Monday, February 14, 2011

Running Into The Wall

When I was pregnant with my daughter I was insistent on having a breathing monitor.  For those of you who have no idea what I am talking's a plastic pad that goes under your baby's cot mattress and an alarm goes off if it doesn't sense movement, this movement is your child's breathing.  The one I wanted was about $350.  Most people thought it was an unnecessary expense...even my husband at one point.  But if you are an anxious first time mum, you will just about pay anything for piece of mind.  I was lucky that the word got around our families and gift vouchers were given at my baby shower, so that I could get my piece of mind baby monitor.

I read the instructions and noted that the alarm might sound for no good reason.  I thought how could it sound for no good reason?  Either the baby is breathing or it's not, so it seemed to me that the alarm could really only be set off one of two ways - there is no baby in the cot or there is no movement in the cot when the baby is in it.  I asked my husband what I should do if the alarm sounded because it would require some serious action.  How would I speak on the phone and perform CPR?  In the end we went out and bought a telephone with speakerphone.

Each time I placed my daughter into the cot I pressed the button to turn the monitor on – “click click” and then a little red light would flash in time with her breathing.  Having the breathing monitor, I felt that I could sleep wholeheartedly... and I really needed that because my daughter was (and still is) a tiny little minx, who needed very regularly feeding and cuddling to sleep otherwise she would scream the house down.  I feared that the “click click” of pressing the on button would wake her up... sometimes it did, then I would have to go through the whole rigmarole of getting her off to sleep again! I would be furious - why do you need a sound when you have a red light to indicate that monitor is on?! 

I can't remember exactly how long it was before the monitor sounded in the middle of the night.  I heard the sound long before I registered what it was.  I sat bolt upright, shoved my husband and froze.  He got up and went quickly to the nursery.  When I regained my wits I jumped out of bed and ran to my daughter.  My husband had ascertained that she was warm and breathing but squashed in the corner of her cot, which meant that her miniscule weight was no longer registering on the pad.  My pounding heart took several minutes to take in this information - a false alarm with the baby in the cot and still breathing.

Another night the alarm sounded.  I leapt out of bed and ran for the doorway.  It was unfortunate that I was still half asleep and ran flat-tack into the wall.  My husband mumbled some words as he stepped over me and strode out the doorway.  I just wanted to get to my daughter quickly... however after running into the wall I read that the first few minutes after waking is like being drunk.  My husband suggested that there was no need to run screaming down the hallway when the alarm sounded otherwise accidents might happen and then it would take longer. I planned to follow his advice.

The next time the alarm sounded I carefully sat up and navigated my way out of the bedroom, then ran down the hall.  But clearly you are drunk when you first wake up because I tripped over my feet, banged my knee and rather gracelessly fell to the ground.  I got up and made it to the nursery and wouldn't you just know it.  My daughter was warm, breathing and squashed up in the corner of her cot.  I turned off the alarm, grabbed the bottom of her sleeping bag and dragged her to the centre of the cot hoping she wouldn't wake up, then I turned the alarm on again.  On my walk back to the bedroom, with a slight limp... I made light of what my husband said.  Stay calm because if I have a cracked head, I might be the one requiring an ambulance.

When baby number two came along, we had the monitor serviced.  My husband was adamant we didn't need it.  But I had read SIDs was more common in boys than girls... so obviously it was imperative that we have the monitor.  My son was, (and is) a big bullyboy... but he still managed to be warm, breathing and squashed in the corner of his cot many many times.  The false alarms were all about position.

I learned after bub number 1, that 100% of the time the alarm was false, so I could calmly walk to my son's  room to switch the alarm off.  He would sleep through the alarm, the repositioning and by 8 weeks old he was sleeping through the night.  So after several of these false alarms waking me up for no good reason, and my son not waking up I decided to trust that my son was a big healthy boy and that I wasn't over-wrapping him or laying him on his stomach and that he was in no way exposed to cigarette smoke so I stopped turning on the alarm for good. 

I would absolutely recommend a breathing monitor to someone who was thinking of getting one anyway. If you are thinking about getting one, then perhaps you are the type of person, like me, who needs piece of mind.  It will help to put you at ease and sleep better... maybe just expect to graze your knee a few times or run into a wall here and there.

Here are some pics I took at 5.30am the other day.  I'm not much into sunrises... I guess because I am not normally up to see them.  But as you can see it was an impressive sunrise.  Cheers!


  1. I'm guessing that you do just about everything at one hundred mile per hour (jumping out of bed, running into walls, posting on Valentine's Day while preparing a wonderful dinner for your husband???), but it is nice to know that you can slow down. Slow down enough to assess the situation and trust your instincts; take in the sunrise; and write a post with no commentary about Mr C.

  2. I started the wonderful dinner after I posted actually... Thanks for the lovely, insightful comments...


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