When All Is Quiet On The Breathing Front

So I was sitting down, trying to figure out what I wanted to say to start this post when Red came up to inform me that Ivy was fitting perfectly in the 12 month pajama onesies he had bought for her. WHAT THE WHAT. It’s so weird to realize this baby has already gotten so big. In my head it still feels like she was born maybe… two, three weeks ago tops. But nope! Here we are, being all gigantic and fitting into clothes as if she were already a year old as opposed to the seven month little upstart that she is.

I had wanted to get on here to share a “fun” fact that I happened to learn in the most terrifying of ways. See, we do co-sleeping, something I never really anticipated doing or loving but here we are. My body has adjusted well and when I need to shift about in my sleep into a new position I automatically wake up and arrange the two of us carefully.

I have a small habit of checking Ivy’s breathing when I do this. It’s not like, a real paranoia or anything but it’s a nice reassurance to put my hand on her little belly and feel the soft rhythmic movement of her breathing. So a few nights ago when I woke up to shift, I instinctively put my hand on her tummy without giving it much thought. But instead of the soft rise and fall of her chest I felt nothing.

Nothing. at. all.

I sort of told myself that it was probably fine, I had just caught her as she finished exhaling. I kept my hand on her tummy and waited to feel for her inevitable intake of a new breath.

And waited.

And waited.

I felt panic and bile rise in my throat as all pretense of calm motherly instinct flew out the window and I grabbed Ivy squarely by the shoulders and shook her as gently as a panicking mother can when she doesn’t feel her child breathing.

Ivy woke up almost instantly and regarded me as only a grumpy, sleepy baby can. She casually turned to me and latched back onto my breast to go back to sleep. I was shaking and breathing hard for a while. Noticing Matt was still asleep I pulled out my phone and dialed the nurse advice-line at our pediatrician’s. I needed to know if Ivy was okay.

The nurse I spoke to was very kind and understanding. She had me check Ivy’s color and asked me a few general questions about how we were sleeping and potential hazards. Blanket or pillow over her face? No. Blue in her lips, fingers or toes? No. Breathing fine and acting normal? Yes.

Finally the nurse told me that sometimes when babies are in the deepest part of their sleep cycle they can just not breathe for a little while. Apparently some newborns can go up to 15 seconds between breaths.* As long as Ivy didn’t have blue in her lips or extremities then she was fine. Or, she added, if I tried waking her up and couldn’t get her to stir, that was also a bad sign. Slapping the bottoms of her feet is apparently the most effective way to wake a rousing baby and if she didn’t wake up from that, call an ambulance. But everything sounded fine and would probably be okay though I was more than welcome to schedule an appointment with her pediatrician come morning.

Otherwise, she said, try to get some sleep and do your best not to worry.

Ivy slept just fine though I spent at least three hours attempting to fall back asleep and failing miserably. I knew she was probably fine but that moment of horror at feeling her not breathe was seared into my brain and I couldn’t shake it. I read comics on my tablet and checked Ivy’s breathing every few seconds or so.

We did end up taking her in just to make sure nothing was up and our pediatrician said she was in ship shape. So I guess the whole incident was just an unfortunate timing moment on my part and nothing more. I still keep thinking about what would have happened if she hadn’t woken up, if we’d have had to call an ambulance, if, if, if.

It can be hard to shut those horrible little possibilities up. It’s so frustrating, as you get older, to learn about how little control you have over so many things in life. You take the steps you can take, make the best decisions possible and pray you’re not one of the unlucky ones. It’s a hard thing to accept and I continue to feel blessed by the luck I’ve had so far.

*This is just what she told me. Please don’t take anything written here as medical advice; if you have any questions or problems with anything to do with your baby, call a medical professional. My situation could be completely different than yours so it’s always better to check with someone who actually knows what they’re talking about.


3 thoughts on “When All Is Quiet On The Breathing Front

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