Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Paranoia Dilemma

J is out of town this week. Normally when he is out of town I have specific nighttime rituals that cater to my typical girly home-alone paranoia. I close all the blinds at dusk, lock all of the doors and keep the TV on constantly for company (but I'm keeping Evie out of that room so she doesn't watch).

When it comes to bedtime, however, I have a new dilemma. This is the third business trip J has taken since Evie was born. During the first one (hell week) Evie was tiny and I just brought her into bed with me and we co-slept, so I was able to do my ritual paranoid bedtime routine: lock the bedroom door and put my cell phone on the bedside table. My plan has always been that the dogs would wake me up if there was an intruder and I would have enough time with the locked bedroom door to run into the master bathroom with my cell phone and brace against the bathroom door with my back against the cabinets and my feet against the door and call 911. My plan made me feel safe and I always slept well. With Evie in bed with me the only change was to scoop her up along with the cell phone. No problem.

During J's second business trip his mom was here to help with Evie and with her in the house I didn't need to go through my paranoid routine.

This week, however, I am alone with Evie and she is sleeping so well in her crib that I am loathe to break her routine by bringing her to bed with me. So for the past two nights I have had to face the following dilemma: do I put her in her crib as usual (and with her door open so that her room doesn't get too cold and she gets good air flow to prevent SIDS) and lock myself in my bedroom? It just seems so wrong and un-motherly to lock myself in and leave her door open as if I'm saying "hey, intruder, take the baby but leave me alone." My other option was to abandon my typical home-alone routine and just go to bed as if J were here. But would I sleep well without the security of the locked door? As a single parent, this week, I need my sleep!

So which option do you think I chose?

I know I'm not the only one who has weird paranoid routines for being home alone. I've seen several other women write about this type of thing on their blogs or had them mention it in person to me. I was thinking last night that the source of this paranoia comes, I think, from movies and the news (And the A*DT commercials, have you seen them? Creepy.). Invariably, my image of the intruder has been of a creepy guy who has been stalking me and is breaking in to rob and rape me.

OK, so I chose the second option. I've been sleeping with my door open AND my cell phone on my desk downstairs! Somehow having Evie home with me has calmed down my paranoia. Why? She is completely defenseless and can't protect me; I am here to protect her! I think it's because the movie/book/news scenarios of rapist intruders are always of a woman home alone and never (at least never that I've seen) a mother with an infant. Evie has changed my demographic and I no longer envision myself as that woman in the security system commercial. The chances of our house being broken into haven't changed, I don't think, but my perception of the risk has changed. Thanks Evie.

Anyone else want to share their home-alone rituals or whether motherhood has changed them?


  1. I had a similar issue, except Eric works evenings/ midnights so it was atleast 4 nights a week.
    I used to feel safe knowing that there was a gun in the top dresser drawer (I am married to a cop after all) but when Megan started walking Eric sold the handgun (he still had his duty weapon of course) and now there are only rifles/ shotguns in the house if he is not here. Not only do they not do me any good (since I have never fired one before) but they are unloaded, and locked in the gun safe in the basement. Of course the day-to-day safety of my children is the most important thing, but shortly after Eric got rid of the gun I had nightmares that someone would break into the house and I would go for the gun... only to find it was not there. My security blanket was gone.

    Oh, and we do not have a phone in our bedroom, and my cell is usually in my purse on the entry table. I know... good place for it huh!

  2. The first couple of times I was home alone, I would bring my dog to bed with me and I figured that she would alert me if anything was wrong. Well, she alerted me, but nothing was wrong! She is horrible to sleep with, that dog. All she wants to do is bark at strange noises and whine to go outside. So I stopped bringing her to bed and just did our normal bedtime routine. And then, when the kids came, I just kept it up. I typically am only paranoid when pregnant, though so life is good up to that point.

    Good luck this week!

  3. I wouldn't worry about it too much. The baby will be more disturbed by your anxiety than anything else. Just do your normal routine and have faith.

  4. Do you guys have a home security system? (It doesn't sound like you do.) I know they can't save you but they can sure help. We had ours installed a few months after moving into our house, which was also before our twins were born. I have felt so much safer and more relaxed, I tell ya. At least that gives me the time to call 911 and will scare off any intruders.

    As far as my night time routine when hubby was away when our children were infants, most of the time, I let them sleep in my room for added security. I just felt better if they were with me if anything happened, even with the security alarm on. And yes, I always made sure my cell phone was by my bedside.

  5. I won't begin to tell you how long it's taken me to get Grant to sleep in his own room. *sigh* But, he now sleeps in his room and my husband will be taking a trip in about a month, that will be our first time with him gone and Grant in his own room. To make matters worse, Grant's room is on the 2nd floor while mine is on the first.

