To This Mama, SIDS is Terrifying

When I was in high school, college, maybe even beyond–I wasn’t sure I’d ever want to be married or have children. I had big, fancy, career-driven plans and I viewed anything and everyone that could possibly hinder them with suspicion. Fast forward enough years that I don’t want to actually tell anyone how many–and here I am a SAHM to a toddler, moving around the country in support of my husband’s Naval career. We’d been married a couple of years when talk turned to babies. We quickly found out that, due to a recently diagnosed chronic illness, we would be part of the #1In8 who faced the challenges associated with infertility.

Once again, I couldn’t see myself having a baby–although this time for very different reasons.

After lots of pills, shots, doctor’s visits and, most of all–TIME, I was pregnant with Mac. Still, I was High Risk and scared of getting ahead of myself. I was so convinced it wasn’t in the cards for me to deliver that we didn’t tell anyone his gender, or name; I wouldn’t even let myself buy him anything until after the viability date. When my Doctor recognized the signs of early labor at seven months and I was put on bed rest, I just took it as further confirmation that It Ain’t Gonna Happen.

Of course, it did. And now I’m a proud #BoyMom to a smart, funny, handsome 16-month-old with the quickest smile you’ve seen in your life. Who I still obsessively worry about Every. Single. Damn. Night. Starting at 6:30pm (when my husband is giving him his bath, and I’m getting his “sleep stuff” ready for that oh-my-god-it’s-finally-here-crack-open-the-wine 7pm bedtime) until my crying, bouncing, human alarm clock goes off 11 hours later. I am obsessing over whether he’s still breathing in his crib.

At almost a year and a half of age, he’s still zipped into a sleep sack nightly–no cuddly blankets or sweet stuffed animals in this boy’s crib. I continue to watch his every move on the video monitor, unconsciously waking myself up to go in and physically check on him when he goes more than three hours or so without stirring (although that last little bit of crazy doesn’t happen as often as you’d think- he’s a terrible sleeper, much like his Mama, so we usually don’t have more than one of these nights a week).

In fact, just about the only concession I’ve made to my paralyzing fear of SIDS–now considered SUDC, as Mac is over one, was to finally abandon his Snuza at fourteen months, after my husband sent me more than a few hint-hint emails about his risk of SIDS having decreased around eight months prior (not that I didn’t know my stats–part of me just still refused to believe I was going to be lucky enough get to “keep” this baby). Also, because fourteen-month-old babies have a nasty habit of removing their own Snuzas, leading to false alarms almost as terrifying as the real deal. (A Snuza is a portable breathing alarm that attaches to a baby’s diaper, by the way, in case you’re not up on your crazy…)

A Snuza Monitor, hard at work detecting this little one's breathing and movement...

A Snuza Monitor, hard at work detecting this little one’s breathing and movement…

My family thinks I’m nuts. My husband, my mother, my sister–a good portion of my friends–think I am totally bat-you-know-what crazy for treating my healthy, medically-sound toddler this way. For still being up at night, all these months later, anxiety through the roof because the kid rolled onto his stomach, hand over his face.

My family also wasn’t here for the first five months of my son’s life (Husband included; he was deployed). I was alone in Jacksonville with a newborn who was so small, so scary, and solely my responsibility. Meaning that, if anything should happen to him, IT WAS MY FAULT. During the day, I could stay awake. I could stare at him from 7:30am until 7pm and know he was okay, safe on my watch. Nighttime, though, that was another story.

Mac in the Snuggle Nest, sleeping way better than mom. (Why, WHY must you try so hard to smash your face into the sides, child?!)

Mac in the Snuggle Nest, sleeping way better than mom. (Why, WHY must you try so hard to smash your face into the sides, child?!)

At first, I kept Baby Dubs swaddled in his Rock N Play, just an arm’s reach from my bed. I woke up obsessively to be sure the swaddle hadn’t come loose around his face, that he hadn’t somehow twisted his smushy little face into the padded sides. So we switched to a Snuggle Nest, which allowed him to sleep right ON the bed, beside his paranoid mother. I woke up obsessively to be sure he wasn’t close to being pushed off the bed’s side, or under me–or that he hadn’t somehow twisted his smushy little face into the padded sides of this contraption, either. Basically, it’s a miracle the kid ever got moved to his crib, anyway–Snuza, video monitor, Angel Care monitor and all–and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wait for Derek to be back stateside to do it. Like I said, if anything happened in the meantime, IT WAS MY FAULT.

Now, we have another baby on the way–and I’m not even through worrying about the one I already tuck in at night. Will I be a paranoid wreck, again? Yes. Will I still lose sleep? Absolutely. Do I fully realize that I’m maaaaybe just the tiniest bit ridiculous, how low our odds are for tragedy to strike, and how to reduce what risks ARE there? Yep. So, Family and Friends, you can continue to think I’m nuts for another two years, or so, while I take care of my Tinys the best way I know how.

FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN REDUCE YOUR CHILD’S RISK OF SIDS HERE.

