She Says… Still Shaking

The beginning of one of my worst nightmares came true two nights ago.

Benjamin was traveling. Owen was sleeping peacefully in his room. Schnitzel was curled up in a ball on my bedroom floor. All of a sudden, I was jolted awake by our alarm system blaring at 2:46am.

In the year that we’ve lived in our house, I’ve never heard the alarm go off on its own. Sure, I’ve forgotten to turn it off a couple of times and jumped out of my skin when it went off as I opened the door to let the dog out, but I’ve never felt that moment where your blood runs cold and you have to consider the fact that someone may have actually just broken a door or a window and may be in your house. RIGHT NOW.

Especially not while I was home “alone”.

We live in a very safe neighborhood and very close to our neighbors. Still, I always keep the doors locked, and it’s hard not to feel a little vulnerable when Benjamin is traveling. That’s the main reason I never write about it on the blog until he’s home. I am a very level-headed person most of the time, but the thought of someone stepping foot in my house while I am home with Owen unnerves me to no end. It’s my nightmare.

So the alarm is blaring. I leap out of bed (I don’t think I actually woke up until I was already running down the stairs to the wall unit to turn it off). I can’t see a darn thing without my glasses, but I just kept running. I know this is the wrong thing to do. Now. In retrospect. But I wasn’t thinking rationally at the time. I ran to turn it off and then the severity of what I had done hit me like a ton of bricks. Here I was, now downstairs from my sleeping baby. The alarm was quiet, as if nothing had happened at all. The house was dark except for a few night lights, and I couldn’t see very far in front of me because my stupid glasses were upstairs on my bedside table.

As quickly as I had gotten down there, I bolted back up, with Schnitzel following on my heels. I ripped the phone charger out of my phone and dialed Benjamin’s number. My whole body was shaking and my breathing was jagged as I stood outside Owen’s room, watching our front hall for any movement, ready to go in his nursery and lock the door at the first sign of an intruder.

Of course I know should have called 911 first. Now. In retrospect. But I just needed Benjamin. He picked up immediately and I can’t imagine what it must have felt like for him to receive this call. “The alarm just went off. I’m outside Owen’s room. We’re ok. What do I do?”.

More shaking. More breathing. My feet were glued to the floor outside of Owen’s room. I couldn’t move. Schnitzel stood in front of me, poised, watching with me. I knew at that moment that if someone had been in the house, Schnitzel would have been my first line of defense. He would have protected us.

Right at that moment the alarm company called Benjamin to see if this was a real emergency. As he switched lines to pick up the call, I croaked out, “Send the police. Send them now.”

He stayed on the phone with me while I shook and breathed some more, and in a matter of minutes (2? 3? an eternity? a second?) the police arrived. I walked, jelly-legged, downstairs to meet them. They checked out the basement (where the alarm was triggered) and the rest of the house and looked around outside. No evidence that anyone had been there or tried to break in, so they suggested it could have been a battery dying in our motion sensor or a system issue.

After all of that, a stupid alarm system issue. But still, I had no way of knowing that until after the fact.

And you can bet that no matter how much I reasoned with my rational side, I couldn’t stop imagining the alternative. That someone could have gotten in the house. That someone could have gotten to Owen’s room. To my room.

After the police left I called Benjamin back and tried to breathe normally again. My stomach wouldn’t unclench. I was more awake at 3am than I have ever been. I reset the alarm, minus the sensor that went off, in case it was a battery issue. I laid in bed, clutching my phone to my chest, eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling and listening to every little creak and croak and click and cringing with every one.

I stayed that way until 6am, when I finally felt the light of day taking my fear away. I nodded off just as Owen woke up, completely oblivious to the drama of the night.

Do you have a plan for what you would do if you thought there was an intruder in your house? Have you ever been in this situation? My plan was to run into Owen’s room and lock the door. Or run out the front door to our neighbor’s house. But what do you do when you have multiple kids? Thankfully, in this case, Owen slept through the whole event. But what would it have been like to have screaming kids? I can’t even begin to imagine.


12 responses to “She Says… Still Shaking

  1. Oh my god, how terrifying! My house was broken into once while I was asleep in bed (my room was right beside the front door) but whoever it was bolted as soon as the alarm went off. That was the last time I complained about listening to house or car alarms! Now when I’m home alone, and I hear something or get scared, I go around the house turning on all the lights. I read that most intruders are banking on you being out so if they know someone is home and up, they’ll go on their merry way. Maybe make a pact with one of your neighbours that if it happens to either of you it’s okay to call the other one? Safety in numbers and all that. Glad you’re all okay!

  2. We live in an apartment complex, and as of yet have no kids, but two very skittish cats. While we feel relatively safe in our little unit, we have had two fires in the past year – one that gutted the adjacent building to us and the other, fortunately much smaller, on the top floor of our building. Fire is a huge fear of mine (that, and bedbugs) and a very real issue in NYC, and while I don’t know the fear of a mom with a potential home intruder, I very much know the gut-wrenching fear from being woken up by an alarm in the middle of the night, not knowing what is going on.

  3. Ugh this scares the crap out of me. Greg travels a lot for work and (shh) we don’t have an alarm system. Similar to you we live in a safe neighborhood and doors and windows are locked every night. One thing I do know is that I will always have my cell phone on the charger and next to my bed.

