Parenting means having the c*@p scared out of you

24 Nov

Back in my babysitting heydey (that would be the late 80s to mid 90s) the wisdom of the time was to put baby to sleep on her stomach.  Possibly this was partly because many babies sleep more soundly that way, but I seem to remember learning it was so the baby wouldn’t choke on her own vomit if she were to throw up.

(Charming, I know.  I really know how to start a post, don’t I?)

A couple of days ago, I put Halia down for a nap in her crib for the first time.  I put her down when she was sleepy, but not asleep yet.  She fell asleep all on her own.  I was excited!  Maybe sleep training will be easier this time!  (Aside: I’m so going to look back on this post and laugh bitterly.  Such hubris.)  I had put her down on her back because that’s what we’re told to do now to reduce the risk of SIDS.  She had a great nap for a few hours, no problem.

It went so well that when I was getting reading for bed that evening, I put Halia down in the cradle we have next to our bed.  She has yet to spend any time in there sleeping because she’s been in bed with us every night.  I thought it would be a good night to try her in there instead, and I’d be able to sleep more comfortably.

That experiment lasted about 63 seconds.

I was just getting into my PJs when I heard the unmistakable blorping sound of a baby throwing up.  It took me a few seconds to get to her and help her sit up, whereupon she blorped up a little more curdled milk.  Then she screamed in anger.  I put her to my shoulder to pat her back and calm her.  There’d be a few seconds of silence and struggling, then another loud scream.  After half a minute I started freaking out — just a little — because she was turning very red and I could see that she wasn’t breathing between screams.  I mean, clearly, air was getting in because one needs to have air in order to scream.  But she wasn’t breathing in through her nose, which was distressing because babies are obligate nose breathers.  I could see her trying to breathe and not being able to.

Michael took her from me and had her face-down on his hand, patting her back, as she continued to scream every five seconds or so, struggling to breathe in between.  I wondered if I should call an ambulance because she seemed to be having such a lot of trouble.  (And I’ve had enough of ambulances, believe me!)  Michael suggested I call Heather.

It was 11 p.m., much later than I would normally call someone, but Heather was glad I’d called.  She was very calm and reasurring.  “She’s mad right now,” said Heather.  “It feels pretty awful.  But it will clear out.  Just flip her over on your hand and rub up her spine.  It’ll all come out of her nose in a minute.  And then you can nurse her to help her get the gunk out of her throat.  She’ll be fine.”

It took about 10 or 15 minutes, I think (but perhaps it just felt that long).  All the while we could hear Halia’s nose gradually clearing. She’d breathe in a rattly, wet breath, then scream again.  Finally, she coughed up a little ball of mucousy spit and — finally! —  she could breathe freely.  She was asleep.  I tried nursing her (Jade used to nurse in her sleep) but I guess she needed sleep more than anything else.  She slept face-down on my chest the rest of the night; I was way too freaked out to try putting her down on her back again.

I guess we can always try to get her to sleep on her side…


3 Responses to “Parenting means having the c*@p scared out of you”

  1. Jenny November 25, 2008 at 4:20 am #

    They have those wedges that keep the baby on their side. I had one for Isaiah, over 9 years ago.
    Naomi went straight to sleeping in her own crib, which you’d think would have let me sleep better. It just kept me up all night running to her room to lick my finger and stick it under her nostril to make sure she was breathing.
    Seems like they change the rules all the time! Sleep on stomach, sleep on side no lay them flat on their back. I forgot not to burp breastfed babies after Naomi was born and kept patting her back and wondering why she spit up all the time! DUH! I shouldn’t have had my kids so far apart!

  2. Asheya November 25, 2008 at 1:36 pm #

    Scary! It’s funny how even though this is the second time around, we still haven’t experienced it all!

    I remember something similar happened to Eowyn, although she was a bit older. I was exhausted from a long day of parenting, and put her to sleep in the bed. I heard her wake up in the monitor, and start fussing and then crying. I thought Eric was going to get her (maybe hoped is the better word!), and so didn’t go in right away. In any case, Eric rushed in not too long after and discovered that she had spit up all over herself, lying face up of course. Poor girl.

    I sleep in bed with her all night, unless she goes to sleep first, then she spends that time without me. I try to leave her on her side when she is sleeping by herself, with a blanket wedged in to hold her up. When we sleep together she is always nestled into my side, lying on her side. I find it the most comfortable way to sleep. It’s so funny because she used to always nurse and then stay sleeping facing me. Now she nurses and then turns to face the other way! I don’t know why.

  3. shannon maccuaig November 25, 2008 at 5:20 pm #

    wow! that’s quite the story! thought you might be interested in this article as to the cause of SIDS and how it is successfully prevented in New Zealand!

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