Conquering My SIDS Fears

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Image via Mindi Stavish

When I was pregnant with my first child almost seven years ago, I was working in an acute care pediatric hospital as a speech-language pathologist. My patients ranged from premature babies with eating problems to school-aged children recovering from traumatic accidents. I treated babies and toddlers with a wide range of genetic and developmental disorders. The job was not easy, and many times, I went home in tears. I cared for my patients as if they were my own. I celebrated the tiny milestones with families and grieved over gut-wrenching losses.  

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Needless to say, as soon as I found out I was pregnant, fears of premature birth, stroke, deafness, and rare genetic disorders crippled my mind. Instead of enjoying the fun aspects of being pregnant, I couldn't help but question if my baby was going to be OK. When I announced my pregnancy around 12 weeks, I felt a bit of relief. It was nice to be able to voice my concerns to my colleagues and a few of the nurses I worked with. Many of them moms themselves, they were able to offer advice on how they coped with the scary and sad reality of our job.  

The more I talked, the less I felt out of control and anxious. It was very relieving. When my due date finally came and went, I couldn't wait to meet my baby boy. At 40 weeks and four days, I delivered a healthy baby boy via cesarean section. The moment I became a mom, my worries and fears multiplied, and my ability to love another being so hard multiplied by a million.

My baby and I were discharged from the hospital five days after his birth. I was so ready to go home, but I was not prepared for what was to come.

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The first night home, I was struck with a crippling fear that my son would die in his sleep. During my pregnancy, I briefly read about SIDS to educate myself on precautions to take to reduce the risk, yet I wasn't prepared for how anxious I would be about SIDS.

During those first few weeks of my baby's life, I would wake up in a cold sweat and run to his crib to check for rising and falling of his chest. Many nights, I held him in my arms while I willed myself to stay awake for fear that he would stop breathing if I wasn't watching him.  

After weeks of interrupted sleep, I began to dread bedtime. I wasn't sure how to climb out of this hole of anxiety, yet knew I needed help. My husband and I spoke with my son's pediatrician and then I talked to my OBGYN. She told me that this response was very normal. She offered me medication, as she believed it sounded like the beginning of post-partum depression. I declined since I didn't feel it was at that point and consulted with a few friends who experienced similar fears.  

My husband and I also worked out a better sleeping schedule and moved the baby into our room in a co-sleeper. I didn't feel better immediately, but over time, my anxiety subsided. By the time my son was 8 weeks old, I no longer felt anxious at bedtime and began celebrating the longer stretches of sleep at night. I was happy to finally conquer the SIDS fear.  

Did you experience similar fear over SIDS when your child was a newborn?    

What do you think?

Conquering My SIDS Fears

Mindi is a working mom with three boys ages 4, 2, and an infant (born June 2013). She spent her first 8 years of her career in Speech-Language Pathology at a Children's Hospital. She currently works with adults and children in home health. The real fun for her happens when she is at home with her boys, chasing them around and pretending to be a super hero. She blogs about life as a working mom at Simply Stavish. Her weekly feature, Words in the Sand, teaches parents how to grow their child's s ... More

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3 comments

  1. Profile photo of Steph Steph says:

    As a mother who deals everyday with the guilt grief and questions about the sudden death of my son,prevention is giving parents a false sense of security we did everything right Patrick still died. No one could answer our questions, 26 years later the questions still eat at you. SIDS statistics haven’t really changed, research needs to find a test for infants at risk. What is the physiological cause. Environmental “causes” are inconsequential. Our other four children are just fine.

  2. Profile photo of Nicole Nicole says:

    I think every parent lives with this fear now because SIDS really does not seem to have a full explanation. You can do everything right and it still can happen. I did not start breathing easier until my son hit his first birthday. I didn’t stay awake at night to watch him, but I checked on him every time I came to bed and every time I woke up at night.

  3. Profile photo of Paige Paige says:

    This is exactly why we got the Angel Care monitor! The alarm goes off if they stop breathing. This gives me peice of mind and let’s me sleep. While in the hospital I could NOT sleep for fear he would stop breathing. I ended up having to make the nurses take him up to their station and watch him just so I could get a couple hours of sleep to get to a point where I wasn’t delirious from all the trauma of giving birth and make it home! Lol oh the things we go through for these little ones! 😉

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