St. Elmo, Patron Saint of Temper Tantrums and Confused Parents

Monday morning my daughter said her first sentence. I wasn’t there – I had left before she woke up to take the train to a conference. According to my husband, she woke up, popped her pacifier out of her mouth, and said “Ahkneemama.” I need mama.

It’s not easy being a working mom, but times like those make it seem just plain impossible.

The conference was for two days, so this scene basically replayed the next day as well. Ahkneemama. Sigh.

So last night around 11:30, she woke screaming. I’m not sure if screaming is the right word. It was guttural and scary. She wasn’t really awake. She was thrashing so much that my husband took her out of the crib and placed her on the floor, fearing she’d really injure herself. It went on, and on, and on. We sat with her, we tried to hold her but that made her scream and thrash more. We chanted. Him: sweetie, sweetie, sweetie. Me: it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay. We tried to let our voices reach her but they just didn’t. We pushed the pacifier to her – to her lips, to her hands, but it was like it wasn’t there, the thing that had saved us so many times before. We ran our fists through our hair. We looked at each other. He thought she was too hot and wanted to take off her shirt. I thought she was too cold and wanted to add pants. Maybe it was the mosquito bites she’d gotten that afternoon. Or the cortisone cream I’d put on them. Do you have the answer? No, do you? I’m scared. Me too.

I stood up and got the portable DVD player we use on airplanes and put on Elmo. The screaming stopped for several seconds. She looked, her eyes opened a little bit. Then she kept screaming. Then she stopped again. Her eyes opened wider. She reached for her pacifier. She sat up. Her eyes were wide now. She popped the pacifier out and looked at my husband. “Elmo,” she said. I said a silent thank you prayer to god for creating that beautiful little red monster that somehow reached my daughter when I couldn’t. Thank you thank you thank you Elmo Elmo Elmo. She watched for a minute or two, and seemed to grow sleepy again. We handed her her Elmo doll, and cautiously switched off the DVD player. We laid her down in her crib and she went back to sleep.

At 2:30 the scene replayed, but she was crying rather than screaming. It was less scary, and yet not. My husband went in alone and couldn’t get her to settle down. I walked in. She saw me and stopped crying immediately. She reached out her arms. I picked her up and sat in the rocker. She fell asleep right away. I held her tiny sleeping body and stroked her so, so soft hair. Her breath on my neck was heaven and somehow also made me sad. This happened again at 4 am. My husband said, I think she missed you. Ahkneemama.

In the morning she was all smiles. And hugs, so many hugs. She wanted to hug me, she wanted to hug her daddy. When we would hug her, she would start to laugh. There’s my beautiful girl. I need you too.


5 responses »

  1. OMG!! I’m suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress by reliving the scenario of my babies waking up screaming and not being able to tell me what was wrong…. Stay strong, Carly!


    Aunt Sheri

  2. Pingback: St. Elmo – An Update « My Stupid Crohn's

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