When most people think of their child’s “firsts”, they think of them crawling for the first time, walking, or saying their first words. Seeing Crue hit milestones his brother never had the chance to hit has been amazing to watch. The firsts that have been monumental to me would be rather normal, everyday things for most mothers. When I think of Crue’s firsts, three things stand out to me…his first night without us, his first time in a pack-n-play, and his first night without his Snuza (breathing monitor). These moments were incredibly hard for me.
I never planned his first overnight. I think it worked out best that I didn’t; it just happened, and I couldn’t have imagined it any other way. I was going out for a much needed girls night up north. My sister-in-law Amanda had been wanting to babysit Crue and offered to watch him while I went out and drive him to me if I had too much to drink. I love Amanda and trust her completely; she is more then a sister in law, she is one of my best friends. It also helps that she is an ICU nurse, just saying. I knew that Amanda would not find it weird if I asked her to keep an eye on Nash Bear too. Todd and I take Nash Bear with us when we go up north, and I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving him at the cabin.
I was having such a good time with my friends that I felt guilty for wanting to stay longer. I kept messaging Amanda, saying that I would be there soon. An hour more would go by, and I would send her that same message. My circle of friends is friends with Amanda as well, so it helped that with every new drink they would speak for her, telling me that Amanda doesn’t mind, stay a little later. I think they all knew that I needed a night out and were trying to calm my worries. I don’t know if it was the alcohol or being away from Crue that long, but I started to cry. My friend Jessie asked me what was wrong and I told her how guilty I felt having such a good time while Crue was with someone else. How guilty I felt for needing any time away from him. How I was afraid he might die while I was out partying it up.
I knew Amanda was more than qualified, but it had reached that time of night where I knew she would be sleeping while he was sleeping. I was panicked. Jessie calmed me down and reassured me that not only would he be fine, but also that I needed to do it. I texted Amanda that I would be really late. She texted back telling me to stay, have fun and not to worry. She said that there was no way she was waking Crue up to drive him to me, so she was going to keep him overnight. I knew my friends were right, I needed to do it. I also needed Amanda to tell me that it was happening because I never could have asked . I had my friend drive me to Amanda’s at 2:00am. So not quite an overnight, but the closest I have known to it. When I got there, Amanda was laying beside him sleeping with her hand on his chest. I took a minute to swallow the lump in my throat, seeing Crue still breathing, resting peacefully, and being cared for. I don’t have the words. It was a moment I needed and didn’t even know I needed.
As most of you know, Nash died while sleeping in a pack-n-play. My family and I no longer use them. Just the word pack-n-play makes us all a little nauseous. We even thought about getting rid of ours. Instead, we put it in the closet in Nash’s room. When Crue began to crawl, it was almost impossible to take a shower because he got into everything. I was asking other mothers what they do. Some suggested locking him in the bathroom with me. I tried, but he would pull the curtain back and try to get in. Another mother said that she just puts her little girl in a pack-n-play right outside the bathroom door. As she said those words, I cringed. It was, however, a great idea. I finally found myself taking the pack-n-play out of the closet and putting it up. I justified it by telling myself that as long as he doesn’t sleep in it, it was fine. I placed Crue in the center with a couple of his toys. He looked up at me and smiled. I laughed at the irony. Crue in the pack-n-play for the first time at 9 months old. He was almost big enough to climb out of it. I have grown to love watching him hold on to the rail and laugh as I am taking a shower. He has never known one day in a crib, so to see him enjoying it makes everything a little more normal.
The last milestone is still a daily struggle. One I’m actually having an easier time with than Todd. Crue had never, and I mean never, slept one night without his Snuza. For those of you that don’t know what that is, it’s a movement monitor that clips on to the front of his diaper. If Crue doesn’t breathe or move for more than ten seconds, it vibrates; if still no movement, an alarm goes off. This is the only reason Todd and I get any sleep whatsoever. The only reason I can close my eyes at night and rest is knowing that if my baby quits breathing, this thing will set off an alarm. However, as soon as Crue hit about 8 months old, he started moving around a lot more at night. It would come off and give off a false alarm. After so many false alarms, it became less scary. I was actually more upset that it woke me up, and I would just shut it off.
After a couple of weeks of doing that, I realized that he was sleeping a couple of hours a night without it. It truly was building my confidence. Todd, however, checks Crue every night to make sure it is not only attached to him, but also that it’s turned on. I can’t tell you how many times Todd has come to bed after me, and I have been woken up to him screaming that the Snuza is not on. When I would explain to him that it would false alarm, Todd was unfazed. I understood, and I put it on him every night like I was asked to. When he was about 9 months old, I would wake to Crue playing with it. He learned to take it off his diaper and because it was still “moving,” it wouldn’t alarm. Now that Crue is 10 months old, I am getting comfortable with the fact that he is past that scary age. That is until there is a news report about a 10 month old dying and the Snuza will be back on. I feel like Todd and I are waiting for that magical number…1. Like we are holding are breath and hoping he makes it. I wonder if these worries will stop when he hits that age. I know that there will be new worries, but will I ever wake up without feeling anxious and sick? Will I ever wake up and not gasp for breath while I turn to Crue and pray he is still alive?