What To Expect When You’re Expecting: More Panic Attacks

Yesterday I strapped my baby girl in the Ergo to get my fix.  Not quite smack, but pretty damn close.  The very last day of the delectable Smores cupcake at Sprinkles.

Graham cracker-lined Belgian dark chocolate cake filled with bittersweet chocolate ganache and topped with toasted marshmallow frosting.  Ooey gooey yummy-ness

Everything was going right.  I had money on my Metrocard and we caught the uptown 6 train in less than a minute (a nearly impossible feat on a Sunday afternoon).  When we arrived, more good fortune.  The Smores were fresh and there was a very short line.  My mouth was watering and Chloe was entertained by the constant movement of the city.

We headed back underground to the downtown 6, which was just arriving.  I couldn’t believe our luck!  No delays at Grand Central – round trip this little excursion would take less than 30 mi…..

My thoughts came to a screeching halt.  And it wasn’t just in my head.  It was the train as well.  The ear piercing sound of metal on metal could mean only one thing.  Someone pulled the emergency brake.

Despite my decades of living in the city and using the subway almost every day, I had never experienced this in real life.  I recognized it only from the movies — Speed, Die Hard (with a Vengeance), Hackers, Pelham 1-2-3.  You can see where my mind was going with this in an instant.  Not good.

So here’s where I want to tell you something you won’t read in any baby book.   Things even your awesome best friend – the one who told you about the weeks of bleeding, the night sweats, the baby blues, the leaking (breast and bladder) – forgot to mention:  your life is forever changed once you have children.  In ways your best friend can’t even begin to describe.

Let’s go back to my subway incident as a prime example.

Before kids: Probably some bored teenagers getting their kicks on a slow Sunday.  At my expense.  Damn kids.

Post-kids:  Don’t panic.  Don’t panic.  You need to think clearly.  Assess whether we are faced with a potential train collision, bomb, or hostage situation.  Then come up with a perfect plan of action to escape in the nick of time.

Before kids:   Hey, great timing!  Sprinkles in hand!  Maybe now I’ll have an opportunity excuse perfectly valid reason to eat all four cupcakes without having to share with anyone.  After all, we could be stuck here for hours.

Post-kids:  What the f#ck was I doing?  I put myself and my 14 month old baby in grave danger (is there any other kind?) for the insanely selfish reason of enjoying overpriced cupcakes??!?!?!?!??   Stupid, stupid, stupid!!

Before kids:  it’s too bad I don’t have any milk to enjoy with these rich cupcakes.

Post-kids: I’m too far into the weaning process to produce enough milk for Chloe to survive.  Damn it!  Why don’t I have more milk?!?

Before kids:  If this train blows up it will be really sad because I never got to have children. 

Post-kids: If this train blows up it will be really sad because I have children.

People openly lament the lost exotic vacations, copious amounts of free time and, of course, the dream of a good nights sleep.  But not enough people remind you of the loss of simplicity that is replaced by hyper-awareness.  Suddenly you are given parent goggles.

Image courtesy of myclone.wordpress.com

With these special glasses you cannot see the world as it once was.  Instead you must see the potential harms in everything:  from subway terrorists, to the media, to the strawberries at the local market.   Because maintaining the innocence, the purity, the security of other human beings (two in my case) — that’s your responsibility now.

A heavy but beautiful burden

21 thoughts on “What To Expect When You’re Expecting: More Panic Attacks

  1. Sometimes I go as far as potential, but deliberate food poisoning while dining out, anaphylactic shock (Where’s my damn Epipen???!!!!), and the worst for me is airplane turbulence:
    pre-kids: On a flight from JFK to Charleston – flying along the atlantic coast through an intense lightening storm, lights out, plane rocking and almost rolling, dropping and climbing, max 30 people on board the puddle jumper, panic everywhere. Surprisingly, I am as calm as can be. Pretty much writing my obituary and thinking about how little news coverage this will get.

    post-kids: Cross country flight from Newark to Seattle. Little one on lap, pregnant with my second. Aboard a 747 with close to 200 people. Hitting baby bumps along the way. I am in full blown panic mode, clutching the seat and my daughter, pretty much praying to God we don’t crash into the Rockies. Can’t breathe, can’t move, and then it’s over. We land safely and I don’t think about again until the flight back.

  2. Oh my god, so true! Suddenly everything is a potential threat to my child, from physical dangers to psychological trauma and social influence. How did a world that once seemed so harmless suddenly become so full of evil??

    • Right? It’s crushing. It seems much worse raising girls (maybe that’s just me) but I worry far more about her. I won’t let her watch fairy tales because of the princesses or eat soy because of the estrogen. I’ll worry more about her friends and of course the boys she is around. A world I sauntered around suddenly intimidates me at every turn…

  3. Aww, I love this. So true. For a solid 2 or 3 months there, I think I coped with my anxiety by projecting it all on to myself, and I was convinced I was going to die of some horrible disease any day and not be able to see my baby grow up. Never mind that there are a million possible ways to die on any given day–car accidents, choking, falling wrong in the shower, whatever. I was fixated on the idea of some disease I couldn’t control. That was a rough few months. Thankfully, I feel better now.

    If I had one of those smores cupcakes, I might have felt better a lot sooner ;p

    • Yes, parent goggles are also especially keen on picking up the ways you could expire – the harms aren’t limited to just your children. I’m not gonna lie, that smores cupcake tasted extra delicious having narrowly escaped a third remake of Pelham 123.

  4. I so get this! One COLD dark winter evening after work…..probably not later then six o’clock,I did donuts on the ice and all I could think was ” Not now! Not now! I have to get to my baby!

    Today is so much scarier! You are so much stronger!

  5. I also didn’t realize the angst I would have for fictional children. I find it so upsetting when something bad (or potentially bad) is happening to kids on tv, in movies or in books. So pervasive.

  6. Whenever I think of subway shutdowns, I’m always reminded of that Felicity episode when Felicity and Julie are stuck in the subway and are forced to sort out their Ben issues. Hope I’m not the only one that watches cheesy tv shows :)
    Totally know what you mean about the parent panics, I’m constantly on the verge, and so wish I had some of those cupcakes on hand to take the edge off :)

  7. Wow – those cupcakes look and sound AMAZING! I totally would have made the trip as well, and then had the same kind of guilt and panic attack when that break got pulled on the subway. (So what happened anyway? Was it kids? Was everything ok? Yep, I’m a mess.) This is such a great post, everything changes when you have kids. Everything. Where I used to be so laid back and always up for an adventure, I’ve turned in to a super protective, constantly worries mess – haha! Great post!

  8. I fear silence – I used to revel in silent moments where I could curl up with a book and a glass of wine. Silence now means someone has run out to the garage and started the weed whacker up while I was drying my hair. This must be why women age faster … Sweet, poignant, post. And a click for you – of course!!

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