How Co-Sleeping Saved My Daughter’s Life

Bed sharing with your children seems to be a controversial issue.  I’m not sure why it tends to be such a hot topic for debate. Over the years I’ve come to be a strong proponent of the family bed – and a few weeks ago it literally saved my daughter’s life.

Before I had children, bed-sharing was the one and only thing I swore I would never, ever do! No way! Not ever! It seemed unsafe and I had read all the warnings about babies being suffocated in their sleep under hazardous conditions. I was going to do everything in my power to keep my baby perfectly safe and sound! We had a lovely, ultra secure bassinet next to our bed and I planned for our first child to sleep there – within reach but out of harm’s way.

Except he wouldn’t sleep. We couldn’t put our baby down without him shrieking and screaming at the top of his lungs within seconds. We tried everything we could: swaddling, not swaddling, white noise, vibrations, rocking, lullabies… you name it, we tried it. NOTHING WORKED. I wasn’t about to let my precious newborn baby cry – so we gave in and held him. We held him around the clock in shifts. By the time he was 6 weeks old my husband and I hadn’t spent a single moment in our bed together. We were exhausted and near the breaking point. My mother even came over to hold our son through the night once when we were both ready to collapse from exhaustion and didn’t know how we’d survive.
One day my husband looked at me and said, “You’ve got to just find away to breastfeed him in bed.”  So I did. Out of sheer necessity we began sleeping with him in our bed. I told myself I’d still try to get him in his bassinet when he feel into a deep sleep – but I didn’t. He slept so well! We were rested, and sane, and happy!! And so was our baby!

When baby #2 arrived we kept him with us in our bed from day one! Same with baby #3. I love having them right next to me where I can hear & feel them breathing. I sleep without pillows & use only very light blankets up to my waist, while keeping baby up near my head – we’re practically nose to nose.

I understand that this arrangement doesn’t work for everyone, nor is it recommended for everyone. For us, it works! Especially when I return to work. I love the aspects of nighttime parenting after being away all day. I might miss out on their daytime activities, so I feel better being present and close throughout the night. Plus, there’s the added benefit of reducing nighttime wakings. At the first sign of baby stirring, I can breastfeed him/her and we both go back to sleep. Nobody has to get up! And that is essential to me being able to get up at 5 a.m. and being at least moderately productive at the office!

When baby #3 arrived it was a given that she’d sleep with us, just like her brothers had – and I’m oh-so-thankful she did! When she was a week old we were getting ready for bed, I swaddled her in her blanket and set her next to me. My husband and I were chatting about the day & I heard her burp. I happened to look over at her and saw a tiny bit of spit up on her mouth. I leaned over to wipe it away and noticed she was wide-eyed with a panicked look on her face. I yelled at my husband, “Turn on the lights! I don’t think she can breathe!”

My husband turned on the lights and my baby girl was quickly turning purple!!! We flipped her over and patted her back but she wasn’t breathing. I jumped up and got the bulb syringe they give you in the hospital (best thing EVER!!!) and suctioned out her nose – nothing. I stuck it in her mouth and suctioned out her throat. FINALLY a cry!!!! Praise God!

Then it happened again! She started turning purple a second time!!! We repeated the suctioning and she was breathing! It took about 15 minutes for her to start breathing normally again. During this time we put in a call to her pediatrician’s on-call line. The nurse we spoke to urged us to call an ambulance to bring her to the ER. Several minutes later baby and I were on our way to the hospital while hubby stayed home with the older two kids.

At the ER, the doctor  said she had an “apparent life threatening event” (honestly, could they call it something a little LESS traumatizing???). She was admitted for two days and they ran all sorts of tests. A children’s hospital is nowhere that you want to be! It’s sad and it’s scary and it’s just heartbreaking! But after you’ve seen your baby turn purple and stop breathing you will watch that oxygen monitor like a hawk for 48 hours without blinking!

The doctors ran all sorts of screenings, including an echocardiogram and an EKG. I cried a lot & prayed a lot.

