Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What you didn't know about SIDS

Before I begin this post, I feel I need to give you a warning & a disclaimer.

 WARNING: This post contains details about my son's death that I haven't previously disclosed on this blog. 

DISCLAIMER: What I am about to tell you is knowledge and suggestions based on my experience. Not every SIDS mom has had my same experience & their opinions may certainly differ. Also - I hope they will not feel judgement from me or anyone else as they read this. In addition- obviously you will make your own choices about your child's sleeping environment - however because of my experience, I will strongly suggest you change it if it's unsafe. 

This post has been swirling in my mind & heart for some time. I finally have had the courage to write it down and share it. 

The official cause of death on Link's death certificate says:

Manner of death: Could not be determined.
Immediate cause of death: Sudden unexplained infant death. (SUID)

The CDC website says "Sudden unexpected infant deaths are defined as deaths in infants less than 1 year of age that occur suddenly and unexpectedly, and whose cause of death are not immediately obvious prior to investigation. Each year in the United States, about 4,000 infants die suddenly of no immediately, obvious cause. About half of these Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID) are due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the leading cause of SUID and of all deaths among infants aged 1–12 months."

So - I thought I was knowledgeable enough about SIDS. I read What to Expect When You're Expecting and What to Expect the First Year. I got the Baby Center e-mails. I had three healthy, living daughters. But I had NO IDEA. No idea. 

The thing about SIDS is that there IS no way to prevent it. True SIDS, where the infant is face-up, with no obstructions anywhere and they just "forget to breathe"... how can you prevent a death like that? I do not believe that was Link's situation, however. Not all, but most of the moms in my SIDS group found their children face down - or next to something so that they were "re-breathing" air & had a carbon monoxide-type effect on them. 

Now - I have to say here that in my heart, I know that Link's mission here on earth was finished & he had greater plans on the other side. I know that in my heart. I know that if he didn't die in his sleep, he would have left the earth a different way. Even with that said, you'd better believe I am making changes with Noelle. Changes that I hope will keep her alive. I wanted to share them with you, hoping it will help someone & possibly save someone the heart-shattering loss we've experienced.  I WISH SOMEONE HAD TOLD ME THESE THINGS

First, yes, you should do everything the CDC says to do to "reduce the risk of SIDS." You can find that list HERE. My experience, however, was that the factors in Link's death didn't have to do with most of those things. He was always put on his back. He was on a firm sleep mattress with a fitted sheet. He wasn't dressed too warmly. No one smoked around him. He did not sleep in our bed. He used a binki. He was breastfed. He was immunized. However, with all the things I did right,  there were some things I was not even aware of that I did wrong. 

*DO NOT PUT THE MATTRESS AT AN ANGLE! I think with most of my other babies, at one time or another, I put some large blankets under the head of the mattress. This helped with drainage when they had colds and I've seen it recommended for acid reflux and colic. Link's crib mattress was always at an angle in the hospital, so I figured it was safe. But, here's the thing. When I found my baby boy, his head was at the bottom of the crib. I had placed him on his back at the top of the mattress - head at the top of the mattress. I believe he started rolling and the angle of the mattress facilitated the roll and that's how he got to the bottom of the crib. Also... with his head at the bottom of crib & the mattress at an angle, it was that much harder for him to lift his head. I just don't think he had the neck strength. IF you REALLY need to have the mattress at an angle, I would recommend The Guardian Sleeper. You can actually strap them into the crib with no way of rolling. Noelle has been using it for a couple of months. It takes some time to get used to, but gives me so much piece of mind! 