    I likely will sleep on the daybed in Grant's room during that time. I still have paranoia about something happening at night. Sure my dogs would alert me, but one of my dogs is very anxious when my husband is away so his alerts are generally useless and just cause me to sleep horribly and become annoyed with him every time he whines or barks.

    Even more importantly, I worry not just about intruders, but what if a fire starts and I'm asleep downstairs while some funky wiring in the upstairs bathroom sets the upstairs ablaze? That stuff scares me even more than intruders. Does anyone remember the episode of Little House on the Prairie where Mary's baby dies in the second floor bedroom of the blind school? ugh.

    Nope...I'll just sleep up in his room and we'll both be comfortable. Worst case scenario, I could always sleep in my stepson's room that is next to Grant's too...since he is only here on the weekends.

    And I can appreciate your mental scenario of running to the bathroom and bracing the door. I have a mental escape scenario from every room of our house, excepting the upstairs bathroom. I have even plotted out which side of the house would be safer to drop Grant to the ground if necessary.

    I think becoming a mom just makes you so keenly aware of how vulnerable your baby is, that you fixate on such things. I am still very alert in parking lots. The 6 steps it takes me to get from the back passenger door, where Grant is strapped into his carseat, to the driver door makes me feel like I've left us both completely open to any number of horrific possibilities.

  6. +Kelly: I think I would feel even more paranoid with a gun, actually, because I've heard that they are more likely to be used against you by an intruder than for you to use them to protect yourself, but I'm sure it's different odds for you guys since Eric is a cop :) We only have one gun in the house: it's an antique hunting rifle that belonged to J's deceased grandfather. Not only is it safely tucked away in the basement, unloaded, but we don't even own a single bullet that would fit it, and we never plan to buy bullets for it, so I mostly forget it's there. We do have a phone in our bedroom but it has a cord and it's right by the door, which is why I usually take my cell in :)

    Safire: The dogs always sleep in our room and the only time they give us false alerts is if there is a bunny or cat in the back yard. They've only done the false alert thing once when I was home alone and, needless to say, I didn't get any sleep that night. That was before Evie.

    Blonde Duck: actually I don't think I've been feeling particularly anxious...I'm not sure what emotion word to use...but not anxious. More like cautious, meticulous and a bit OCD :)

    Wait Another Year: nope, we don't have a security system. We had one in Ohio when we lived there and we both thought it was a PITA and if we forgot to disarm the motion detectors then the dogs would set the alarm off every once in awhile, so we agreed not to install one here. It's a good suggestion, though. When it comes down to it, we live in a very safe neighborhood and I would feel silly paying all of the money to put one in :)

    T: Evie's nursery is right next to the master bedroom and it takes me about 10 seconds from my bed to her crib, but if we were on separate floors I think I would do what you're describing. She does have a couch in the nursery and I did consider that, but she is a light sleeper these days and wouldn't sleep well with me in the nursery with her :( Interesting about the fire fears, I really don't worry about fire. I think it's because fire prevention is something J knows a lot about because of his job and I feel our house is pretty safe in that regard, but you bring up a good point about needing a plan just in case. I used to watch Little House all the time and although I don't clearly remember the episode you're referring to, I do think that scenarios in TV and movies have a big influence on my paranoia about several different things. I am the same way in parking lots and the worst is when you have a cart and need to return it to the cart corral...there's no easy way to do that with a baby! Putting her in the car and locking it and then returning the cart makes me feel like I've abandoned her!

  7. I think you did the courageous thing with Option B, and I definitely get your reasoning for doing it. I have felt so much braver since Snippet was born. Even silly things like a lingering fear of the dark have nearly disappeared because I think of myself now as a protector, instead of a possible victim. Also, I don't want him to pick up on my fears and start being afraid, too. Even though there is evil in the world, I want him to bravely encounter it.

  8. I totally hate nights alone. I see what you're talking about. Honestly, if it were me I would lock myself in the baby's room and sleep on a cot or even the floor.

  9. For the record, I became one of those awful people who don't return carts on the second trip to the grocery after Grant was born. Now, I either shop at a store that still carries out my groceries ( and I don't worry one bit about that, figuring I've earned that service by venturing out of my home with a baby and spending money there) or I leave the cart towards the front of my parking space. I figure if they really wanted their cart returned to the proper place, ALL stores would have someone carry my groceries out.
    It sounds snotty, but it was the only way I could deal with the car issue in a parking lot. here in FL, leaving your baby in a car even for a moment can result in charges being filed and your child being taken from you too...since we have multiple cases each year of children dying in hot cars. (My hubby is a juvenile dependency attorney so I'm rather sensitive to those laws and a bit overcautious due to them.)


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