Not too long after we brought our daughter home I had a terrible scare. My wife and I were eating dinner and our daughter was fussy. I paused my meal and picked her up and put her on my chest to console her while my wife finished eating. She wiggled around for a little bit being the wiggle-worm that she is and settled into a spot near my armpit. Face down in my armpit she fell asleep and then I started to think about the ABC’s of safe sleep. I started to think about SID’s. And then I wondered, ‘Is she getting enough air lying like that?’
I went to adjust her position and she was limp as a doll. My experience to date was with a wiggle-worm. Always grunting. Always self-adjusting her position to find a more comfortable one. This was not the wiggle-worm I know.
I panicked and flipped her on to her stomach to pat her on the back like she was choking because I saw a friend do it with his son in a restaurant once when he started to choke. Never mind that this was not the appropriate response; I was sleep deprived.
She did not respond at all.
My wife seeing this and the panic on my face was now overcome with a panicked face of her own. We jumped up and my wife said let me see her. We were both looking for the same thing-our daughters face wasn’t blue, but she was still limp. I rushed over by the light to get a closer look and all I could think about was a cat that I had years ago…
The cat was in my care when my mom moved to Palm Springs and I wasn’t a very good care taker. I never paid much attention to it and when I noticed the cat wasn’t eating she was already very ill. I set out to call a vet but the cat went limp in my arms.
One minute she was here and the next she was gone.
…And while I was standing there holding my daughter with thoughts flashing by faster than I can process, my wife and I staring at our daughter trying to hear if she is breathing? She grinned!
I am about to have a heart attack and my daughter is in the deepest most pleasant state of slumber. I have since become familiar with this deepest of sleeps that often occur while she is comfortably in my arms. My wife is able to stay at home with our daughter and was already familiar with this deep sleep to which her reaction was very different from mine.
I still get anxious every time she falls asleep like that, but I’ve learned not to panic. I’ve learned to examine the facts before me and assess the current situation rather than react to memories from a long time ago. Just like anything else I want to well, parenting takes practice. But the thought of failure can be overwhelming.