*STOP SWADDLING ARMS WHEN THEY SHOW SIGNS OF ROLLING! After watching The Happiest Baby on the Block before having my first baby, I decided my babies were all going to be swaddled - and they loved it!! They always calmed right down and felt so secure. Link wasn't swaddled when he was in the hospital the first 2 months of his life, but after he got home, I found that he really loved it. At one point, I thought maybe he was getting too big to fully swaddle, so I tried to just swaddle his lower half. He really hated it. He didn't sleep as long or as soundly so I went back to fully swaddling him. Biggest mistake I've ever made in my life. He was fully swaddled when I found him and I cannot help but believe that if his arms were not swaddled, he would have been able to push up and gain the neck strength to get out of the situation. Nowhere does it say this on the CDC website. In fact, many sites recommend swaddling to REDUCE the risk of SIDS. I think you are safe to swaddle until they start rolling - no more than 2 months. Noelle fought me on this, too, & wouldn't sleep as good without being fully swaddled, but you know what? Sorry to be abrupt, but I'll take a fussy baby over a dead one any day!!

*BE VIGILANT AT NAP TIME! I know most people believe that babies usually die in their sleep at night, but many babies in our SIDS group, including Link, died during the day. So - while the CDC says to share a room with your baby until they outgrow the risk (which we do with Noelle), many times it happens during nap time when neither parent is in the room anyway! Right now, I always have a video monitor on her when she takes her naps & I carry that video monitor with me. 

*NO BLANKETS OR BEDDING IN CRIB AT ALL & NO BUMPERS! This is one that is on the list for the CDC. Seriously, though. How many of us just plop our baby in an empty crib? It seems so cruel. Ireland LOVED having things near her face - her hands, her blanket... anything within reach. I bought this whole new crib set for Link - including a $60 bumper set. He was nowhere near the bumper when I found him. HOWEVER, there were blankets at the bottom of the crib. I put them there, thinking they were nowhere near his face - and he couldn't roll from his back to his tummy yet - so it shouldn't be a problem, right? WRONG. Many of us found our babies dead on their tummies and it was only the first or second time they had known of them rolling over. The blankets were not covering Link when I found him, but they were around him and, again, it leads me to believe the re-breathing theory. Just GET RID of the blankets and the bumpers. Trust me. It's not worth it.  (For comfort purposes, again  - the Guardian Sleeper would be safe, or get a sleep sack)

Another thing you didn't know (you might assume, but don't really understand the magnitude of)  is the devastation that SUID or re-breathing or asphyxiation or whatever you want to call it, leaves behind. There is no way to fully describe it. And I will do everything in my power to stop it from happening again. I am not asking you to go buy a bunch of monitoring devices like many of us post-SIDS moms do, but hopefully these suggestions are straight-forward enough that you can follow through with them - even when it's hard. 
Because let me tell you something...
 it was never going to happen to me. 
To us.
To him. 


