We brought Little A home on a Wednesday. Each of us wound up taking a nap with him on our chests in the following 48 hours. On Friday night, those crazy mid-Atlantic storms knocked our power out. The house was still cool enough to sleep upstairs and Little A was still sleeping in our room.
In the middle of that night, who knows what time since our clocks were out, I wake up. In a panic, startled, worried, frantic. Possibly a wee bit dazed from the Percocet. I suddenly realize that there is a lifeless, unmoving mass in my arms. Roughly 19 inches long. And I flip the $#&* out. FLIP THE #^&!@$#%! OUT.
I bolt out of bed, as easily as I could, which was not easy since I was only five days into recovery and we have a wicked high bed, and run to turn the lights on, which do not work. I am in total hysterics, thinking I have just SIDSed my own newborn. I cry. I bawl. I am freaking out. FREAKING THE !#$^!~ OUT.
CONFESSION TIME. I am 31 years old and I sleep with a stuffed animal. A sea otter, to be specific, though in the past it has also been a teddy bear, a gorilla and a mashed up pillow named Huggy that I stole from my husband in college. Basically, I have to sleep with my arms wrapped around something otherwise I sleep like total crap.
Now you know.
And it was at this point, after a minute of sheer panic, that I realize the lifeless thing I am holding has a shitton of fur. And a leather nose. And plastic eyes. And a starfish.
But I need visual confirmation. I’m still in a frenzy. And I can’t even find the actual baby. I need light for that. I’m not sure I’m breathing.
I try to chill out, take some deep breaths, stumble over to my husband’s side of the bed where I stub my toe on the Rock ‘n Play thingy and hear the gentle snores of a live baby. I am still unconvinced so I reach down to poke it and I am pretty sure I stabbed him in the eye. I am still cradling the stuffed otter I have suffocated, so I give it a squish and mash its face around to make sure it is in fact a stuffed cotton sea creature.
Finally convinced everything was fine, I tried to go back to sleep. It must have taken at least 45 minutes for my heart to stop racing. It was one of the worst feelings I’ve ever felt and I feel a lot of feelings.
One would think that after said traumatic event, I would just not sleep with the otter.
But I can’t NOT sleep with the otter. And that awake-with-a-sudden-panic feeling? Still happens. Every night. At least once. Sometimes I think it’s lifeless, sometimes the crying through the baby monitor makes me think the baby is in the bed. Though I convince myself almost instantaneously that I have only suffocated the otter, it is not pleasant to startle oneself awake every night thinking such horrendous thoughts.
But the choice between zero comfortable sleep or sleeping with that grimy ocean beast and panic for 15 seconds a night is somehow an easy choice.
It doesn’t hurt that otters, even stuffed ones, may be the only thing that can rival the cuteness of my own spawn.