Gigi taking a nap in her swing, as she does most afternoons.


On Saturday night, Gigi had her first trip to the ER. Scott and I had just gotten into bed when we heard a loud beep. We immediately recognized the beep as the warning signal that precedes the “Baby has Stopped Breathing” alarm on our Angelcare monitor, since we set it off almost nightly by accident. I grabbed the hand-held unit from my bedside table and saw that the “breathing” icon wasn’t moving. I screamed to Scott, who was already out of bed and on his way to her crib. He grabbed her, put her on our bed and unswaddled her. I was expecting her to cry when he picked her up, or squirm as he unswaddled her, but for a few brief moments (that felt like eternity) she seemed unresponsive. I was so relieved when she finally scrunched up her face and screamed that I sat on the bed and cried.

We put her on her changing table while we tried to figure out what had happened. She seemed perfectly fine, had stopped crying and was even smiling and cooing at Daddy the way she normally does when getting her diaper changed. Not knowing what to do, we called the nurse advice line. The nurse recommended that we take her to the ER to get checked out, just to be on the safe side. Scott and I briefly discussed whether this might have been a false alarm, since we have a VERY high deductible health insurance policy (and our last trip to the ER cost us $5,000), but we knew that neither of us would get any sleep that night if we didn’t. So, at 1 AM we bundled up a very unhappy baby and headed off to Children’s Hospital.

We were the only ones in the reception area and were taken back immediately. A nurse escorted us into a windowless room directly off the reception area that contained a large, ominous-looking metal crib, the likes of which you might see lined up side-by-side in a Romanian orphanage. It was very unsettling. We laid her down in the crib so that the nurse could take her vitals and then I tried to breastfeed her in one of those hard plastic chairs without arm rests (and no boppy) while the nurse went to consult with a doctor. I wondered how it was possible that a children’s hospital did not have a decent chair in every room for mothers to breastfeed their babies?

A few minutes later the nurse returned and led us to another small, windowless room. This room contained an adult-sized gurney, some medical equipment and, much to my dismay, two more of those hard plastic chairs. I continued to breastfeed her on the gurney while we waited for the doctor. The doctor listened to her heart and lungs, asked us about her medical history and the sequence of events, and said she thought Gigi was fine and that it was probably a false alarm. Just to be on the safe side, however, she wanted us to stay the night so that they could monitor Gigi for signs of apnea while she slept. I was a bit incredulous when she indicated that we would be spending the night in this same small, windowless room – and handed us the tv remote as if to say “All the comforts of home.”

The nurse came back with a bassinet and hooked Gigi up to the monitor. I asked if they had a blanket we could use to swaddle her (otherwise she doesn’t sleep well), and they gave us one of those blankets they use to swaddle newborns, which was much too small. When I asked if they had a larger swaddle, they brought us an adult-sized fleece blanket. When I expressed concern that swaddling her in such a large heavy blanket might cause her to overheat (a risk factor for SIDS), they brought us an adult-sized sheet! Again, I wondered how a children’s hospital could be so unprepared? In the end, we swaddled her the best we could in the newborn blanket, turned off the lights and tried to sleep – me on the gurney, and Scott on the hard linoleum floor (with the blanket and sheet they brought us for the baby). Unfortunately, the screen on the heart rate/breathing monitor was so bright it illuminated the entire room, the alarm on the monitor went off every few minutes, and the printer attached to the monitor continually spit out reems of paper with ECG tracings. At first, every time the alarm went off I thought she had stopped breathing or her heart had stopped. I would jump up and poke her to see if she was OK. When no one showed up to do anything (not even turn the alarm off), I assumed these must be false alarms. Mostly, I didn’t see how any of us were expected to sleep through all of this. At one point, Scott went out to the nurses’ station to ask if they could turn the light and sound off on the monitor in our room (since they were monitoring her remotely), but no one knew how! Despite this, we all managed to get about 3 hours of sleep.

Around 5 AM, Gigi awoke to breastfeed. The doctor came into the room and told us that everything looked good – her heart rate was strong, her oxygen intake was good, and there were no signs or episodes of apnea. We bundled her up and brought her home.

Once we got home we inspected the crib and the placement of the movement sensor pad. It turns out that Scott had placed the sensor at one end of the crib, and Gigi had managed to scoot herself into the opposite corner during the night, completely off of the sensor. A quick Google search confirmed that the monitor we were using had a high false alarm rate for this very reason.

In the end, though, I am not sorry we took her to the ER. Hearing that alarm go off on Saturday night was one of my worst fears realized. Often, in fact, the monitor itself isn’t enough for me. I continually check the screen to make sure the little pendulum thing is swinging back and forth, indicating that she is still breathing – even though it would sound an alarm if she stopped. And, even if the pendulum is swinging and the alarm hasn’t sounded but she has been completely still for more than a minute, I sometimes get nervous and check her. Scott already tells the story of how Gigi was sleeping peacefully in her swing one afternoon when I leapt off the couch and poked her hard in the chest, causing her to startle awake and cry. I had looked up and thought she was turning blue. It turned out to just be a shadow from the mobile hanging from the swing. Our ER visit, while painful on many levels, helped to alleviate my fear that she might stop breathing at any moment.

After everything we went through trying to have a baby, it is still hard, sometimes, to believe she is actually here. After years of longing and frustration, all of the disappointments, miscarriages, and dashed hopes with each new intervention, there is still a small part of me that is waiting for the other shoe to drop – afraid that someone or something will take her away from me. So I won’t be turning that monitor off anytime soon.

Gigi in her swing playing with the doll Mommy made her for Christmas.

Gigi in her bouncey chair playing with the doll Mommy made her for Christmas.

We started on the nursery this weekend! When we renovated our home 4 years ago, we knew we would eventually use the room pictured above for the nursery. It originally had sloped ceilings, so we added a dormer (center) to get more floor space. On the left is a small closet, and on the right is a built-in bookcase I designed. The hardwood floors are American Cherry, and the walls and trim are both painted in Benjamin Moore “Mayonnaise”, which gives the room a very serene feeling. I do love color, though, so today we are trying out swatches of color on the walls.

Inside the closet you can see the slope of the original ceiling.

The wall directly across from the dormer (above) is where the crib and dresser w/changing table will go. On the wall from left to right (top row) are Serena & Lily’s Citrine, Sunshine, and Shell paint colors. The stripe of color below Citrine is “Sprout”.

Another view of the closet (above, right) and the entrance to the room (above, left). Paint colors from top-left to bottom are Serena & Lily’s Citrine, Sunshine, Sprout, and Shell.

We are also considering painting the ceiling a shade of blue (below)…

From top-left to bottom-right are Serena & Lily's Signature Blue, Bluebell, Air, and Pool.


Paint samples, or as my husband refers to this picture "My wife's OCD in action."


Here is a good “before” photo of what life looks like in our home now. Fairly quiet, peaceful, clean. I like to look at this picture and imagine how different life will look 6 to 8 months from now. The first thing to go? Probably the broken shards of sea glass scattered over the floor of the fireplace for decoration 🙂