Nobody told me about the hallucinations.

Well, hallucination is probably a strong word.

As a direct (and indirect) result of being in my first few weeks of fatherhood, I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with a baby in my arms. Only, it’s not. I’m actually holding a pillow, I just believe that it is a baby.

Never was this highlighted so starkly as a few nights ago. I was convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that a baby was resting on my forearm. Karen informed me that Bernard was actually in the cot, sleeping. I sleepily argued, no he is definitely here in front of me.

This went back and forth for a few iterations. Realising that we were getting nowhere, I performed further tests on the baby. Upon poking it in the forehead and feeling my finger sink into what felt like a bundle of feathers, I had to concede that the item that I was holding was, in fact, a pillow.

These moments of confusion occur on an almost nightly basis. They’ve even happened to Karen once or twice. But I’m starting to get wise to them now, and I can now catch myself quite quickly. Essentially by poking the baby in the forehead if it is dark.

It’s not a highly technical method, but it serves my purposes well. It is primarily suitable because the probability of the item in question being a baby, and not a pillow, is probably about 0.01. In Karen’s case, the probability of it being a baby is much higher – I believe that she has a much less invasive method of testing. Probably sniffing his arse or somesuch.

**UPDATE:** The following night’s hallucination was also amusing.

*Me:* What would you like me to do with this baby?

*Karen:* The baby is in the cot. Put that pillow down.

*Me:* Okay. What would you like me to do with this grobag?

*Karen:* That’s a pillow. Lie down and go back to sleep.

*Me:* Right you are.

9 replies on “Hallucination”

Hi Pete, I’ve never had hallucinations of that sort, but the worsty worst worst evah things I’ve ever experienced were the dreams in which my children die. I’ve had quite a few disturbing dreams of this kind since I became a dad, each time I wake up devastated and have to go to their bedrooms to check that my two boys are okay. Sometimes I wake up crying. Thanks to one particularly horrendous dream I refuse to go to a local park in case the dream actually comes true.
I hope that it’s just me that suffers this as I wouldn’t wish it on any parent.

I can imagine how upsetting that must be. Sadly, it’s probably too common, and happens to all parents whether you’d wish it upon them or not. It’s largely a by-product of our media, which likes to tell us when things go wrong but not when they go okay. As Reynolds points out here, in 2002 the armed police were called out 2,490 times in London, but because we only hear about it when someone gets shot, it’s too easy to get the impression that the armed police in London are trigger-happy. For this same reason, we think that public parks are hives of junkies, perverts, muggers and other assorted dangers. Admittedly some of them are, and it’s useful to know which ones, but for the most part we need to do something about our fears if we want to get on with our lives.

I don’t know what happens in this particularly horrendous dream of yours, but ultimately I guess you’re going to have to tell your boys about your fears so that they can learn to look after themselves.

I commented recently on Karen’s site about the dangers we were warned about that are inherent in sleeping with your newborn. True or not, the warnings had the effect of waking me with a start on numerous occasions with a chilling fear that I’d rolled over on top of Tom when, in fact, he was comfy in his cot. This naturally led to greater sleep deprivation, more tiredness and an even more addled brain.

Sleep is the key. Try to get loads. Particularly when you should be working.

[…] Bernard is starting to take an interest in things other than my breasts. He stares at faces and lights, and seems to be processing information all the time. His pre-smile smiles are starting to form, and he has a beautiful contented expression, which he wears when he’s fed, changed, and being played with. He doesn’t mind being put down in the cot or moses basket for short periods, although he hasn’t yet agreed that it’s okay to go to sleep there. This is still our main project, and all suggestions have been gratefully received and considered. I continue to be ambivalent about the co-sleeping; it’s nice, but I do sleep better when he is in the cot beside the bed. And it gives Pete hallucinations. […]

Hallucinations – yes:

Four years ago I once spent an entire night on the very edge of the bed in fear that I would crush my daughter as she slept. She was a light sleeper (if at all) so we brought her in with us one time. She kept rolling into my back in the depression my weight made in the bed. Every time felt her touch me I woke up startled and moved further to the edge, to which I clung as I tried to rest. I didn’t want to move or startle her and I barely slept a wink.

Seven hours later I watched the clock turn to 6:45 and got up to go to work, carefully so as not to disturb the sleeping child behind me. Which turned out to be a Teletubbie doll. My daughter was sound asleep a good two feet away in the middle of the bed.

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