What I Learned About Life the Night My Baby Stopped Breathing

It’s been 3 ½ years since the night my tiny little man stopped breathing. He came into this world early, 1.4kg and 32 weeks to the day to be exact. He burst out via an emergency caesarean, took a look around and started breathing all on his own. It was probably the most beautifully imperfect situation there is. Looking back, his entrance sums up his personality pretty well – he’s the one that rolls with the punches and gets on with what he’s been handed. After he was born he stayed in hospital for nearly 5 weeks, moving through his ups and downs before coming home on New Years Eve to the sound of Sydney fireworks in the distance. It was perfect.

We had him home with us, doing all the normal things a mumma with a newborn does for nearly two weeks before things changed. On an all-too-standard Tuesday afternoon a lovely girlfriend called to check how I was going. We covered all the new mumma essentials –from nursing pads to spraying milk to what Netflix shows I needed to watch during his night feeds before I cut the chat short. Something felt wrong. I said I had to go and hung up instantly.

I went straight to his room and saw that his mouth was blue, his eyelids the same and his belly wasn’t moving with his usual breathing rhythm. I grabbed him and started screaming his name. Nothing. Then it all kicked in. I called Triple Zero and started compressions within seconds. The operator was perfect – she kept telling me how close the ambulance was, that I was to listen out because I should be able to hear the sirens soon. Within 2 minutes, I had him breathing again and his eyes were open. Within 9 minutes the ambulance was with us.

We were in the hospital for a week while they ran test after test, trying to figure out what the heck had happened. Months down the track he was diagnosed with acute sleep apnea. A-huh. That’s what happened. That hospital stay was life changing. My hubby stayed with us the whole time, his chair slightly reclined, with our little boy nestled on top of him. My baby slept that way until it was time for my husband to go home.

I often think of that Tuesday afternoon. I think about having that ‘feeling’ while chatting with my friend and I often wonder if I should tap into that instinct a little more often or whether going with the flow is better. The answer I always come back to is the constant need to back yourself.

A teacher isn’t doing the best by your child? Speak up.

You want to run 10kms? Start with just 1. You’ll get there.

You want to change your diet? Do it. Chuck away the bad food and start afresh.

There isn’t enough time for YOU in the day? Find time. Prioritise you.

A friend hurt you? Tell them. Make it better for you both.

You want to get happier? Find a way. Start. Start. Start.

You want more love and compassion in the world? Show it. Do it yourself. Others will follow your lead.

And you want that job? Then bloody go for it.

Life is going to throw you curve balls you’ll never see coming. So back yourself, trust that you have everything you need and life will be just that little more awesome than you ever thought possible.

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Image: Stacey Clare