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11 Responses to To This Mama, SIDS is Terrifying

  1. Heather Knight Oct 26, 2015 at 9:56 am #

    I was this way until someone told me about Babesafe mattress covers. Invented by a scientist and doctor 10 years ago and have a 100% success, no SIDS rate. The theory is that SIDS is from the offgassing from the flame retardant chemicals in mattresses and gets worse with moisture – all of this makes sense when you realize the American advice is to put babies on their backs with faces away from mattresses, with a fan in the room, and thst SIDS rates increase with siblings (because now the mattress you’re reusing has gone through two kids and their pee/drool/sweat. I was still a nervous mom and used the Angelcare and all-but knowing the stats and research on that mattress cover really helped my mind relax some.

  2. GM Oct 31, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

    I can relate! I have a BabySafe Crib
    Size mattress cover I would love to mail you if you email me an address (business or PO Box great)! I ordered it from New Zealand after my childbirth instructor recommended it. Zero SIDS deaths (cot deaths they call them) in New Zealand by allowing the off gassing to occur beneath the mattress. It is adjustable (similar to a large freezer size ziploc with a hole on the bottom.
    Feel free to email me if you are interested or have questions!

  3. Elizabeth Nov 1, 2015 at 12:15 am #

    I am glad that makes you feel better, but SIDS has been around longer than flame proof mattresses. You have to learn to just trust and let it go. You have no control. And if your are that obsessed, you might need to talk to a professional. Parenting is stressful, but…

  4. Cindy Nov 11, 2015 at 12:41 pm #

    And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful!
    Colossians 3:15

  5. Randi Nov 11, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

    You should try an Owlet with the new baby. It’s a new product that they wear on their foot and it tracks their heart rate and oxygen saturation levels using the same technology that is used in NICU (which is basically just a red light that shines on their foot). I find it much easier and less obtrusive to use than the snuza and it is the only thing that has let me sleep since bringing home our preemie son from the NICU a month ago. Ironically we found it in an article about how you shouldn’t obsessively track data in your child but we love it!

  6. Katie Nov 11, 2015 at 4:35 pm #

    Check out the owlet sock. It is amazing and a game changer. It is a sock that monitors the babies pulse and O2 saturation all night. Bluetooths it to your phone and alarms if the numbers are out of the norm. Love mine!

  7. Annie Feb 2, 2016 at 10:36 am #

    Oh I had to comment even though I’m very late to the game but I couldn’t agree more I’m further behind n the mummy game. My little one is only 10wks but I haven’t had a single decent sleep nap or snooze in no small part to the same fear you have! I think it is in part that despite following these “rules” it’s still unexplained and I feel it can strike at any time so I agree with you fully and I think I’ll be looking into the Owlet widget mentioned above. Thank you for helping me feel a little less insane and for the tip commenters!!! Xx

    • Emily Conroy Apr 16, 2016 at 4:47 pm #

      What you’re describing here may be a part of a larger problem called Post Partum anxiety. I urge you to talk to your health care provider if this has continued affecting your sleep. I had issues with this, and SIDS was one of my major triggers.

  8. Shonna Mar 1, 2016 at 1:54 am #

    Angelcare monitor was my saving grace… I never would have made it without it after my Daughter had a bad reflux/choking episode when she was 3 weeks old. I’m a litype shamed to say that she slept on it until she about 4 years old. It quit being a breathing monitor and started just letting me know if she got out of bed at night. The only reason we stopped using it was she finally upgraded to a twin bed because we needed her crib for her new baby brother. Someone already gifted is a new angelcare monitor 🙂

  9. Emily Conroy Apr 16, 2016 at 4:57 pm #

    Hi Erin! I see that you posted this a while ago, but I’m just coming across it. While I did not have any fertility issues, after a miscarriage followed quickly by a (thankfully) healthy pregnancy and baby I shared many of your fears. The feeling that I wasn’t going to get to keep my baby this time, or always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I thought the anxiety and fear were just part and parcel for a new mom, but it turns out they weren’t. Recently after my second child I was diagnosed with something called postpartum anxiety, a postpartum issue related to, but exhibiting different symptoms than the better known postpartum depression.

    If you find yourself worrying obsessively to the point of being unable to relax or sleep, I urge you to talk to your health care provider and ask to be evaluated for postpartum anxiety and ocd. It’s totally normal to have SOME fears and worries, but it’s not normal to be scared and worried all the time, and I personally know how incredibly hard and isolating that can be. I’m including a link to the blog post I wrote about this, just in case you or anyone else you know is in need of it. I wish you all the best 🙂

  10. Sarah Miller Apr 16, 2016 at 9:50 pm #

    Exactly what Emily Conroy said. I’ve been seeing a therapist for a year and a half (not regularly anymore). These aren’t feelings that should come u constantly like this. I would really recommend seeing someone to talk about how you’re feeling because it sounds a lot like the post partum anxiety I had/have too.

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