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

September Newsletter & Slideshow

Hamilton Newsletter
September 2014

FAMILY:  September was great – getting back into routines and – toward the end – the weather finally cooling down. The first weekend in September, we headed up to SLC for Caden’s blessing. We got there early enough on Friday to relax, which was good, because Saturday was busy! Grandpa Potts & Heidi went for a run (& saw a beautiful rainbow!!) then we went to the NAMI walk at Liberty Park in honor of Aunt Al Thea (we had pictures of her pinned to our backs). After that, Jason took the girls to the Comic Con to see all the neat things there and to visit Joseph at his booth, selling fake guns. They were there for most of the day, but had a great time! Sunday was Caden’s blessing and it was wonderful to see family & friends & celebrate our cute nephew/cousin! We also had a little celebration for the September birthdays at Trisha’s. On the 4th, Jason took the girls to Watchdog Night – they had fun playing and eating pizza! The 9th was McKinley’s Magical Birthday – she turned 9 on 9-9! See her section for details J On the 13th, Heidi & Grandpa Potts ran the Cedar City ½ marathon! Also, Heidi’s friend, Robyn, stayed with us overnight & ran too! Unfortunately, Grandma Potts was sick & couldn’t come. Grandpa was so nice to watch the older girls for a bit so Jason & Heidi could go on a little lunch date to the French Bakery. Thanks Grandpa!! The 14th was the Primary Program & Grandpa stayed to watch – our family sang Families Can Be Together Forever at the beginning of the program. Each girl had a speaking part and Ireland got to sing Baptism with the other kids in her class. They all did great & It turned out really neat.  On the 22nd, we headed up the canyon for FHE to see the fall leaves. It was just beautiful up there & the girls had a wonderful time gathering leaves & then playing at the playground at Woods Ranch. On the 23rd, we went to the library as a family & enjoyed choosing books, then listening to storytime. It was all about Pirates & Ireland & Kezia made hats and eye patches & went on a treasure hunt! On the 26th, we headed to St. George & Keeley was so sweet to watch the girls while Jason & Heidi went to the temple for the first time since Noelle was born. It was wonderful & much-needed! Afterwards, we celebrated Piper Ballou’s 4th birthday with cake & ice cream. On the 27th, we headed over to the pumpkin festival. There had been a lot of rain, so they moved it to the rodeo grounds. We got there late, so we didn’t get to see or do much, but the girls still had fun taking pictures, making foam Halloween decorations, going “fishing” for prizes, and picking up a home depot kit that they each worked on the next day & finished – 2 birdhouses and a bug house J That night, mom & McKinley went to the women’s conference. It was wonderful!  Our garden has been producing like crazy this month & we are enjoying LOTS of large tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, pear tomatoes, red & yellow bell peppers, onions,  & peas. Our watermelon & pumpkins are also taking over our side yard & should be ready soon! It has been fun to get a “harvest” this year. We had a dentist appointment at the end of the month – the good news is that McKinley is cavity-free (great job McKinley!) while the rest of us need to go back L  

JASON:  Jason enjoyed going to Comic Con & seeing all the costumes and characters. He especially enjoyed going to a seminar about the creation of Lord of the Rings. Jason enjoyed the Watchdog night at North Elementary & signed up for 2 days of being a watchdog (going to the girls’ school and helping out) On the 13th, After the half marathon, Grandpa Potts took Jason to the SUU homecoming game. Unfortunately, SUU lost, but Jason had a great time & really enjoyed the game. Thanks Grandpa! Jason started his new fleet job at the end of the month. He changed locations – he’s now over by the airport – but so far he is enjoying the work environment, getting to know the people he’s working with, and understanding the systems and programs they work with. He has been working long hours as he tries to tie up things at his budget job and transition to the fleet job. There has also been some rearranging in the Young Mens program & Jason is now going to work with the Varsity group.

HEIDI: Heidi finished the 8 week challenge the beginning of September with a total weight loss of about 20 pounds. Yay! She took 4th place, so no prize money, but she was just glad to lose weight & be healthier! The half marathon was a great race. Unfortunately, Heidi lost her dad before the race started & didn’t catch up to him till mile 8! By that time, dad was losing steam. They ran together for about 4 miles & then dad told Heidi to finish it off. In the end, Heidi finished at 1:44, 13th in her age group. Dad was only a couple minutes behind & got 2nd place in his age division. Great job Dad! Heidi also enjoyed a nice hike with Noelle & Kezia one beautiful morning – she hiked the upper Alpine Pond trail & had a wonderful, soul-filling morning J Heidi has been working hard getting read for winter. She did a freezer meal swap with some friends at the beginning of the month & filled her freezer with 24 meals! Yay! And then the next week, she canned & froze a whole lot of pears and peaches with her amazing friend Diane. She also hit the caselot sale & got some great deals. It feels great to have a full freezer & pantry! 

