My kids were born with obstructive sleep apnea

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Before I was a childbirth educator, I was a mom of a little girl. I’ve written about her birth before; I haven’t really ever thought to talk about how both of my kids were born with sleep apnea, and how it took forever to find a pediatrician who would actually believe me.

When I first brought her home from the hospital, I noticed almost immediately that my baby girl would regularly stop breathing for a couple of seconds, only to gasp for air. Initially, my new mama instinct wasn’t sure if I was just being overly paranoid, or if she really did stop breathing for a couple of seconds before the big gasps I didn’t think were normal. Her Mayo Clinic doctor (who was a total and complete ass, BTW), ignored my concerns– he told me she was just congested, and moved on to something else.

(As an aside, I should tell you some day about the nonsense “parenting education” material they would give me every visit. Knowing what I know now, there was very little actual evidence behind it. All it did was foster doubt an insecurity by creating parenting expectations that would never be biologically normal. Even better, if I could find the sheets, it’d be a total hoot to go through it with a big red marker!)

When my daughter was about 4 weeks old, after sleepless nights and too many days nodding off during the day while I fed her on the couch, a friend encouraged me to look into safe bedsharing. I found the safety guidelines online, and during one nap time, I latched her on while in the side-lying position in my bed, and we both fell asleep for a life-changing 2 hours. I was a convert from then on out. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that since she and I started sharing a safe sleep surface, I no longer noticed that she would stop breathing. Instead of sleeping next to me in her bassinet on her back (which, until very recently, was the only AAP-sanctioned sleep scenario), she spent her nights cuddled up next to me, on her side. Sometimes I’d wake up and find out that I’d been feeding her without remembering when or how the feeding started. And then, when she was 9 months old or so, she started to turn sideways in the middle of the night and stretch out as much as she possibly could. That’s when we transitioned her to a crib in her own room. And at 9 months, she would sleep in whatever position she felt like sleeping in that night. By that point, she was not only rolling and crawling, but walking on her own, too. SIDS and back-to-sleep stuff was no longer technically an issue for her.

However– she was back having very, very audible sleep apnea. We’d listen to what I now understand was the sound made when her tongue would fall into the back of her mouth, then the little “kuh” sound she’d make right before the gasp as she started breathing again. We’d joke in a moribund manner that the gasp at least told us she was breathing…eventually. Moreover, we’d started to notice that when she slept, she always slept on her stomach or he side with her head tilted back to straighten and open her airway.

When she was 2 years old–maybe?– we brought it up again with her doctor. Keep in mind, smart phones weren’t a thing yet. iPods were big and bulky and only had hard drives and were only for music. We could really only convey what we were noticing by trying to recreate it ourselves. Her family med doc was again dismissive, though he did say he could refer us for a pediatric sleep study, but that it would take 6 months before we’d be able to get in. Shortly after that, our basement flooded, my husband got a new job that required him to commute 90 minutes each way, and then I got pregnant with her little brother… and life got super chaotic.

Once my son was born, bedsharing was started from day 1. However, he didn’t really nap on his own until he was about 8 months old, and when he did, he’d do what his sister did– he’d stop breathing. As he neared the 9 month mark, when I would put them both down for a nap in the same room, I’d listen to the baby monitor as they took turns having apnea episodes (which I’m sure did NOT help my anxiety). I can’t remember if it was at a well baby visit for him or a well child visit for her, but I mentioned the apnea episodes their pediatrician, who referred us to a pediatric ENT. She got her tonsils out shortly after her 4th birthday. At that point, they had grown so large that she barely had any room to breathe while she slept. A few days after the tonsillectomy, we noticed that when she slept–there was silence.

My son had his tonsils and adenoid out when he was 3 years old. He was also able to breathe perfectly while sleeping a couple days after surgery.

So there you go. My kids had obstructive sleep apnea, and now they don’t. I do think that both of them had and have tongue ties for a BUNCH of reasons. I had recurrent mastitis, nursing was super painful at first with my daughter, she didn’t gain weight all that fast, both kids had EPIC spit-ups. One child had speech issues that have been resolved. The other one tongue-thrusts to swallow and is very sensitive to food texture.I often wonder if I had had them sleeping on their own in a room from day 1, on their backs and not near me–would we have had a different outcome? We know (and the AAP recognizes this) that babies NEED to sleep in close range to their parents for at least the first 9 months, in part to help them regulate their breathing. When humans sleep on their backs, the tongue can fall to the back of the mouth, causing snoring and apnea.

Finally, I do want parents to know that if your little one stops breathing and then gasps for air, that is NOT NORMAL. If they sleep with their head always tilted back—again, not normal. Listen to your gut, and if your child’s care provider dismisses you–get a second opinion. Or a third. I know that there’s so much more to learn about this, SIDS, and other sleep issues, but I do think that parents can go a long way if we share our stories and compare notes.

On that note, Happy New Year!

Warmly,

Veronica

 

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Announcing Twin Cities Hospital Birth Costs at a Glance!

After last year’s epic process of compiling costs for births and newborn care, I was trying to figure out a more accessible way for parents to get the 2015 data. So, I created a more streamlined guide-at-a-glance.

This guide has a few features: health system affiliation is listed, allowing you to see how they differ in cost from company to company. It’s just two pages, making it easy to flip back and forth. I had fun compiling the information, and I hope you find it useful!

