Like a lot of Kiwis last night, I woke up at 12.02am. The house was groaning, creaking and rattling, but quietly. I could hear the water in Sheldon’s tank sloshing around and his ornaments hitting the glass almost rhythmically. I lay in bed, watching the wardrobe door swing back and forth while I was jolted around in bed.
I’ve lain in bed throughout countless earthquakes over the last five years in multiple different houses and for the most part they were followed by a rush of adrenaline, a quick check of Facebook and Geonet to satisfy my curiosity, followed by drifting off back to sleep.
Last night was different.
Last nights quake lasted for ages, over two minutes, but it felt like much longer. I actually didn’t think it was going to stop for a while. It hit at the end of a stressful week when I’d lost my shit several times so I was exhausted. And this time, there was a bassinet at the end of the bed containing a tiny human who relies on me for everything.
I was petrified.
While the quake was going on I woke Zombie up. I was freaking out and needed to not be alone. I thought I was trying to get out of bed to check on Bubble, but looking back I’m pretty sure I was frozen in place, getting more and more fearful with each shake. After the quake finally ended, I checked on Bubble who was sound asleep, blissfully unaware that anything had happened. Zombie went back to sleep, I checked up on family and friends then spent the next three hours in a constant state of alert.
Facebook was going nuts and after the tsunami warnings popped and I saw some friends posting statuses about being evacuated from their houses, I let Anxiety that we would also need to evacuate, despite the fact that our house was well into the safe zone.
I wanted to wake Zombie again. I knew he would be able to calm me down, but I also didn’t want to wake him, so I didn’t, spending the rest of the night tossing and turning, drifting in and out of sleep and getting up to check on Bubble every time I couldn’t hear him breathing.
The quake was centered about an hour or so away from Christchurch near Hanmer Springs and Cheviot. It was upgraded and downgraded a few times, but finally settled at 7.5 at a depth of 15km. It was felt over the entire country and caused wide spread damage to areas on both islands. By 2.10pm, 14 hours later, there had been 382 aftershocks.
I’m not saying that I’ve never been scared during an earthquake before, but not like this. All I could think about was my son and what might happen to him. He was safe, there was nothing that could fall on him and Zombie and I were right there, but these are things I am only realizing now. In the heat of the moment I was paralyzed in fear and that scares me.
I was very lucky. I had no damage, I was unhurt, I got to stay in my house and I knew that my friends and family were safe relatively quickly because of Facebooks Safety Check, which I think is such an excellent feature for these types of events.
But today I learned that no matter the level of danger, it is so much scarier for me now that I’m a mother and I’m guessing that fear will never go away.
Smiles and Sunshine