 -HAPPY 9th BIRTHDAY McKINLEY!! She was excited for her magical birthday this year – but had a hard time deciding what she wanted. In the end, she got a HUGE marble maze construction thing from Grandma & Grandpa Potts, some magnetic earrings & nail polish from Aunt Trisha, some foam stickers, a Simon Swipe game, and a huge art set from mom & dad. Grandma Devenish got her some clothes & she also got some money from Aunt Kim! Aunt Keeley got her a treasure box with a notebook & a multicolored pen. For breakfast, McKinley wanted cocoa pebbles, for lunch she wanted a grilled cheese/ham sandwich, and for dinner we went to KFC! Afterwards we had cake & ice cream J She got to wear her crown to school & got a nice card from her class. SO fun to have a 9-year-old!  About 2 days before her birthday, she started making each member of our family a beautiful drawing of a different animal & she gave it to us on HER birthday. SO SWEET! Thank you McKinley!
-McKinley is enjoying third grade so far – she really likes her teacher Mrs. Heap. However, she gets frustrated that her class seems very loud and rowdy. At recess, she likes to play with Jaycee, Lindsay, Kalyn & sometimes Ireland J She is in the highest spelling group & they are pretty challenging words! She’s also in the highest math group!
-For Activity Days this month, McKinley helped at the Care & Share to sort food & take a tour.
-Apparently, McKinley has inherited her dad’s greasy hair & skin. She’s started to take showers every other day & mom bought her some face wash.
-Mom went to McKinley’s SEPs at the very end of the month. Mrs. Heap was so praiseworthy of McKinley! She talked about not only what a great student she is, but what a great leader. She said one day she will be an old woman & see McKinley’s face in the newspaper J
-Unfortunately, a couple boys said some very inappropriate things to McKinley at recess. One called her fat & the other said very inappropriate things to her. Mom talked to Mrs. Heap about it & they are working with those boys.
-McKinley was the only one that had NO CAVITIES at the dentist this month! Great job McKinley!
-McKinley used almost all her birthday money (almost $40!) at the book fair. She bought a book about dogs, a book for her cousin, books for her sisters, & some erasers.
-McKinley started 4H this month. It’s an after-school program where they get to do lots of fun things. This month, they played legos and did tag games & cops & robbers. She likes to play with Dannan during 4H.

-Ireland still is enjoying 2nd grade – she loves playing with Drew and Mahina at recess!
-One morning while mom was fixing Ireland’s hair, she asked if there were any cute boys in Ireland’s class. Ireland said “Are you kiddin’ me?” Ummm… apparently there aren’t.
-One day, Ireland said “I’m never gonna be sexy when I grow up! Never!” Not sure where she got that from, but it was actually good to hear because she seems to be the one that likes to push the limits with wearing sleevless shirts and high heels.
-Ireland has struggled lately (again) with using her hands instead of her words with her sisters. Sometimes she sure seems like a bully to them. We are working with her on it and trying to role play and try again.
-When we were at the temple, Ireland was jumping on the tramp doing flips. Apparently, she landed on her neck. She was in a lot of pain for a few days afterwards, but is back to her rambunctious self. We are thankful she is okay.
-We are really proud of Ireland’s SEPs! She is the TOP READER in her class – scoring at a 4th grade level! GREAT JOB Ireland! She struggles a little bit with Math but is doing well there, too.
-Ireland had 4 cavities at the dentist this month L We bought some brand new brushes & floss to help her get motivated about brushing.

