
“No,” I sometimes feel like saying, once I realize the silliness of the question. “Abby has gotten a hold of a knife somehow and is playfully jabbing it at her own eyes. I think that she’s trying to see how close she can get the point to her pupil without blinking.”
Or maybe Erin should respond to me with, “Well, another baby has gotten into the bassinet and the two of them are passing a joint back and forth. It may be spiked with PCP, but it’s hard to smell it from here.”
Or, “There is a leak coming from the ceiling and Abby is half submerged. I’ll fish her out when it hits the three-quarters mark. Until then I think she can keep her head up.”
Even as we speak, Abby is knocked off and oblivious to her parent’s illogical concern. She has all but mastered sleeping. She fusses if she poops herself or if she gets hungry. She keeps us abreast of her temperature by screaming bloody murder if she is getting cold. I suppose we could trust that she is pretty good being a baby right now, and that being in the same room with her while she is safely in a safety-approved baby holder is every bit as good standing over her, staring, willing her to struggle through the invisible dangers all around us.
I’m going to go check to make sure that she hasn’t caught on fire.