Thursday, November 14, 2013

How scary is SIDS?

SIDS has been on my mind lately.

Oh, SIDS...Literally every mama's worst nightmare.  This simple little acronym woke me from sleep, literally gasping for air because I thought my little one wasn't breathing.

When you are expecting, when you take your kiddo to the pediatrician, when you're in the hospital, frankly, when you're just thinking about having a kid, the topic on every tongue and plastered on every pediatrician's walls is SIDS.

So what is it and how scary is it?

SIDS stands for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  Let's break this down a little bit to make it a little easier to understand.

SUDDEN--as in, no warning.  There have been few, if any, symptoms that can reliably predict SIDS.

INFANT--refers to babies less than one year.

DEATH--I think this one is obvious.

SYNDROME--A syndrome is a collection of signs, symptoms or characteristics that are frequently observed together.

Here are a few quick facts on SIDS:

1.  It is the leading cause of death in infants aged 1 month to 1 year.

2.  It is the 3rd leading cause of infant mortality in the United States.

3.  The incidence of SIDS deaths has decreased by 50% since the Back to Sleep campaign in 1994.

4.  The incidence peaks between 2 and 4 months of age.

5.  The incidence of SIDS related deaths is 0.5 per 1000 live births.

If you ask me, all of that sounds pretty scary.  If you break it down to an elementary level, it basically means that sometimes babies die and we don't know why.  The best that organizations like the AAP and CDC can do is to make recommendations of things that negatively correlate with SIDS: interpretation, if you do a, b or c, the risk of SIDS goes down.  We'll get to that later.

Is it real?  I admit, I have had my doubts at times.  Our society is one that loves a good campaign, right?  Let me assure you, I have had the misfortune of seeing a SIDS baby, and hearing the cries of a mama of a SIDS baby.  It is real, and it is heart-breaking every. single. time.  HOWEVER...0.5 per 1000 equates to 1 per 2000.  I don't know about you, but I don't know anywhere close to 2000 babies.  In all practicality, most of us will never have a personal connection to a SIDS related death.

I am an admitted worrier.  Although Henry is almost 4 months old, I still listen to him breathing in the middle of the night, just to assure myself that he is still alive.  As a worrier, I am one that can be tempted to pursue anything and everything that could possibly help me avoid an unwanted outcome.

Example: prior to Henry's birth, we bought a fabulously cute crib bumper.  It is soft and fluffy, and perfectly plaid.  After Henry learned to roll onto his tummy, he loves to roll ALL OVER his crib.  After one day of constantly checking the baby monitor to make sure that his face wasn't shoved into the bumper leading to his untimely death, I sent my hubby for an emergency Target run to invest in a mesh, breathable crib bumper.  Hello cheap, ugly bumper, goodbye expensive, beautiful Pottery Barn Kids bumper.

Example: I still go back and forth on whether to continue to allow Henry to sleep in our bedroom.  He doesn't sleep IN our bed, he sleeps beside it in his own little bed.  All three of us are great sleepers, so none of us are missing out on this arrangement.  So far, we have decided to keep him there.

Example: I researched several apnea monitors that are currently on the market.  There are several, and I won't call out brands here, but the concept is a nice one.  Clip this little doo-dad to baby's diaper, or place this object under baby's back, and it can alert you if baby stops breathing/moving.  I drew the line in the sand here, simply because I think the risk of a false alarm outweighed the possible benefits.  I can just picture myself jumping out of bed due to a false alarm and going into turbo infant CPR mode.  Not a pleasant picture.

So we have implemented the following recommendations.  They are reasonable and easy to implement.  This list is directly from the American Academy of Pediatrics.  If you're interested in reading the whole article, you can do so here.

1.  Put your baby on their back to sleep, every time.
2.  Use a firm sleep surface, covered by a fitted sheet.
3.  Room sharing, but not bed sharing, is recommended.
4.  Keep soft objects out of the crib.
5.  Pregnant mamas should go to the doctor for prenatal care.
6.  Avoid cigarette smoke exposure, both during and after pregnancy.
7.  Avoid alcohol and drug use, both during and after pregnancy.
8.  Breastfeed.
9.  Consider using a pacifier at naptime and bedtime.
10.  Avoid overheating.
11.  Immunize your baby.

That's the gist of the article.

At the end of the day, I have to remind myself that women have been having babies for centuries upon centuries without miracle devices and gadgets so that I don't drift into the realm of ridiculousness.  I toe the line between concerned, protective mama and full-out crazy lady sometimes, but these few measures help to keep me somewhat grounded.

