So the gods obviously saw this as some sort of challenge, because that night Kasia stopped breathing in her sleep, not once, but twice. We have Kasia's crib set up with an angel care monitor which sounds an alarm if there is no movement for 20 seconds, and then a second more insistent alarm 10 seconds after that. Of course, it is intended to warn of SIDS, but we have kept using ours after the normal SIDS window for obvious reasons, but all the alarms in the past have been false ones, triggered because Kasia had moved out of sensor range – i.e., was standing up in the crib at one edge, off the sensor pad. This was a convenient way to know that Kasia was up and about, but on Wednesday, when I dashed to turn the alarm off, I found Kasia lying in the middle of her crib not moving. I couldn't tell if she was breathing too shallowly for the monitor to detect, or had in fact stopped breathing, so I reached out to feel her chest, and of course that woke her up. She then started sucking in air as if rescued from a vacuum, and whimpered as if terrified – the typical symptoms of someone recovering from a sleep apnea attack. She eventually settled and I turned the alarm on again, and five minutes later the alarm went off again, and this time the alarm itself was enough to wake Kasia up. But both times, I thought it was apnea.
Apnea runs in my family; my mother, my brother, and I myself all have it. So I did not react all that much. But when Mary mentioned the incidents to our GP at her appointment Thursday morning, the doctor insisted we speak to our pediatrician, who had immediately checked Kasia into the hospital.
So once again I found my daughter hooked up to a variety of monitors while she slept through two nights in the hospital. The first night there were four 'incidents' where Kasia's heart rate and oxygen levels fell far below norms, but in each case, she recovered spontaneously. When we asked what this meant, it was pretty much shrugs all round. It might be apnea, but it might just be one of those things – a symptom related to her current congestion, or random baby rhythms that Kasia will soon out grow. But then, neither was the doctor was able to provide any assurance that the episodes were not life threatening. It might well be something serious, particularly given the pattern of seizures we're already coping with. The best he could offer was, 'So far, so good'; but when it is your baby, that's not really all that comforting.
So Kasia was home from the hospital last night, and no alarm, though the angel care monitor is not really the right instrument to detect apnea episodes…And Mary, having stayed all night at the hospital both nights Kasia was hooked to the monitor, has assured me that there are absolutely no visible signs we can watch for to tell what is happening with Kasia's heart rate or oxygen levels. When Kasia had her 'incidents' in hospital, there were no outward signs whatsoever. Nevertheless, every time I hear Kasia roll over, or breath funny (which is a lot, since she does now have the sniffles) I'm out of bed starring at the crib. I am fully aware that this is not functional behavior and that I will pay a price in the morning, but what can I do?
We had planned to move Kasia to her own room, but once again the doctor advised against it. He liked that we were there and ready to respond to whatever might show up. So we have continued the pattern of deciding who needs the sleep most for the next morning, i.e., whomever has the class or presentation that day, and sending that parent to the spareroom for a few hours of undistracted sleep. But the uncertainty and worry about Kasia is wearing us down.