Just Breathe

Fat cheek overflow
Fat cheek overflow

I’ve been sleeping on the floor in Marshall’s room each night.  Sleeping is, of course, something that doesn’t happen much when you are the parent of most seven month-olds, although by this point Quinn was starting to sleep for most of the night, waking up once on average.  Once I can handle.  Add Marshall’s difficulty breathing and sleep apnea, and it’s a recipe for midnight disaster.  Between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., he’ll wheeze and gasp for breath frequently, wake himself up with his breathing troubles, and need to be soothed back to sleep with either a bottle or some rhythmic bum-tapping up to half a dozen times.

It was getting to be all too much to drag myself out of bed in the middle of the night to make the ten-step walk to his room, pick him up, and rock him back to sleep.  I just couldn’t do it anymore.  So, I did what ever desperate father with a wish for sleep deprivation-caused heart failure would do – I moved myself into his room.

As I type this post, Marshall is in his crib next to me in his small room, wheezing like an old pickup truck.  He snores not unlike an old dog might (or even his old man), but with each little whine, I tense up, ready to prop myself up, reach my hand over the railing, and start patting his diaper-clad bottom.  If that doesn’t work (and at least once or twice a night it doesn’t), I resort to the precious breast milk that Bridget is still pumping out a few times a day.

The first few nights of this were great.  It was like camping out in the woods.  I’m on the floor with my invaluable CPAP machine, a couple of books, there’s a little reading light next to me, and there were even a few times when I had the Blue Jays baseball game on the computer (sound muted, of course).  But just like the overnight stays at the hospital followed by days of work earlier this year, it’s starting to catch up to me.  I’m so tense with each sound he makes that I might as well not sleep at all most nights.  If it weren’t for the massive coffee each morning, I’d be in trouble.  Boy, when the caffeine kicks in just as the morning bell rings, I’m raring to go!  As an added bonus, my students have enjoyed the spontaneous dancing that happens as the coffee hits my system hard.


Marshall is scheduled to have stents put in to hopefully ease his sleep apnea symptoms.  This is supposed to happen within the next few months, and for now, we’re trying to stay positive until it happens.  Me, I’m just trying to hold off the inevitable nervous breakdown until the winter holidays when I can at least curl up on the couch and sob to myself while holding my cats and watching ’80s teen movies.  Every time he gasps for breath, I think of the harm it might be doing to his brain development.  This surgery, while it will worry me to no end when it happens, can’t come soon enough for my liking.

The euphoria of all the recent good news from his ophthalmology tests, his MRI, and his CT scans is hard to remember when it’s 2:48 a.m., and I’ve managed to squeeze in only an hour of sleep since the last stirring.   Thankfully, the warm feeling I get when I hold his fat, sweaty body in my arms calms me down.  Sure, sometimes I cry out of frustration, but when he reaches for my fingers with his little mitten hands, all is good again.

Until 4:02 a.m., at least.

Too sunny!
Too sunny!

3 thoughts on “Just Breathe

  1. That’s so rough. Is a night nurse/night doula ever an option so you can get a night or two a week? I’m assuming with the apnea co-sleeping is also out of the question.


  2. My son also has medical challenges. Your local CCAC should be able to provide you some respite care (night shifts) so you can get some precious sleep! We have 5 nights a week, it takes some getting used to ( having a stranger in your house while you sleep), but as you are aware, looking after yourself so you can take good care of M, trumps worrying about the night nurse seeing your dirty laundry piles or dishes in the sink. Every health unit across the province is different (meaning different funding formulas and priorities), but I guarantee you would qualify!


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