I suspect I am one of the few new mothers who can say they have yet to have a sleepless night. It’s true; besides waking up once during the early morning for a feed, Liam makes no fuss to go to sleep and stay asleep. In the beginning, however, sleep was an area of worry and hassle for me. Due to Liam’s silent reflux, putting him to sleep on his back in his bassinet was often a no-no. The loud groans of a newborn weren’t exactly the most soothing of lullabies. To make matters worse, I could tell he was just extremely uncomfortable, which made me uncomfortable. Initally, when the groaning started John and I attributed it to normal baby sounds, although John was a little paranoid that there was more to it. However, one night, we soon learnt the cause of this groaning in a very scary way.
It was probably 3:30am about one month after Liam had been home. He was sleeping in the bassinet portion of his pack-and-play as he had been since his arrival. I can’t recall what made me respond to him; maybe maternal instinct, but when I did, he seemed to be having trouble breathing. In a ninja-like motion, I grabbed him out of the bassinet and I could hear, more clearly, his gasping and gulping for air. He hadn’t produced any spit-up but something was clearly blocking his airways or preventing him from catching his breath. The part that really my broke my heart was to hear him scream out in fright as he struggled to breathe normally.
And his eyes, the fright in his eyes.
I held him upright at an angle and patted him like crazy. It was like deja vu from his first day by my bedside in the hospital when he seemed to be choking on bile. Only this time, there was no nurse to rescue him. It was only me. I frantically turned to John and said, “John, wake up, Liam’s having trouble breathing!” John woke up sleepily and I sat Liam on the bed and continued to try to soothe him. Definitely broke the Richter scale for scariest event with a baby. This would go on to happen two more nights.
From the get-go, I was 100% against co-sleeping, at least on a regular basis. You know, my whole independent-baby-no-bubble-no-smothering attitude towards parenting. However, these events completely knocked the macho out of me. Liam was sleeping between John and I that same week. You would think I got so much more rest, right?
You see, putting Liam to sleep on his back was still the issue. Bed, bassinet, rocking boat on the calmest ocean; Liam still could not settle on his back due to the reflux. So, we had to cave in and risk putting him to sleep on his stomach. And if you don’t think that caused enough anxiety, he also had to sleep propped up on his Boppy pillow. For those of you who are not familiar, this is an absolute no-no. The Boppy pillow packaging itself has “NOT FOR SLEEP” plastered all over it as if you may miss it the first 25 times. Any research done into the Boppy pillow would have the same advice, no matter how you swing the question. It just was not deemed safe with a number of suffocated babies to support the notion. When reading the testimonials of mothers who also had babies with reflux and had to surrender to the practice of letting the baby sleep in the Boppy pillow, their was no shortage of mummy-shaming in the responses. I felt so guilty. It was a constant tug-of-war between convincing myself that I was making him comfortable and knowing that at that same time I was putting him at risk. I was so adamant against the co-sleeping that I had even tried squashing the Boppy pillow in his pack-and-play and placing him on his back but I literally closed my eyes for all of 20 seconds before I jumped out of bed and brought him back to bed with us because I knew I would be too paranoid to sleep.
What was I thinking?
In my mind, if it didn’t look safe, it probably wasn’t.
But he looked so peaceful propped up on his little Boppy pillow with almost a smile on his face and he slept straight through the night, no fuss. Since I had no choice in the matter when it came to letting him co-sleep, I greatly anticipated when he would be well enough to sleep on his own in his own little crib.
At 3 months old, I finally decided that the co-sleeping was not going to work for a number of reasons. Firstly, John didn’t quite seem to grasp the concept of how to share a bed with a large doughnut-sized pillow in the middle with a baby in it. I get that he’s bigger than me but one large gust of breath from Liam would’ve practically sent me off the edge of the bed. Secondly, Liam, who was not one for waiting until was expected of him to reach certain milestones, had one night, found himself completely off (and over) the Boppy pillow and had somehow managed to crawl himself between our pillows. Our big fluffy double-stacked pillows.
That was it.
By hook or by crook, Liam would be out of our bed. That night, I put him to sleep in his pack-and-play, and I risked putting him on his stomach. Oh, the guilt. However, I was confident in doing this only because from 2 months old Liam had been lifting his head from side to side while on his stomach and had even turned over onto his back to garner our attention. Which he did by screaming at the top of his lungs. The first night was nerve-racking for both John and I, moreso John, but we made it through the first night. And the second. And the third. The transition was a success. Liam was a bona fied tummy-sleeper.
The scariest part of becoming a new mum and figuring these things out is reading online how much of a horrible mother I would be if don’t take the advice of mummy-shamers so I think I’m just going to cease and desist.
I kid, I kid.
Seriously though, it really is frightening to read the experiences of other mothers out there, as well as experts, when trying to make a decision for your own baby. With SIDS information plastered all over the internet, it may appear as the one and only outcome. In my experiences, I’ve never really felt like I had much options but I needed to see another mother say, “I did it, and my baby was fine”, just for that extra reassurance. Now, I’m one of those mothers who can in fact say, “I did it, and my baby is perfect.” It’s a real confidence booster, trust me.
Nowadays, Liam still likes to sleep on his stomach but he’s also venturing onto his back, and even his side on occasion, to nap and play which I’m also embracing. His reflux isn’t so prominent now either as he continues to develop. He merely uses his Boppy pillow for reclining purposes although his chubby little body doesn’t quite fit as it used to.
Whether he was on his stomach or his back, my main concern for Liam was that he was absolutely comfortable.
Mi comodidad, su comodidad.