My Frozen Baby Fantasy

I’ve worked for YEARS to grow as a person, to understand myself, my emotions, and my reactions to the things that happen to me. I know how to understand and express my emotions responsibly, resolve conflicts, and use positive redirection to help my child thrive. But that doesn’t make me perfect and it certainly doesn’t stop all the crazy thoughts my mind decides to think.

I think every parent fantasizes about harming his or her child at one point or another. If you say you haven’t, I don’t believe you for a minute. Maybe it’s just a fleeing thought of pinching them, or a long consideration about spanking them, “for their own good.” Perhaps it’s a thought about smothering their cries or a morbid image of tossing them out of a moving car. Of course we would never DO these things. But that doesn’t mean we don’t think about it.

When my daughter was just a few months old and I was deep in the thick of sleep deprivation I was trying to rock her to sleep one night and she was screaming her sweet little head off. She was dry and fed and swaddled comfortably but she was over tired and she couldn’t settle herself down. I was exhausted and drained and didn’t have another ounce of love to give, or so I thought.

I began to sing rock-a-bye baby. As I was singing I suddenly understood the appeal of the dark sentiment of the song. Imagining my screaming baby falling out of a tree was a way for me to focus the frustration forming in my mind without lashing out at the helpless little being I was holding.

So I took it one step further. I began to sing my own words, expressing a little bit of my angst by singing about how and why she should stop crying and go the f to sleep. And then it happened. I imagined getting up, walking out of the room, taking my little baby out the front door of our house, putting her into the snow and leaving her there. I thought about how long it would take for her cries to cease and I relished the imaginary peace of a frozen sleeping baby that would never awake and cry again.

And then I thought, “WHOA! I just imagined killing my baby. And I liked it. And now I’m sort of horrified. But I also understand that it was just the fantasy of a sleep-deprived mind.”

Before that moment there was no way I could understand how anyone could harm a baby. And I still can’t really. I would never harm my child. But I do understand the urge to shut her up one way or another, especially when I’m drained and sleep deprived myself.

It’s scary to write this and put it on the Internet for all to see. It feels like an incredibly vulnerable thing to admit. I’m worried that someone will take my words and twist them and try to take my baby away. But I also feel brave and I trust that most of you will understand. And I think there might be someone out there who was thinking that there are “perfect” parents who exist who never have hurtful thoughts or feelings toward their children. And I want that struggling single mom or that angry dad to know they’re not alone and NOBODY is a perfect parent. Even the best parents have dark thoughts and feelings sometimes.

I guess I wrote all this down just to remind you that we’re all human and we’re all just doing the best we can with what we’ve got. Sometimes we do things exactly the way we wanted to. Other times, the best we can do is to rock our sweet babies to sleep while imagining their demise.

Have you ever had the kinds of dark thoughts I’ve described here? I would love to know that I’m not the only one! Please share your story with us in the comments below.

And, if you have these kinds of dark thoughts frequently, please seek professional help. Postpartum depression can be a serious condition that can worsen over time without support. Asking for help is the best thing you can do for yourself and for your child if these kinds of hurtful or scary thoughts keep popping up and you’re not sure what to do about them. Just remember, you are not alone and it’s OK to ask for help. If you need immediate help, call 1-800-SUICIDE any time of day or night.

And have a good week. Love, Shelly

4 comments
Dano M.
Dano M.

Totally resonate with this.  I have been the primary caregiving and night time sleep watchman for our family for both our two kids.  My fantasies. were a bit more swift and violent than the snow baby idea, and would ultimately involve more clean up (maybe it's a guy thing).

 

With my first, one of my biggest moments was wanting to shove my finger down her little throat and strangle her while smashing her against the wall.  It all happened in a flash, amazing what the mind can come up with on the spot.  To prevent this possible future from happening I turned around, screamed, and hit the floor and immediately broke my hand.  "Am I a homicidal maniac?" and thoughts of that ilk were running through my mind.  Now I had this broken hand, so I do you say when everybody asks the obvious: "How'd you do that?"

 

Thought after the first the second would be no problem, but only somewhat less so, different in very real, very hard, new ways.  Notthing physically damaging but still fantasies of wanton destruction with lots of messy cleanup after coming off of my berzerker rage and sleeping for 3 weeks straight.

 

Like you, I was horrified and had a lot of negative self judgement around these things.  After breaking my hand I reached out to some friends totally scared and full of shame.  When I told them what happened they knew exactly what I was talking about.  It was such a HUGE relief.  The more I talked to people the more I burned through my own personal demons who I am and how things should be, and the more I realized that I wasn't alone.

 

I love this post, this meme needs to get out there.  I know a lot of parents, myself included, that have felt isolated and alone in their parenting struggles.  Since I broke my hand I've had several conversations where I've been able to coax reluctant parents to tell their horrid tales.  Cathartic for the both of us whether they were reluctant to share or if they were at the point they could laugh about it.

ConnectedCoach
ConnectedCoach

Shelly,

 

Your admission is not only brave, but very inspiring.  I think we have all been brought up with the idea that it's better to sweep your dark side under the carpet and pretend it doesn't exist... only to have it govern much of our thoughts and actions from a more unconscious arena.

 

I remember watching a segment of Oprah where four mothers who had actually killed their babies (one of them included placing the baby in the freezer) while I was pregnant and I was horrified... however, when I had my first son, I alternated between thoughts of harming him and harming myself.  I was too ashamed to seek help, and went for a year with this depression, and it really hurt a lot of things around me.  I definitely had very vivid thoughts, and would transfer that aggression onto my husband and play it out in the marital arena.  However, on my son's first birthday, I suddenly woke up feeling normal and happy again...just like that.

 

Thank you for sharing your comment.... today I'm the most grateful mother of two beautiful children, and work as a certified parent coach, helping other new mothers and mothers of older children understand that it is not only OK to acknowledge any unpleasant or disturbing thoughts, but it is so important to embrace them as equally as the positive pleasant ones, as that helps one move on after conquering that particular feeling...

 

 

giovanna hopkins
giovanna hopkins

Psssh absolutely happened to me. I was so sleep deprived... my little guy never napped more than 3-4 20 minute naps, and only if I was wearing him while walking briskly and while shushing loudly. He woke every hour at night, not just to eat, but to scream. I remember wishing he would just die of SIDS in his sleep, so I could wake up and this nightmare of a life would be over. Not a proud moment, but the shock of thinking such a thing prompted me to DEMAND the help I had been too depressed to ask for. 

AwakeShelly
AwakeShelly moderator

 @giovanna hopkins Oh, I am loving you so much right now. THANK YOU for sharing this. I want more parents to realize that it's nothing to be ashamed of and it's more important to get the help they need than to keep these thoughts a secret. Thanks for jumping into the deep end with me! I appreciate you, Shelly