I would like to start this post by pointing out that Tim and I live in a very normal house. In fact it’s a new build with no major structural or “wear and tear” issues that I’m aware of. We are also careful and considerate people and I’m confident I speak for both of us when I say we are never intentionally lax when it comes to the safety of anyone, let alone our child. I’m ashamed to say that until we had Hugh I was unaware that we were living a reckless, devil may care life in a baby death trap with danger and destruction lurking around every corner.
Ordinary, everyday objects take on a whole new level or terror with a baby, especially as they get older. And more mobile. And more “everything in the mouth”. Newborns are a cinch. In the first 12 weeks of Hugh’s life I was terrified of harming him in some way, but I was new to all of this and had no idea the true danger that lay ahead. Newborns just lie there. Sure, they cry and poop and feed and sleep too but the most beautiful thing about a newborn (aside from their adorable little faces) is the fact that they are immobile. You put them somewhere and they don’t move. They drink liquid which goes down like a non choking dream and life is generally good. You don’t appreciate it at the time, but trust me, it’s good.
While I can’t pinpoint the exact date that things went south I feel like I really started noticing it when Hugh hit the 4 month mark. Since that day the list of things that are trying to harm my son includes, but is not limited to:
– our bed/ any grown up beds (already rolled off one)
– lounges with a gap greater than his own body width (already wedged himself beneath one)
– coffee shops and everything in them ( see ‘Mum Gone Wild’ for more details on that one)
– stairs (basically a siren call for babies)
– anything with a power cord (straight in the mouth)
– anything with batteries (straight in the mouth)
– anything with small pieces (straight in the mouth)
– Car keys (straight in the mouth – seeing a pattern yet?)
– Non age appropriate foods
– Age appropriate foods
– Nature (flora and fauna). Spiders in my house are a WHOLE new level of horror (not yet in the mouth but give it time).
All of these sound relatively harmless but I’m forgetting to mention the biggest danger of all. The greatest of all dangers to my beautiful baby boy is himself. Hugh is like “Capatin Risky” from that insurance commercial but without the crash helmet or the ability to speak. He is determined to turn the most innocuous everyday item into a weapon of self harm.
The age appropriate rice cakes we feed him are designed to “dissolve as the infant chews them”. Doesn’t work when the infant in question insists on putting the whole buscuit in his mouth at once and then gags profusely because he can’t close said mouth let alone chew. Much time is spent fishing bits of food out of Hugh’s mouth as his eyes are bigger than his, well, his mouth I guess.
While our car keys are a jangly delight in the hands of my boy they are a tonsillectomy waiting to happen. Why can’t you just look at them?! Why does it take less than 30 seconds for you to stop shaking them with delight and progress to shoving the longest, and suddenly the most lethal looking key down your throat?
Hugh was on our bed the other morning while we got dressed and I turned to find him eating my iPhone charger. It wasn’t plugged in thankfully but of the two sides he could be gumming on which did he choose? The smooth, less dangerous white display end? No. That would be simple. Instead he was sucking one of the metal prongs furiously while being awfully close to sticking the other two up his nostrils. Truth be told I don’t even know how he got it off my bedside table. He’s just a magnet for things that can cause him bodily harm.
Even in his own walled cot he dances with death. When we had to transition Hugh to sleep with his arms out of his swaddle we gave him a soft lamb blankey ( a gift from his Aunty Emsey) to help him sleep. You see, he used snuggle his face to into the “wings” of the swaddle for comfort and then drop off. The lamb was to replace the wings and it worked. Kind of. Unfortunately rather than just cuddling into the lamb on the side Hugh insisted on dragging it over his face and that was it. What followed was a stress filled two hours watching the monitor for small twitches or signs that he was alive and hadn’t smothered himself to death with his much loved “Lambie”. Against all SIDS guidelines he has also taken to sleeping on his tummy, face first in the mattress.
We’re doing all we can to protect our boy from harm but it feels like no matter what I do he will find a way to seek out the riskiest most thrilling thing in the room and gravitate towards it, whether that be open power outlets, heavy unstable objects or set of deceptively harmless keys that happen to be lying around.
The only solution is to remove everything and create a white padded room with soft walls and soothing sounds and nothing harmful. Not for Hugh, for me, so I can escape for a while from the stress of a mobile, exploratory Hugh Abrahams.