-Apparently, Kezia was a little disappointed with the Watchdog Night at North Elementary. She thought there was going to be a party with a pizza piñata (as in, pizzas coming out of the piñata). Looks like we have an idea for next year ;)
-Kezia is very tuned in to the times when mom is having a hard time concentrating. She will pipe up and say “mom – you need a rest! Can I have screen time now?”
-Mom came in one day when the girls were taking a bath to find that Kezia had brought a life jacket into the tub. Safety first! ;)
-We have loved all of Kezia’s amazing artwork. She is constantly drawing pictures and writing notes. One of our favorites was a drawing of a car, which Kezia informed mom “it will take you to what you dream about.”
-Kezia informed mom one day that she was changing her name when she grew up. Mom asked her what she was changing it to & she replied “Rosetta.” Kezia also informed her that she was going to make the house next door into a castle and live there.
-One day, Kezia was making a card & asked how to spell Happy Birthday. Mom asked who the card was for & she said “Myself!” Someone is a LITTLE excited about their birthday next month. She also has made multiple lists of what she wants – a piniata, balloons, cookies, cake & ice cream, presents, etc.
-Kezia is still loving preschool. We now carpool with Paige and a boy from Paige’s class, Spencer. She’s had fun making new friends & even got Hadley’s phone number.
 -Kezia continues to amaze us with the words she can read. She is definitely at a Kindergarten+ level! She also will do addition out of the blue! Mom was baking & had 6 eggs & asked Kezia to get 2 more. Kezia came back in and said “So – you need 8 eggs all together for that recipe?”
-Mom has loved having more mommy & Kezia time. We have played puzzles, made her name by gluing cereal & pasta, colored & Painted this month!
-Kezia had to turn in a paper all about her favorite things. She said her favorite food was macaroni & cheese, her favorite book was Can’t Sleep without Sleep, her favorite movie was The Lego Movie, and her favorite color was pink & purple.

Link’s brick was finally placed at the Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia. We are so thankful for all who contributed to it & hope to visit it one day. Mom has really paid attention lately & noticed that truly there is not a day that goes by that your name isn’t mentioned, our baby boy. We talk about what you would like, what you would not like. How you would get along with your baby sister. We saw quite a few rainbows this month & thought about you in every one!! You are so precious to us – we miss you SO much! Especially as we get to see your sister accomplish the milestones that you never did. It is so bittersweet. We love you our duder-dude!!

-Noelle turned 5 months on the 8th!! The days leading up to that day were particularly stressful, but we are SO thankful she has reached this milestone & look forward to many, many more!!
-Noelle FINALLY seems like her tummy issues have lessened – she is definitely spitting up less. Although… at the beginning of the month, mommy went to give her a kiss & she spit up right into her mouth! Yuck!!
-Noelle has really been working on her thumb. She is really good at getting it in her mouth & sometimes she’ll suck on it, but she hasn’t really figured out how to use it as a comforting measure yet. She still mostly wants to binki to be soothed. She also has really started chewing on her thumb.
-Noelle is pretty fond of paper as of late. As in, crumpling it all up and trying to eat it.
-She is getting pretty great at sitting up all by herself. We usually need something soft like the boppy around her just in case she falls over, but she’s really getting the hang of it!
-Noelle is pretty much in the “oh, that’s cool. But how can I get it into my mouth?” phase
-She is also starting to get into the arching-the-back-when-I-don’t-want-to-be-here phase. Especially in the Bumbo. She is quickly outgrowing it.
-Noelle is pretty much like clockwork when it comes to sleep. Not every night, but most nights, she has a dream feed at 10-10:30, then is up at 3 to eat & then up at 6am. It seems to be more because of habit not hunger, so we will work on getting rid of that 3am feeding soon.  She still sleeps in the Sleep Guardian at night.
-Noelle started solids at the end of the month & is really loving them!! Her favorites so far are orange/banana and sweet potatoes J
-Her naps are usually at 9am, 12ish, and around 4. She was starting to take longer naps in the afternoon, but lately hasn’t been.
-She is quite the talker – and it doesn’t sound like just random babbles either. She is really starting to use lots of vowel combinations!
-She still doesn’t love tummy time. She has definitely mastered rolling over from her tummy to her back & she is rolling to her side all the time, too, but doesn’t really roll from her back to her tummy yet.
-We all love our Noelle! She is just getting to be such a fun age ;)
-We finally sent the Snuza in to the company to get fixed because it was draining batteries every 2 weeks & sometimes dying in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, the company was not very good to work with (at all), but eventually we did get a replacement & are so thankful to have a working Snuza!
-She really loves her sisters & smiles and laughs at them all the time. Constantly, we talk about what Noelle will be like when she grows up – the clothes she will fit into, the colors she will like, etc.
-We usually call her Noelle-my-bell J
-Noelle loves her jumper & exersaucer!