A few weeks ago, I entered a co-sleeping essay contest. The winners were to be published in a book, but the real draw was that one writer would win a Humanity Family Sleeper, the co-sleeping aide I've been eyeing. When I saw that prize, I threw together 300 words on co-sleeping and entered the contest, hoping with all my might that we'd win the Family Sleeper.
Well, I won- but not the co-sleeper. My essay is one of six being published as chapter introductions in the book Are You Co-Sleeping? Me Too! Of the six given writing prompts, I wrote on how co-sleeping saved my child's life. Of course, I don't know for certain that co-sleeping ever saved Tye's life, but I hate to think what could have happened had she started her life at home sleeping in a crib.
Since she was just weeks old, Tye has had reflux-related choking episodes in which she struggles to clear the spit up from her airways. Some episodes are scarier than others, such as when she silently turned purple in my arms while I scrambled to find the bulb syringe. Others have been much less scary and Tye has cleared her airways herself, sometimes spitting milk out her nose- poor girl. These episodes usually occurred every few days and sometimes three or four times in one day, though they have become less frequent over the past month. For the first several weeks of her life, Tye slept on my chest at night, and later very close beside me. When she choked, her arms flailed, waking me if I wasn't already so that I could pick her up, hold her face-down, comfort her, and suction her throat if she needed assistance. While I'll never know for sure that Tye wouldn't have eventually cleared her throat herself all those times, it's something I'm quite grateful I never had to find out.
In timely fashion, I read an email from another mom on the Holistic Moms Network message board last week. The topic was babies sleeping on their backs and how important the "Back to Sleep" idea is. This mom shared the story of her son with reflux. While just days old in the hospital, asleep on his back in the nursery, he experienced choking related to reflux. Because he was on his back, he couldn't breathe and turned blue. Since then, he has been diagnosed as having cerebral palsy linked to oxygen deprivation those first days.
This mother's experience validated my own fears for Tye's well-being. I have wondered often if I have been overly concerned and wasting energy worrying about a remote possibility. Now I know that my fears were justified, and I'm thankful that I made all those choices to stay near Tye at all times and to never leave the house without a bulb syringe. I am forever grateful that we started co-sleeping and that I woke up every time Tye choked.
The co-sleeping essay I wrote concisely explained how I have woken up to Tye choking silently in the middle of the night and how I believe having Tye beside me at night has helped to keep her safe. It will introduce a chapter on the safety benefits of co-sleeping, and I'll receive a free copy of the book in a few weeks.
Maybe then I can share what I wrote with you, because I never saved my essay.