    Also, though a totally different situation here is my story with a helpful hint at the end – I was home alone and someone rang our front door (no one uses the front door, there is a very visible side door that is clearly the main entrance to the house) at 8:15pm when I was just putting Lyle down — The doorbell rang and I was so confused by it since who comes to the front door at 8pm on a Wednesday?!? I stupidly got up while still holding L, walked down the stairs and just opened the door. The man was really strange looking — very bundled up in the early summer, a long beard, with a clipboard saying he was collecting signature for something. I said no, sorry and closed the door rather quickly – then I thought “now what?!” he knows I’m home alone! So I of course called Greg and he said to call the police immediately – my LONG story short – I quickly looked up the non emergency number and they had NO problem telling me (a) he was permitted/registered to be asking for signatures in my neighborhood that day, but they (b) agreed that he should not have been doing it so “late” — they came and drove by the house and found him and told him it was too late to be collecting signatures. So get your non-emergency police number stored in your phone and call them for ANYTHING. You are paying taxes for them to do their job!!

  4. Oh my goodness, Kate–how awful! Thank gosh you’re OK but I’d be petrified, too! I bet Benjamin felt awful not being able to be with you guys. 😦

  5. We don’t have an alarm. I grew up without an alarm. I’ve been through exactly what you experienced before – but with someone trying to get inside my house. We had a peeping tom around my home for years. I’d come home from college and would inevitably call the police because “he” would be there, too. In hindsight, I’m almost certain it was a neighbor who knew when my sister and I were in and out. It wasn’t imagined and it wasn’t a “little” thing. My parents and sister never made a big deal out of it but he tried to get in when I was home alone. I was robbed of any privacy I ever had then. My husband almost NEVER travels for his work but when he does I don’t stay home alone. I take my kids and we go. I HAVE used my car alarm as a house alarm before. I always kept my keys by my bed and set it off when I thought I heard someone outside of my house. Whew! Makes my skin crawl.

  6. Oh my gosh that is one of my biggest fears too! I’ve always been scared to stay home alone and my husband travels a decent amount for work. Sadly in our flat that we live in right now there is only one main entrance and one exit to our back yard and our babies room is right by the main entrance (although he isn’t here yet) we do have a plan for what I should do if this ever happens and luckily since we are on the second floor no one could get in through our windows.

    A few tips though. When I’m home alone I sleep with my cell phone, pepper spray, my car keys and my purse by the bed. I also try to leave a light on in the living room that faces the street, like someone mentioned above people are looking for empty homes so if there is an indication that there is someone home they will most likely leave right away. You could also leave a radio playing on one room of the house.

  7. Holy Shit, that truly is terrifying! Given the fact that I did in fact FAINT one night after bolting out of bed when Cameron screeched in terror in the middle of the night – that doesn’t bode well for me! You did the right thing getting the police to come. Benjamin must have been beside himself too!

  8. Wow, Kate, that is terrifying! I’m so glad that everything was okay.
    I have no plan and now I really think I need to!

  9. TERRIFYING! my house was robbed once and thank goodness i was at work. i could NOT IMAGINE someone breaking in at night. one time someone knocked on the front door at 2 AM and that was scary enough! [we pretended we werent home and then i convinced myself that if they thought we weren’t home, they’d break in, so we called 911; turns out they were drunk and had simply crashed their car up the street]. my plan was always to jump out the window and run but now that a kid is involved i have no idea! getting to his room would involve the burglar seeing me, no way around it! EEK!

  10. @Sarah, Ah! That is so scary! I feel so much safer with an alarm system, as I’m sure almost any intruder would run as soon as they hear it. I talked to our closest neighbor yesterday and we made that exact pact and he said to bang on his door or call anytime.

    @Emily, Fire is SO scary. I’ve never experienced it myself, but I can only imagine how terrifying that must have been, especially in an apartment complex.

    @Colleen C, This is a great idea! I definitely think I called Benjamin first because I wasn’t “sure” if I needed to call 911. I did, but there is always that fear of “is this really an emergency enough? Is this what 911 is for?” in the back of my head. Having the non-emergency numbers would have been REALLY helpful.

    @Lissa, He was so scared for us, and felt so helpless being so far away. We are happy he is home now!

    @Lauren, Ugh, that makes MY skin crawl just hearing the story. I’m so sorry. That is terrifying.

    @Stacy, My mom also suggested keeping pepper spray by my bed, which is a great idea. Car keys too!

    @Angie, I bet you would do whatever needed to be done in an emergency. It’s surprising how animalistic my response was, especially to protect Owen.

    @Megan, I know, I had never really thought about it before. Yesterday I ordered fire extinguishers and 2 rescue ladders for our upstairs bedrooms in case something more serious ever happens.

    @christy, Yes! I was so scared to leave my room, but I knew I had to be near Owen’s room. After the fact, Benjamin and I discussed if it would be better to run out the front door without Owen or to lock yourself in the room (upstairs) WITH Owen. I told him I don’t think I could physically leave the house, knowing he was still upstairs. It’s so scary to think about. I’m one of 4 kids and my parents were divorced for most of my childhood — that means my mom went to bed every night thinking about what she would do to gather her 4 kids by herself in the case of an emergency. It’s a wonder she ever slept at all!!!

  11. Omg, how scary. This is a big fear for me too and one of the reasons we moved out of our condo. (Ryan’s bedroom window was right off our front balcony and it was always in the back of my mind that if someone tried to break in, that was really the only way they could get in. Through his window. *faint*

    I’m so glad you’re all ok.

  12. Pingback: Chapter Excerpt: THEIBES HOUSE Book One of Keepers of the Ancient Tomes « Creative Musings of Ledia Runnels

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