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Five years ago, when my daughter was about 4 weeks old, a close friend of my husband also had a baby daughter, she was about 8 weeks old. One morning when they got up to feed her, they found her dead in her cot. This poor family had only just welcomed a precious baby into their lives and tragedy had struck. Cot death had taken their beautiful healthy bundle of joy away from them. It was heartbreaking and completely unexpected.
That was the day I became both aware, and neurotic, of cot death.
I guess I had always ignorantly assumed that:
a) a baby would be ill before dying of cot death
b) cot death was a thing of the past.
I was so wrong on both counts.
Once I researched it, I barely slept again for the next year. I woke up about 50 times a night to check she was still breathing. I’d stare at her chest all the time to make sure it was moving. I wanted a movement sensor for her cot but we were very hard-up at the time and just couldn’t afford one. But this terrible fear was harboured inside me warping my thoughts and willing my daughter to grow up quickly and reach each new milestone. I couldn’t enjoy her being small because I was so scared of this evil twist of nature coming for us.
I followed all the guidelines on the FSID website. Put her to sleep on her back, feet to foot position. Her crib in our bedroom. I frantically checked her temperature and the room temperature. I never brought her into our bed. I was careful about what blankets I used (in fact i think we went with baby sleeping bags instead). I heaved a huge sigh of releif every morning when I woke up to her beautiful smile.
It was hard work, I was tired a lot and I willed her to grow up so fast!
When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I prioritized saving for movement sensor pads for their Moses baskets and cots. I read all the review sites to choose the best one and I indeed bought two movement sensor monitors. I knew I would need sleep with twins and I needed these monitors so I could sleep with peace of mind. If no movement is detected for 20 seconds, an alarm is sounded. This gives you a chance to try and get your baby breathing again, whether its by a little nudge, resuscitation, or getting paramedics in.
I do still panic about whether or not the backup batteries are working and what if floor vibrations prevent the alarm from working. But on the whole I do get some sleep now. I also worry during the day when the babies asleep in their bouncers or cushions and when I’m out and about if they fall asleep in the car or buggy. Sometimes I even feel so paranoid that I am scared to leave the twins with my husband, in case he doesn’t check that they are breathing, as often as i do. I am trying hard to lead a normal life and enjoy every second of my babies being tiny. I don’t want to rush their development, but when you know somebody who has been through this tragedy, its hard not to think about it.
Having twins is double the worry because there are two and double the worry again because they were premature and low birth weight. At 11 weeks they still tiny, weighing in at 8lb 2oz and 7lb 7oz.
Yes I am paranoid and maybe even neurotic, but I’m not ashamed about worrying; cot death is any parents worst fear. What really shocks me, is the amount of negative criticism I have had about buying movement sensor pads! I have lost count of the number of people who have said the following things to me:
1) “They go off all the time, you’ll be panicking for loads of false alarms”
2) “They are a waste of money”
3) “If your baby sleeps in your room you wont need one”
4) “You can’t prevent nature”
5) “That’s a bit over the top, you’re being silly”
6) “Your twins won’t be able to share a cot”
Even some of the midwives in the hospital criticised me for planning to use movement monitors and I just can’t work out why.
Here are my responses:
1) I’d rather wake for 50 false alarms, than not wake if my baby stopped breathing
2) You can’t put a price on your childs safety
3) Having the babies in my room, doesn’t mean I will automatically wake if something went wrong. Babies can’t cry if they aren’t breathing
4) I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t try to save my baby’s life
5) I don’t really care if people think I’m silly, I love my children more than anything on this earth and will do everything in my power to protect them
6) It won’t hurt them to have a cot each.
I appreciate that there are a lot of parents out there that choose not to use these monitors, all parents have freedom of choice. But don’t criticise us parents who feel a great sense of peace of mind by using them. I would never sleep without them and if I didn’t get a decent amount of sleep, it would affect my milk supply and cause further problems and stresses. Why are people so critical of something that has the potential to save a baby’s life? And why are there so many parents out there that are quick to judge others because we are paranoid neurotics? Do they ever stop to think there might be a story behind that mothers’ fear?
In addition to ranting about being judged and in addition to writing this post as a form of therapy, I am hoping the following may come out of this blog post:
* New Parents & Expectant parents will go to the FSID website and read all the tips on how to reduce the risks for their own babies.
* To raise awareness of Cot Death
* To raise awareness of the charity FSID which is working hard to eliminate this tragic and unexplained threat to our babies.
* Anyone reading this will forward the link to the FSID website to all of their friends and family who have or are expecting a baby
* Other parents who have this fear / paranoia will realise it is rational, and they are not alone.
* That parents who want to use movement sensor alarms are not put off by those people who do judge and criticise. It’s your baby, so you should do what you feel happiest doing.
I hope and pray that my babies will be safe and healthy and strong and that I can protect them, nurture them and watch them grow up. I hope I never hear of anyone falling victim to SIDS again. I hope I can spread knowledge and awareness through this post.