Friday, 19 October 2012

172: Night Watch

When we came home from the hospital, he had a monitor fitted for overnight.  It was supposed to mean we could sleep without worrying about him.  An insistent beep would wake us up if it happened again.  How did they think we would do that?  Presumably none of them had children of their own, could they sleep?

He wasn’t quite blue when we found him the first time, just a tinge to his lips.  His breathing came and went, stopping for minutes at a time.  The wait for the ambulance was interminable.  The operator said to keep his airway open and puff into him, but gently, if he stopped breathing again.  My mouth went over his mouth and his nose together he was so tiny.  I was scared to blow too hard in case I hurt him.  Scared not to blow in case…

The hospital was great.  It was bright and shiny, lights and beeps, bustle and silence.  But they always told us what they knew, not that it was much at first.  We still don’t understand why he stopped breathing.  If we did maybe I would feel I could trust the monitor.  They said it could tell if his chest didn’t rise and fall, then the noise of the alarm would start.  It would wake him and that should start him breathing again.  If it didn’t, it would wake us and we could get an ambulance and blow into him again.

So we had lessons in fitting the monitor to the battery at night and in what to do if it went off.  Then we were sent home, to do it all by ourselves.  Responsible for this little life in a way we had never imagined before.

They told us there might be false alarms and not to worry if that happened.  Usually the lead would have come loose or something else technical.  It happened the first night, whilst he was still in the moses basket in the living room, so we know he was definitely breathing.  I never knew a sound could burn your ears but that beeping did.  I could hear it for hours after.

The first few nights neither of us slept well.  Any little sound in the house we thought it was him, that it was happening again.  We took an hourly watch, peeking into his room, distant enough not to waken him and close enough to see the movement of his chest.

My husband normally sleeps through now, so I keep watch alone, just I case the beep doesn’t wake us.


  1. This seems very real. I hope it didn't really happen! Great attention to detail. I felt frightened for the parents.

  2. Yeah, I also wondered if this was a true story. It felt real. Is this part of a series? It feels like the beginning to something more.


  3. Truly horrifying. You've captured the waiting and watching, a life hanging in the balance, all the while scared to hope, very well.