She spent a sleepless night sharing the photo with family, friends and parenting groups on Facebook, telling herself there “must be some kind of logical explanation — but what is it?”
The next morning, she got the answer: the mattress label.
The story would soon spread quickly across Facebook, racking up almost 500,000 reactions and 300,000 shares. For many, it was a relatable story of parenting and the fears and absurdities that come along the way.
But, as is often the case in viral stories, others took the opportunity to criticize Cibuls. Among the laughing emoji, she was disheartened to see a few comments bashing her parenting abilities.
“I was so embarrassed,” a laughing Cibuls told The Washington Post. “I mean, I was relieved, but I was so embarrassed that I was debating whether I should even update all the ladies from my mom group.”
In the end, she decided to do so anyway — mostly because her fellow mothers had been so invested in solving the mystery.
It isn’t exactly unusual for a parent to think they see paranormal activity on a baby monitor. Stories abound of strange splotches or creaking doors showing up on the tiny screens and terrifying moms and dads, according to a Wall Street Journal story on the phenomenon. Much of it can be explained away as the cameras picking up on “points of movement, such as lights, shadows or blowing curtains,” the newspaper reported.
After confirming that her baby was alone in his crib, Cibuls racked her mind for an explanation. Her husband, who was still at work, chimed in — as did her mom and best friend. Could it be a patch of drool? Another baby monitor feed somehow getting looped in?
She kept the monitor in front of her face all night. Despite herself, she kept opening her eyes over and over again to make sure the “ghost baby” wasn’t moving.
“The more I looked at it, the more I was thinking I was tricking myself into believing that it’s something,” Cibuls said. “So I posted it in one of my mom groups, and I said something like, ‘Hey, do you guys see the baby? It’s really creeping me out,’ because I wanted to know if I was going crazy.”
They all “got a good laugh” the next morning when she figured out the explanation. Normally, the photo of the baby on the mattress label isn’t visible. It appeared on the baby monitor Friday night because of some combination of the camera’s night vision and Cibuls’s husband forgetting to put on the mattress cover after changing the sheets. (“I could kill him!” she joked on Facebook.)
Just for the record, Cibuls said: “If I really thought our child was in danger, I wouldn’t have left him in there.”
Even after the cause was revealed, the image of the ghostly baby is creepy enough that it nearly spooked the family a second time.
“I was watching the monitor again last night, and I was like, oh my gosh, what is that?” Cibuls said. “But this time, obviously, I knew what it was.”