Conclusion: SIDS is scary, but is also (relatively) rare.  Go with your gut, trust your instincts.  At the end of the day, a well-rested mama makes for a happy family, so choose whatever helps you sleep at night.

**Disclaimer: Although I am a medical professional, the above rantings and musings are my personal opinions as a mama, coupled with the suggestions of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Finally....Henry's nursery!

So, I know Henry is almost 4 months and everything, but I figured better late than never.

Sorry for the delay, folks.  As a mommy of a newborn, a self-proclaimed perfectionist, and a preggo that never experienced nesting, I didn't feel that his nursery was truly "done" until recently.  A lot of love and planning went into this room, and my hope is that we have given him a space that is all his own; an environment that encourages growth and development; a safe place for him to come home to.

And now, without further ado, I will now give you a virtual tour of Henry's nursery.

Starting with Henry's door.  This is the one and only hand-made project that I completed prior to Henry's arrival.  I made it the week after we found out that Henry was a he.

Here is the other side of Henry's door.  Lest he forget his own name, you will see it posted in various places around his room.  This was made by my talented SIL, and was featured at our Tulsa shower.

Next up is the crib.  We chose this particular one because it converts into a toddler bed and also into a headboard and footboard for a full sized bed.  In other words, this bed has the potential to grow with Henry.

Side view

Henry's view from the inside, featuring plaid and planes.
Now, my personal favorite spot...the reading corner.

Because if I have anything to do with it, my son will be a reader.  READERS ARE LEADERS!

The storage cabinet featuring one of my favorite shower gifts.

The shadowbox has one of my Dad's baby outfits and a picture of
him wearing this outfit in 1952.

Now a tour of some of the wall art.
A unique piece of art with a plane made of tiny pieces of paper cut from magazines,
flanked by two of the verses I like to pray over Henry.

An authentic WWII airplane propeller that was JP's and made it through his house fire--it's one of JP's favorite childhood items and he is so excited to pass it to Henry.
Some pictures of my Grandad who was a turret ball gunner in WWII.
Henry's middle name Robert, came from this wonderful man.

Another original from my talented SIL.

Finally, a few shots that put it all together.

And there you have it! 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Tick tock.


I think my biggest enemy is time.

It seems like no matter what I do, there is never enough.

Word of warning: I was in a liberal arts program in college, and I am about to get really profound here.

One of the "curses" of earthly beings is that we are restricted to linear time.  We have no choice in the matter.  No matter what we do to try to stop time, slow it down, or control it, the seconds tick on by.  Seconds turn to minutes, which turn to hours, then days, and suddenly weeks have gone by without you noticing.

In some of my philosophical moments, I wonder if this isn't one of the "curses" we brought on ourselves in the infamous Garden of Eden scandal.  I mean, at some point, Adam and Eve physically walked with God and communed with Him.  I believe God exists outside of time, so did that mean Adam and Eve did also?  I wonder...

Fast forward a few hundred years to the giving of the Mosaic Law.  God commands us to have a Sabbath.  Doesn't this seem strange to you?  Don't murder one another, don't worship other gods...those make total sense to me.  But take one day a week to rest?  Don't mind if I do!  It seems like the easiest one on the list.  But do we keep the Sabbath?  I'm sad to say that probably 50/52 weeks of the year we do not.

Why is it so hard to just freaking rest?!

Could it be because I am always mentally making a list of things "to-do?"  And the list just keeps getting longer....

These days, it seems people are constantly competing for who is busier.  Gather any group of people together and they will eventually start comparing notes on who has the least amount of time.  Honestly?  Although it's a game that I frequently participate in, I don't want to win this one.  Why do we equate busy-ness with importance?  Do I somehow matter more if I have less free time?

I think God knew this.  See...I think God knew that there would be people like me in the 21st century that struggle to sit down and just be.  I think He knew this before TVs, iPads, iPhones, and the thousands of other distractions that we are so proud of ourselves for inventing.

In all fairness, He tried to warn us, y'all.

The past couple of weeks have been non-stop in our house.  I seriously feel like JP and I are playing a constant game of tag--you're it.  With going back to work, it seems like there is a constant hand off between us, with very little time for the two of us together.  We have plenty of family time, but it is really hard to ignore Henry and spend time just the two of us.

I don't have any sage words of wisdom this week.  This is just me dumping my problems onto the Internet for everyone to read in the hopes that others feel the same way, and might have some words of encouragement or advice.

I leave you with this beautiful metaphor of time from one of my favorite movies, Finding Neverland.

Mrs Snow to J.M. Barrie: "I suppose it's like the ticking crocodile, isn't it?  Time is chasing after all of us, isn't that right?"