Christina L. Moreland
Among the millions of things on the list of “Things No One Tells You When You Have a Baby” is the Phantom Cries you’ll hear when your baby or child is completely silent.
Let me back up a little bit… My sons are now 7 and 3, and I admit I’ll probably have them on a monitor until they are 18 and about to move out for college. When Ashton was a newborn, his constant coos, gurgles and twitching kept this Super Mom on Spidey-Mom alert. I couldn’t sleep near him, even when we moved the bassinet away from the bed. At the time we moved him a mere 30 feet away to his bedroom and put him on a monitor on the lowest setting. I slept much better knowing I could hear him when I needed to, but wouldn’t wake up at the insignificant repositioning during his infancy.
Fast forward four years to Luke, the youngest. Oh, that darling, lovable, adorable child who keeps me laughing, always engages my cuddles, is almost always smiling… and keeps me going up and down stairs in the middle of the night. At least I get in good cardio… The kid didn’t sleep through the night until he turned 3. Now, even when he isn’t crying, I wake up in a panic hearing him cry. I’ve even jumped out of bed throwing on clothes and bolted out the door headed to his room. I look over at my husband in a perfect slumber wondering how in the world he’s not hearing this, too. Then I realize, there’s no sound coming from the monitor and Luke in fact isn’t crying at all. He’s in a perfect sleep state, too. I’m the only psycho hearing phantom cries at night from my boys who are now old enough to be potty-trained and in school full time. And I often ask myself, WHY does this happen? Am I normal?
Finally, my curiosity got the better of me and I did a little research, and thankfully found out, YES, this is normal. I had been calling this frequent wake up problem “Ghost Cries” — my own vocabulary word for this experience — but popular parenting blogs on Baby Center and Pregnancy and Baby call them “Phantom Cries.”
Most mothers who experience this are new moms with babies and it’s typically prompted by a loud noise or restricted hearing, for example, if you’re in the shower and can’t hear the baby or while vacuuming, etc. I can only hope that I’ll “grow out” of this problem, because for me, it persists, and my youngest turns 4 in a few months. But it is a normal experience, one I had no clue about until I personally experienced and created my own name for it.
Maternity forums all confirm this as being a normal experience, although I’ll admit I haven’t seen any mothers confess it’s happened to them for as long as it’s happened to me. Chalk it up to hormones (mine have leveled out at this point, thank God!), sleep deprivation (can still relate to that one!), new mom maternal instincts or restrictive hearing, as mentioned earlier, and you have one active, tired, stressed out Mama!
The single biggest secret trick that has helped me cope with these “Ghost cries” or “Phantom Cries,” or whatever you want to call them… is for me to keep my boys on a monitor where I can hear them clearly if they need me. My husband likes to sleep with a little fan in the background as white noise, and so I’m not able to hear anything else going on in the house unless it’s picked up by or tied to the monitor, other than the dog barking, or the smoke detector or house alarm. Things that are intensely loud are still audible for me, but not my boys’ cries when they have their doors closed.
For most mothers, the phantom cries begin when the baby is a newborn and they fear the baby is being suffocated or can’t turn, and then it continues for weeks or even months afterward. It’s a common sensation that begins when our maternal instincts are awakened. It’s interesting how most mothers report this during the earliest stages of Motherhood, and yet my experience has continued… perhaps it’s because my boys are four years apart and presumably when we were at the stage for Ashton to sleep through the night fully potty-trained on a regular basis, I was pregnant with the second one. As soon as he was born, the phantom cries began all over again and have continued to now where we are trying to wean him off of Pull-Ups at night. Now he generally wakes up at night to go potty (and needs my help) or when he’s sick and can’t sleep.
I’m sure there are all sorts of sensible reasons why this sensation has continued for me, but it’s exhausting, and I can relate to all moms who experience this, even new mothers who don’t know that what they’re going through is normal. I imagine there are more who experience it and don’t talk about it much.
So there you have it, why I’ll keep my kids on a monitor until they are college-bound. And also, why “Phantom Cries” are totally normal.
Not sure I am normal though. 🙂 But that’s an entirely separate post, ha! 🙂
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Christina Moreland, author of Secrets of the Super Moms and Fit Mom Secrets, is the Super Mom of a bright, spunky nine-year-old and sweet and sensitive five-year-old. She is passionate about fitness and all sorts of parenting and childcare topics. Her goal with this column is to share fun and interesting information to help other parents create healthy homes. Follow Christina’s Secrets of the Super Moms page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SecretsOfTheSuperMom. You can also follow her on Twitter @supermombook or visit her YouTube Channel at https://www.youtube.com/SecretsOfTheSuperMom.