Monday, April 16, 2012

Roger Didn't Sleep for a Year: From a Father

Jeff Turner has self-published several books containing letters to his children. Notes to Stephanie: Middle Aged Love Letters and Life Stories, as well as the latest upcoming book Notes to my Kids: Little Stories About Grown Up Kids. He is a member of Greater Ft Worth Writers and an IT Project Manager with a passion for photography. Below is an excerpt from his latest work soon to be published.

To Roger…

After your less than typical birth your days as a baby at home were not very ordinary either. Most babies wake up a lot needing a bottle or a diaper change but after a while they will sleep most of the night; a certain relief to the very tired parents. But you woke up a bit longer than most babies do. You did not sleep all night for an entire year after you were born. Your mom and I were simply exhausted by then and when you finally snoozed eight hours it was a blessed event.

There were a couple of reasons for this. One was that you simply did not sleep well, maybe from being sick more often, and also from the condition of your lungs, which were still stressed.

But the biggest reason was the heart and lung monitor you had to wear over your little pajamas. That device was supposed to set off alarms if you stopped breathing or your heart stopped, or if it thought that happened. That infernal machine was a bit sensitive; it would go off if you simply turned on your side or stretched out. There were many, many nights that it went off suddenly. Your mom and I would awake in panic and fear and pick you up to see if you were OK. One of us would be readying the oxygen tank by your bed or thinking of doing infant CPR. In the dark at those frightening moments nothing else mattered, we had to see how you were. And without a doubt these alarms woke us up better than any alarm clock.

Maybe one time you really did briefly stop breathing due to sleep apnea as opposed to something worse. But the device going off was a regular thing and after a point your mom and I were simply worn out. Sometimes your sets of grandparents would keep you one night to give us some needed rest - a night without the alarm going off. We would sleep soundly but when we awoke the first thing we did was call to see how you were. And hear about the alarm going off from MeeMaw or Grandmama. That cycle went on for months until you finally did sleep all night. And that dreaded monitor and its alarm went from our house for good to torment and alert some other family with a sick child by their side.

But I had to remember one thing about the monitor. While not getting sleep was bad, the thought of not having you around was far more terrible. That commonplace medical device was always a reminder that things could have been much, much worse. So when I think back about those times I can now smile and see you as the grown man you are now. And you still sleep all night, I suppose.


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Thorne said...

That must have been pure terror for new parents. You don't sleep well with a sick child, but when its life is in question.. Glad he made it. Nice post.

Jeff Turner said...

He is 27 now and is doing well. I can truly say there were other trying situations but seeing him now as a hard working, talkative young man the sleepless nights were well worth it.

Cal said...

Hey Jeff:
I think you got the title wrong. It should have been " I Didn't Sleep For A Year." Seriously, a sick child can really keep you up and worrying even if everything seems okay.

Ruby Johnson said...

When I read this I thought of my niece who lost a baby through crib death. Thank God you had a monitor for your boy and it's great to know he's grown up so well.It really was a heart touching post. Thanks for posting.

Jeff Turner said...

Thanks to everyone. Indeed one keeps worrying..... There were many other emotional and trying moments. And the moments of relief and thankfulness as you will see in the book when it is out.

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