The bathroom fan is on. I’m trying to simultaneously comb through my wet hair and apply face moisturizer. I’m in a hurry because it’s 7:00 am and my daughter will be awake at any moment. In fact, I think she is because I can hear her crying. Her bedroom shares a wall with the bathroom and the doorways are next to one another so I open the door softly as to not make additional noise.
I step into the dark hallway and hear…. nothing save the roar of the bathroom fan. I walk into my bedroom and check the video monitor – nothing, no crying, no whimpering, just her breath slow and deep as she continues to sleep.
I startle awake. The room is still dark, but I can hear my baby girl crying softly through the monitor. She is grumpy because she has woken up too much between sleep cycles and struggles a little to find her blankie in her crib and a comfortable position to restart her slumber. I turn the monitor down slightly, but watch her. I’ll give her 5 minutes to figure it out on her own. I pray she falls back asleep without my help.
I roll over to adjust the comforter over me and Matt and close my eyes for a moment. A few minutes later I hear her crying again, and flick on the monitor to see what she is doing. She is fast asleep on her belly, her little legs tucked under her. I close my eyes again, but hear her crying again. Again I check the monitor. Again, nothing.
I am alone in Target. This is a small miracle and I celebrate by buying a coffee at Starbucks. I leisurely walk through the aisles, shopping list in hand and compare prices. As I push my cart to the grocery section, I hear a child crying. It sounds like my own baby, so I walk faster to the sound. Although my head knows my child is at home with my husband, my heart hears my baby’s voice. I turn down the aisle and see, of course, that the child is not mine.
I can hear her high-pitched wail ringing in my ears for the rest of my time in the store.
Matt and I stand in the kitchen talking about our day as the laundry runs in the washer next to us. Our daughter, just out of sight in the adjacent living room, plays with a few toys, her little feet stomping back and forth across the hardwood floors. I hear her footsteps fade into the hallway and we continue our conversation. All of a sudden I hear crying. I ask Matt, “Is Brighton crying?” and he says he can’t hear anything. I run to the back of the house and find her sitting in her rocking chair, happily flipping through a board book.
This insanity is what I call phantom crying. Maybe it is the sound of a high pitched noise, or another child, or my fear, but I hear it everywhere I go. I am haunted by the ghost of the crying baby. Am I alone in this? Does anyone else hear the phantom crying?