While nannying the other day, the baby was especially fussy. He is teething, was overdue for his nap, and none of the usual tricks were working: more crawling practice to tire him out, putting him in front of his favorite art piece, feeding, chewing on everything, dark room, white noise, light room, stimulation, toys…
He was crying so loud on my hip, in a panic, and I spotted a light blanket. I scooped it up, sat in the rocking chair, and covered him up completely. In the dark, small, lower-oxygen environment, he immediately calmed down, closed his eyes, and started sucking his thumb. Then, mercifully, he went to sleep.
I’m realizing that I’ve been doing the same thing lately, but no one has been there to throw a blanket over my head, hold me close, and lower my oxygen:carbon dioxide ratio so that I am forced to breathe out more than I breathe in.
As adults, we’re expected to monitor and adjust our own stimulation exposure so that we stay calm and balanced. I realized I had been putting more stimulation on myself than I could handle: Trying to start a new career path while navigating a new relationship, financial pressures, and building new community and hobbies. Then throw in a few hours of missed sleep, and you have a recipe for a panic attack and no one to pull the blanket over your head but you, no matter how loud you scream.
I now have much more appreciation for panic attacks. Thanks, baby.