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.