Saturday, July 5, 2014

Hug Your Children

When my oldest was 4 months old, a dear friend lost her 7-week-old son to SIDS. It changed my life. My daily prayers for Hillary and her family also led me to do a lot of research on SIDS. There's a lot of misinformation out there about SIDS, and the "recommendations" to prevent it are always changing. My friend was doing everything right: back to sleep, breastfeeding, safely co-sleeping, no smokers around the baby, no blankets or pillows around the baby's face. And still Liam was taken by autopsy-confirmed SIDS. Many babies are every year.
   I became paranoid about SIDS, and to this day until each of my children reaches 6-7 months old, I silently obsess over them as they sleep, checking on them several times throughout the night to make sure they're warm and breathing no matter how often they wake to nurse. When my babies first start sleeping through the night, I go in at their regular wake-up times just to check, just to make sure.
   I've also learned there is a lot of false information floating around out there about SIDS. There is no prevention. Pillows, crib bumpers, and blankets in the crib don't cause SIDS, they cause suffocation. Smoking around the baby doesn't cause SIDS, it causes respiratory distress, asthma, allergies, and lowered immune system. Co-sleeping doesn't cause SIDS, it causes suffocation and injury when unsafely practiced. Vaccines don't cause SIDS, they cause illness and vaccine injuries that can kill babies and children. Formula doesn't cause SIDS, it causes a whole host of digestive issues including reflux that can lead to aspiration. A baby sleeping on his or her tummy or sides does not cause SIDS, it causes suffocation if a baby is not strong/developed enough to adequately turn or right itself in danger. Giving honey to an infant under 12 months doesn't cause SIDS, it
causes Botulism poisoning. Not using a pacifier while Baby sleeps does not cause SIDS, it just means they don't need the suck reflex to help them sleep.
   Clearly not every one of these things is necessarily a danger in and of itself, but they are ALL listed as things that "cause" SIDS.  SIDS is exactly as the name says: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. It is the completely unexplainable death in a perfectly healthy infant. There is no cause or prevention. There are safe habits to practice around your family for their better health and safety, but they won't CAUSE SIDS. SIDS in its pathology has no cause or reason. It's gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, life-changing, and happens without cause. It also doesn't just happen to infants. Just this week a friend's perfectly healthy 13-month-old fell asleep for the night at his usual time and just never woke up.
   Don't get complacent with your children's safety. Always do the safest thing possible in every situation. And hug your children. Appreciate the hourly wake-ups while they're tiny, because it means they're breathing. Appreciate their whining, bickering, and hassling, because they're alive to do it. Take a moment to hold each of your children every day, studying their faces and drinking in their smell. Don't ever take that for granted. Because there are things that you have no control over that can snatch your children's lives away in an instant. 

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