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Breathe, Baby, Breathe!

Twenty-four years ago today was the first time I panicked as a mother ; my newborn daughter was forgetting to . . . BREATHE. There may be a lot of things I have forgotten to do over the years, but breathing isn’t one of them.

I was very grateful when the doctor gave us an apnea machine that would alarm when Sarah stopped breathing for more than twenty seconds. The alarm would wake us to panic. Half-asleep, we would race to Sarah's bed and gently shake her until she took a deep breath asi if to say, ”Oh yeah . . . I forgot that one minor thing that is ESSENTIAL TO LIFE!”

Not only did Sarah have apnea, she was colicky. She cried for hours (which seemed like days) and we were exhaustedly sleepless in Sycamore. We tried everything to calm her and found only three things that worked:

  • A baby swing.: It should be noted that a parent can’t sleep themself while their baby is in the swing.

  • Sarah would sleep soundly if we held her, so I would sleep on my back, and she would sleep on my stomach. When Sarah awoke crying, I would pat her bottom until she went back to sleep. I know, I know . . . I know this is dangerous; I know that babies can be suffocated by sleeping parents. Sarah, however, would never have let that happen because she woke up the moment I STIRRED, besides, she had an apnea machine that screeched the minute she stopped breathing.

  • The final thing that put Sarah to sleep was a ceiling fan. We would hold Sarah under the ceiling fan, and she was so mesmerized that she would forget to scream. Her eyes would watch it go round until she eventually fell sleep. Once she was asleep, we would VERY CAREFULLY settle her in her crib where we would pat her back for five more minutes before we TIPTOED out of her room, being very careful to miss every squeaky floor board (And trust me, we knew exactly where those squeaky boards were located). We then had the luxury of sleep until the apnea monitor went off again.

So when my daughter’s birthday rolls around, like it did yesterday, and I become melancholy and wish for the “good old days” . . . I go stand under the ceiling fan and remember my nights with my daughter there. It helps me to come back to my senses. I then call my beautiful and hilarious adult daughter and ask her to have lunch with me so we can share some “breathing space” and a few good laughs.


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