Awakened to a Parent’s Nightmare

Usually my husband woke me to nurse the baby, but this time it was someone else…

Posted in , May 17, 2016

Awakened to a Parent’s Nightmare

I sat on the bed and gently rocked my nine-month-old Gary Jr. in my arms, watching my husband dress for work. Gary Sr. looked well-rested, ready to start the day. I was still exhausted from what had happened last night. After three kids—Gary Jr. was my fourth—I thought I’d experienced every parenting nightmare there was. But last night had terrified me.

“Go check the baby.” Those words jarred me awake at one in the morning, like they had for so many nights since Gary Jr. was born. Before bed, as usual, I swaddled the baby and put him on his back in the crib in the corner of our bedroom. I was a sound sleeper though, and whenever Gary Jr. cried to be nursed, Gary Sr. had to wake me. “Okay, okay,” I said to him. But my husband’s eyes were closed, he seemed to have fallen back to sleep already. The room was silent.

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 I tensed – if the baby needed feeding, why wasn’t he crying? I tip-toed over to his crib.

My heart skipped a beat. Gary Jr. was on his stomach, face down in a pool of vomit. He wasn’t moving. SIDS, crib death… all the alarm bells rang in my head. I scooped him up into my arms.

Gary Jr. whimpered and coughed. Alive, thank God. He didn’t have a temperature, he appeared to be fine.  I gently rubbed his back and cleaned him up, then mopped up the crib and changed the sheets. I held him to my chest and sat in my rocking chair. “It’s okay now,” I whispered. It was easy to calm the baby, harder to calm myself. What if my husband hadn’t awakened me? Our son could have drowned in his own vomit right next to us, and we wouldn’t have known until sunrise.

Even after I got back to bed, I didn’t sleep well. Now I looked up at my husband buttoning his shirt with bleary eyes. “At least one of us looks rested.” I told him what had happened. “It’s a good thing you woke me up.”

My husband stopped buttoning and stared at me. “I didn’t wake you up,” he said. “The baby didn’t cry—you said so yourself. I slept through the night.”

If he didn’t wake me—who did?


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