Saturday, November 17, 2007

Phantom babies

I had the weirdest thing happen.

All four kids were up eating breakfast. Ingram was playing in his Johnny Jump Up, which he has finally come to enjoy (yippee for baby parkers!

Suddenly I heard a piercing baby cry come over my baby monitor. I looked around - one, two, three, four, yes, all here - and there it went again. None of mine. We had crossed frequencies with someone else in the neighborhood!

The cry came again. I held it up to my ear and even though the reception was fuzzy, my mommy powers could discern that a daddy somewhere was arguing with a toddler about what was for breakfast. Soon the mom came to referee. Unfortunately, I couldn't quite distinguish most of the words. It was just enough so my nosiness was teased and then...unsatiated.

In four years, I had yet to experience this until now. It happened to Walker when Shepherd was very new, which got his imagination to work. He used to lie in the dark with me and say things like "What if you heard a voice say hush little baby, shhh over the monitor right now??" Since my inevitable response was "That is SO NOT funny" and a pillow whack, he poured his twisted mind into a very twisted little screenplay that he and a friend are now producing.

It makes me wonder what people have overheard from my house. Yikes.

I hope this is an isolated incident as I hear enough phantom baby cries as it is. The only way I can block them out is to sleep with earplugs, and even that does not always work. Especially if I am trying to nap during the day, I will get up because I am absolutely positive that I heard a cry or a "Mommmmmy" coming from somewhere in the house. I investigate and, nada, so I return to bed very grumpy. Like I don't get awaken enough with four kids, now I got an invisible family whining at me.

It was so bad after Maggie was born I seriously began to wonder if I was losing my mind. Fortunately an article came out that week in our local paper which explained the Phantom Baby Cry phenomena. Turns out it is the same as Phantom Phone Ring Phenomena, which is loosely described here.

Basically, your brain is tuned in to high alert for certain sounds, the phone being one of them, and once you become a mom, a baby cry (and this is a moms only thing, believe you me. Dads really are sleeping right through it.) Due to intelligent designers at the phone company and in Heaven, these sounds are in a higher decibel range that causes your brain to react more readily and if necessary, wake you up. The problem is that your brain gets a little paranoid I guess and will turn almost any sound in that decibel range into the sound that is the most important. That's why you think you hear the phone ring when you are blow drying your hair, and why almost any sound in the world will become a child's cry. (For me, the dishwasher was the worst.) So, if you are a new mom and your ears tell you your baby is crying in the kitchen your eyes say he is perfectly happy in your arms - you're not nuts. Well, you still might be nuts, but at least you're not hearing voices.

It's just one more way that becoming a mom changes everything.


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