This is the story of what I learned following the day that my (then) 5 month old stopped breathing.
It was early in the morning, I was making a tea while my husband was still sleeping. Back in the days of having only one child, things were different…
As I waited for the water to boil, I had that sense that something wasn’t right. I left my kettle on the stove and bolted into my son’s nursery. My son wasn’t moving. He wasn’t breathing. He was gray. So I grabbed him out of the crib and begin to do infant CPR, like I had learned years before I ever even thought about having my own kids.
My son came back to life in my arms. We went to the hospital, and spent 10 days going through tests and recounting the events over and over again. There was no explanation for what had happened. It was not a seizure. Not a heart issue. Not reflux induced choking. What was worse than the feeling of having no “why” was the fact that no one believed me. There was a moment when I thought, “Did I imagine it?”
Then 2 months to the day later, it happened again.
I was alone again. My husband was at MBA class, and the crib movement monitor that I insisted we buy began chiming. Terrified, because my intuition told me the truth, I ran into the nursery again and experienced true Deja Vu. Again there was no one to witness it expect me.
Another hospital stay. More tests. Hours of telling the story…again. The difference? Our new pediatrician wouldn’t let the hospital discharge us this time without a heart and apnea monitor in tow.
The first night home, my (then) baby boy had 64 apneas. 64 insistences where he stopped breathing. He was quick diagnosed with central apnea (different than sleep apnea, it is caused by an underdeveloped brain stem).
My son had a monitor until he was almost 2 years old. And it went off all of the time. The beeping was meant to jar him so he would start breathing again. The doctors instructed me that if it didn’t work, we should “smack him lightly to startle him.” When I looked at them with eyes wide, they stared back until one said, “I’m serious.”
Two years later
To this day my firstborn (now a 7-year-old sports trivia savant) barely sleeps. The tiniest sound wakes him up, just like we trained him to do in those early months. It was sleep training, just in reverse.
When his little brother tried on his hand me down size 2T PJs a few years later, I noticed the holes cut in the fabric. I was very confused where the identically sized parallel holes came from-until I wasn’t.
I started sobbing when I realized we had cut them years earlier to allow the wires from the apnea machine a place to exit the zip-up footed onesie.
Something that had consumed my nightmares, worries, and very existence day in and day out turned into something I just survived.
I learned this
To always follow my intuition as a mother and believe in myself even when no one else does. Maybe especially when no one else does.
The truth is inside of me. When I became a mom, I was granted the gift of knowing my kids better than anyone else in the world. It’s just up to me whether I trust that inner voice or ignore it.
That day, I listened to that inner voice and saved my son’s life. Six years and two more kids later, I’ve never been prouder of anything else i’ve ever done in my life.