Warmly,

Veronica

Get your copy of Twin Cities Hospital Birth Costs at a Glance

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Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

What confident births look like

The weekend, during the Ready for Birth: Express class, I took a couple of minutes to show a birth video that I don’t always show; it was a larger class, and it was wonderful to have so many different families. Some were giving birth in birth centers, others in hospitals, some with OBs, others with midwives. There are a billion birth videos out there, but I love this first one because it’s a wonderfully accurate depiction of birth: the mom has intense contraction waves, but is able to still laugh a little during the breaks in between. It shows her moving around and changing positions. And more importantly, it shows how gorgeous birth can be when the person giving birth is surrounded by caring providers in a calm, patient environment. On Saturday, after this video, there weren’t many dry eyes.

The birth of Cody Taylor | Waterbirth at Mountain Midwifery Birth Center in Denver, CO from crownedbirthphotography on Vimeo.

Why do I want to show you these? Because birth is usually talked about in a way that’s scary. Because birth isn’t shown realistically on TV or in the movies. Because most people never hear about the amazing empowering, positive births– only the traumatic ones.

Here’s a birth in a hospital. It is another water birth, and I’m not terribly thrilled with how long it took to get baby to the surface, but it’s cool.

Milo’s Water Birth from David Mullis on Vimeo.

Here’s a hospital breech birth–keep in mind, these care providers are taught how to deliver vaginal breech births. It is something that is possible, but ONLY when the care providers know how to handle it. There are still quite a few places where vaginal breech birth is a skill still emphasized during education and training. Unfortunately, it’s not taught in the US on anything approaching a regular basis.

Nascimento Mariana, parto natural hospitalar pélvico – 04/jul/2013 – Natural breech hospital birth from Além D’Olhar fotografia on Vimeo.

A preterm birth of a wee double rainbow baby; again, the care provider is calm, patient, and caring. Births of rainbow babies are emotionally challenging. When a family gets pregnant after a previous stillbirth or miscarriage, there’s the very reasonable fear that another loss can happen. BUT, and this is important– in these cases, it’s even more critical to have a calm, caring, supportive birth environment rather than a fearful, negative birth environment.

Double Rainbow Baby, the Birth Story of Emilia from Jennifer Mason on Vimeo.

A hospital birth in—well, not the US. I love everything about this video. Again– you see calm, patience, and encouragement.

Thomas | Parto natural hospitalar from Ana Kacurin on Vimeo.

So here’s the deal: Everyone deserves this kind of environment during birth. Full stop. It’s not about medicated, unmedicated, natural, vaginal–it’s about understanding that birth is a normal biological process. It’s about a mother who is confident in her body’s abilities. It’s about having care providers and support people present who hold the space. Birth can be positive. It’s a lot of work, it’s never easy, but it doesn’t have to suck. A triumphant experience is possible.

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Fact vs Fiction in Modern Birth: An Intro

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Childbirth is distinctly different than any other discipline of modern medicine: Unlike every other medical specialty, humans have been giving birth for as long as– well, for all of human existence. As modern medicine started to really develop at the turn of the 20th century, childbirth– once looked at a normal life process– was taken over by doctors who at first really didn’t know at all what they were doing and had very little actual understanding of the female body or birth. That either the mom or baby made it through the process of birth in early hospitals was often a matter of luck.

I joke sometimes in class that so much of what’s wrong with birth in the US, with our rising maternal morality rates, is thanks to the arrogant, misogynistic, vain, and ignorant decisions made by men of the medical establishment since at least the 1850s. Who came up with the idea that episiotomies should be routinely done without evidence to prove their claims? Men. Who decided, without any evidence otherwise that once a mom had a cesarean, all births should be cesareans after that? A man–in 1912. And I’m not saying this to make a generalization that men are terrible, but to point out so many aspects of modern birth came from those without any real knowledge of the process. Once medical research really kicked in in full force in the 1950s, we saw some outcomes in maternity care improve, but not always.  Here’s where I strongly suggest that you read Tina Cassidy’s fantastic book Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born. If you want to know the full play by play of modern maternity care–this is the book you need to read.

The reality is, while there are a few things that can be measured and quantified about pregnancy and birth (hypertension really being one of the most obvious situations, followed maybe by cholestasis of pregnancy), many doctors who provide maternity care struggle to fully grasp that birth can be really hard to study. However, just because some aspects about birth can be difficult to study or quantify, that doesn’t mean that evidence-based maternity care doesn’t exist–because it does. In addition to the 6 Healthy Birth Practices as laid out by Lamaze International, other strong resources and proponents of evidence-based care can be seen in the Report from 2008 called Evidence-Based Maternity Care: What It Is and What It Can Achieve and in the joint consensus statement  Safe Prevention of the Primary Cesarean Delivery from ACOG and SMFM, originally published in 2014 and reaffirmed this year.

I am a strong proponent of intellectualism. Our shift to anti-intellectualism in all facets of life is more than a little disturbing. And while I can’t address everything in the world, I can go through some of the aspects of maternity care in the US and abroad, explain where they originated, what the original motivations were, and place those beliefs in the continuum between fact and fantasy. This post is an introduction to what I hope will be a interesting project. The next couple of posts will cover the rise of early birth “methods”…and then see where that takes us.

Are you ready? Let’s do this.

Warmly,

Veronica

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.