Tuesday, November 12, 2013

{Real Mom Life} Night Terrors

For a long time I had trouble going to sleep due to striking fears I had for Maylin's safety at night. I'm not sure if this is common for other mothers, whether you're a first time mom or not, but I have a hunch it is. These fears increased when we graduated Maylin to her crib upstairs, which at the time seemed so far away from our master bedroom.

I was scared on behalf of Maylin for all sorts of things, but there are three fears in particular that plagued me. And instead of telling myself I was being irrational, my mind would flesh out all sorts of scenarios that I would allow to replay over and over in my head.

SIDS is the first and probably most prominent fear. I've always been terrified of SIDS, painstakingly doing "everything right" so that Maylin would still be alive come morning. I'd swaddle her, run a fan in her room, no loose clothing or blankets or bumpers or toys or pillows or animals in the crib, lay her on her back on a single, thin fitted sheet... and still my mind would create extremely vivid and detailed visions of me walking upstairs, opening the door, and finding her face down, not breathing, her face distorted from suffocation.

Then I became almost crippled by the belief that Maylin would be taken in the night while Michael and I were sleeping, that I would wake to find her simply vanished. Again, my mind replayed images of me walking upstairs, opening the nursery door, and finding a completely vacant crib, an open window through which she had been kidnapped.

The third prominent fear of mine is that Maylin would suffer from nightmares. There actually was a period of a few weeks when Maylin was about 4 months that she would wake suddenly from a deep sleep with terrified, heart-wrenching screams. Sometimes I was able to calm her pretty quickly, and other times her screams would continue. I became convinced she was having nightmares, or that she was seeing frightening things in the house that were invisible to me.

I'm telling you the truth when I say I was wrecked every night by these fears. Sometimes I was able to make a comment to Michael about what I was afraid of, and he would quickly reassure me in a calming manner that those things were irrational and that Maylin was perfectly fine. I'd take a deep breath and let them go. Other times I whispered a quick little prayer to banish my terrors, took a deep breath, and let them go. But eventually, the devil, that crafty serpent of old, realized he had a hold on me, and spun me into a downward vortex of captivity that hopelessly ensnared me. I soon realized for the sake of my sanity and my family that God would have to take full control over the situation.

So, I went to war.

The Word of God truly is sharper than any two edged sword, able to slay the toughest, most evil of enemies, which this time happened to be the terrors of my mind. I "stumbled upon" {love how God works that way} a chapter in Psalms that spoke directly to my fears. I started to read this Psalm every night after I put Maylin to sleep. I read it over and over, letting it juxtapose with my three most prominent fears so that I was basically debunking the false scenarios that replayed in my mind. I started praying this Psalm outside Maylin's nursery door after putting her down, praying away what frightened me and letting the peace of God, which passes all understanding, guard my heart and my mind from fearful thoughts. Throughout the day, when I put Maylin down for her naps, I'd read this Psalm, letting its promises and truths penetrate the deepest parts of my thought life until I believed what God was saying.  I read and recited this portion of Scripture so often I had whole sections of the chapter memorized without consciously trying to do so. These are the portions that spoke to me the most {emphases mine}::

Psalm 91
{The LORD God} will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark. You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day; of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or of the destruction that lays waste at noon. A thousand may fall right by your side, and ten thousand by your right hand, but it shall not approach you. You will only look on with your eyes and see the recompense {repayment} of the wicked. For you have made the LORD, the Most High your refuge and your dwelling place. No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent {dwelling}.
 'He{She} will call upon Me, and I will answer {her}. I will be with {her} in trouble. I will rescue {her} and and honor {her}. With a long life I will satisfy {her} and let {her} see My salvation.' 
Verses 4-10, 15-16

Now, about a month out of what I call "the war zone," I'm able to confidently put Maylin to bed at night with peace knowing she is safe and sound. And when the tremors of fear creep into my thoughts, which they sometimes still do, I'm able to pull on my arsenal of weapons from Psalm 91. I'm able to put my hand on her door and say a quick verse, or sit for a minute on the top stair giving my fear to God while reciting His truths. It's comforting to know that in the future, when Maylin goes to school, or sleeps at a friend's house, or starts driving, or takes a trip without me, or goes away to college, or gets married, I can always, always, always, no matter what my fear may be at the time, call upon God's Word. He is faithful. He is true. I can rest in Him.


  1. "An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain." --Proverbs 31:10-11

    I'm so proud that you are my excellent wife and the mother of my children. You are a great example of using God's word as a shield and sword. I love you very much.

    Ok I'm done being a sap (for now); just had to say this.

  2. Jana, I've had the same experiences -- I've been terrified that the unknown "something" would happen to Alice -- the most common fear was that someone or someTHING would try to harm her. I completely understand the crippling part, because there was one Sunday when Kyle was at church and I just had to hold my baby and pray over and over because I was so consumed by fear. And I KNEW that was the devil trying to hurt me and trying to harm my ability to care for Alice. Praying for her does help, and I love this psalm and the idea of saying it to her at night. You have such amazing ideas, and I have such wonderful, Godly friends!! =)