Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Parental fear

I was reading an article on post partum depression the other day and I came across a peculiar symptom they listed as a sign that you have it: fear of being left alone with your kid(s).

Um, I've been afraid of being alone with my triplets since they were 3 months old.

I started off with confidence. I was planning on being a stay at home mom anyway, so now I'd just be extra busy, right? After I finally got all three triplets at home I really wanted to try it on my own so I sent the mother in law home to Illinois and started in on my new life. I was practically fearless. I mean, what could happen?

RSV. That's what. For those of you without children, RSV is a typical cold for grown ups that can kill infants. It smothers them with snot. Days after the kids got home from the NICU they came down with colds. The fevers meant I had to get them checked and each time I took one to the doctor they failed the blood oxygenation test. In other words, they were not getting enough oxygen by breathing on their own. They all ended up in the pediatric ward for 3 days on oxygen and having the snot sucked out of them by this dastardly machine they have invented. It was a wee bit scary but under control I suppose.

So after they all got home from the hospital from that, my husband thought it was finally time for him to go back to work. Monday morning he headed out. We had a normal morning, except that it seemed like J went a little blue when I fed him, but I was sure it was a trick of the lighting. He was fine otherwise, and the blue was just around the mouth and his eyes were red but just for a bit.

Yeah I know.

So then it was hours later and I started feeding him again. This can't be right. He's looking all funny again. Red raccoon eyes and blue around the mouth. But RSV is only supposed to be deadly in the first 72 hours! What is going on? My parents were still in town so I called them to come stay with the other two triplets and headed off to the ER. At every stoplight I reached back and checked if my infant was still breathing. I hit every stoplight on the way of course. By the time I reached the ER he was grey. I got fastracked in you might say. His oxygen saturation was 85 or so. Not ok.

That was my first day alone with the kids.

But that wasn't all it took. After several days alone again it was time to bathe the kids one by one in the infant tub in the kitchen sink. It seemed that apparently the other two refused to be left alone at this particular juncture. Screaming ensued. Each time I'd exchange one kid for another they'd change places. the one being bathed was happy as a clam. The other two? Banshees.

Then they started the witching hour business. Have you ever had 3 infants screaming inconsolably at you for even 5 minutes? It is insanity producing. It actually makes you want to grab one and beat the other two with it.

I didn't have post-partum depression. I had post traumatic stress disorder. It's a wonder I don't have flashbacks today. It's a wonder I don't wake screaming in the night trying to swaddle my husband while binkying a cat and bottle feeding the table lamp.

So, being afraid to be left alone with your kids? Somewhat understandable. At some point I called my mother in law and begged her to come back. And then I told her she was never allowed to leave again. These days I try to work myself into some sort of calm state when I'm to be left alone with the kids. Last week when grandma had to head home due to being sick as a dog and I had to handle bedtime alone? It was a challenge I was kind of excited about. And the next night when I had to do baths alone? No problem. But the fear strikes initially. That old feeling that I have no chance in surviving the onslaught of triplets plus one on my own. And then I realize that I can and will be ok.

As long as I have a glass of wine.


  1. Always knew you could do it!! And the wine is nice too!! MIL

  2. anything is always better with a glass of wine, in my opinion

    having full confidence in you that you can continue to do this on your own!!


  3. Yesterday I walked my trio over to the neighbor's where my older daughter was playing. I gave said neighbor a basket of home-grown tomatoes in exchange for company and that glass of wine :)

  4. I don't think you need prozac. i think you need combat armor.

    I had enough trouble with four of different ages; I cannot imagine three at a time and a baby. I'D be terrified, and I just don't get freaked.

  5. Love this post, Mira. Hilarious. And I so remember that incident with J. Scary stuff.

    Me, I'm not afraid to be left alone with my 3. I'm afraid to be left alone with them and have no mini-van. I save my sanity by NEVER being home alone in the afternoon with them if I can at all help it. (Unlike The Mother, I get freaked quite regularly.) The day my sis needed to borrow the van and there was no one else here....near nervous breakdown. No joke. It's that witching hour. ughhh.....