All test results came back normal! They diagnosed our sweet girl with a really bad case of silent reflux. Over and over all I could think about was what would have happened if I hadn’t been looking at her. She was so quiet! If I had gone to the other room, if I had been in the shower – would we have seen her? Would we have intervened in time? Could the outcome have been tragic?

It took awhile before I felt like I could sleep again. We bought a Snuza monitor that clips onto her diaper and will sound an alarm if she’s not breathing. This helps me feel a bit more secure. Every night, when we snuggle up, nose to nose, and I hear her breathe, I am filled with so much thankfulness and awe. I am so thankful to have our baby girl with us and I know not one moment should ever be taken for granted.

For more information on the benefits of co-sleeping and how to do it safely, check out this link.

Binky Linky

11 thoughts on “How Co-Sleeping Saved My Daughter’s Life

    • Claire Louise says:

      Thanks for reading! When our 1st was little we thought he was just a difficult baby – but he was really just telling us what he needed. I wouldn’t have it any other way! (although I would have gladly skipped the whole turning purple & going to the hospital ordeal)

  1. Twinmumanddad (@Twinmumanddad) says:

    We co-sleep with our twins. They’re three. One of our twins had a bad case of silent reflux. It was awful. Our GP was brilliant though and thankfully when we started weaning her it disappeared, but it was awful. I can’t imagine what you must have been going through that night. It must have been so scary for you all. Thank god she’s ok now. Thanks for linking up to the #BinkyLinky

    • Claire Louise says:

      Thanks for reading! I’m glad to hear the reflux eventually disappears. It’s so miserable to watch them going through it, isn’t it?! We’re still dealing with it for now – we have the whole top of our bed at an incline to help her out – but thankfully no more episodes like the one that sent us to the hospital!

  2. ApparentlyAwkward (@AwkwardParent) says:

    Thank you for this post. What a scary ordeal!! Most nights my son goes down for bed easy in his cot which is in our room. But when he wakes in the night and just cannot be calmed – a night feed, dummy, shushing, diaper change, etc. doesn’t work but the minute he is placed in our bed and is comforted by the fact that we are both right there – I can’t imagine that should be looked at as a bad thing! It’s clear that is what he needs is the comfort of his parents!

    • Claire Louise says:

      I am all for baby-led parenting! I feel strongly that babies let us know what they need. It’s our job to meet those needs & just show them they’re loved unconditionally!
      I’m in awe of people who have kids who are great sleepers! All of mine have never been good sleepers – but I guess never was either! 🙂
      Enjoy all those snuggles!

  3. Elena says:

    Wow, this is so frightening to read. I’m so glad your whole family is safe and sound. I never co-slept with my kids but I never would judge anyone else for doing so. Many of us make promises to ourselves pre-children what we would or would not do. Lack of sleep reverses a lot of that pretty quickly!

    • Claire Louise says:

      Definitely one of the scariest moments of my life! I firmly believe our mommy instincts help us each know what is best for our babies – each one is completely unique!

  4. Nige Higgins says:

    Thanks for sharing your post it must of been a very scary time our twins are always sleeping with us I actually don’t see the problem glad everything was ok thanks for linking to the Binkylinky

  5. Unhinged Mummy (aka Janine Woods) says:

    What a scary experience! I Co-slept with baby number 3 from day 1 as like yours, she just wouldn’t be put down. She has sleeping through the night in her own bed since 8 months old.

    My son is now 3 and we started co-sleeping about 8 months ago because he stopped sleeping when we moved his sister into his room. If I didn’t let him co-sleep none of us would get any sleep. Sometimes you got to do what you can to stay sane 😉

    • Claire Louise says:

      My 3 year old has been going through a no-sleeping phase right now too! Since we have his baby sister in our room, poor dad ends up spending half the night in the bunk beds in the kids’ room to stay with him. I agree – you do what you can to get whatever precious sleep you can get!! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *