In April of 2014, my wife got her dream job of being a nurse in the emergency room department at a level 5 trauma center in Salt Lake City. We were pretty excited that she would get to be at a top notch and challenging place for work. I did not think it at the time, but getting that job was not just good for her, it was the best thing for my not-even-yet-conceived-baby-boy and me.
About a year or so later the cutest, squeakiest little boy James was born. I was amazed how my wife and him instantly had a powerful bond. To be honest, I really felt left out. It’s like my wife was meeting a long lost friend with my son and I was making awkward conversation at a cocktail party. I was hoping for the deep emotional bond that I had heard about. I didn’t get it. I felt like I still had to get to know him. As the weeks went on my heart was slowly melted down from its original form and put back together to function and feel in ways that I had not felt before. I learned to feel love so strongly for my son that I would tear up often just thinking about him. At one point I jokingly said to my wife, “Wow! I love this little guy soon much! In fact, if what I am feeling for him is ‘love’ then I am not so sure what me and you have, Babe.” As is per the usual, I giggled to myself and my wife held back any sign of laughter as to not endorse my lame jokes.
When my son turned 10-weeks-old, my wife prepared to go to do her first 12-hour night shift since James was born. It was a pretty emotional day, so emotional, it got its own Facebook post. 😉
I was not worried to watch my son. After all, I had been there every day of his life helping my wife.
With my wife being a labor and delivery nurse and me at Owlet, I don’t know how we could talk more about babies in our lives. That is until we found out we were expecting with baby #2. Now we are in full baby mode! With our first baby, our son James, my wife surprised me on Valentine’s Day. I can still remember the deep realization that I was going to be a father, and how I teared up with excitement and awe that my wife and I would be creating and raising a little life together. It was such a special moment that I will always remember.
This time, however, my wife wasn’t able to pull off the surprise announcement. We were trying to get pregnant with no success. She had stopped using the pregnancy test strips because it made her to sad to keep getting a negative result. Then one morning I hear a gasp from the bathroom. I thought she saw a spider or something. (My wife could train street fighters she is so tough but something about spiders turns her into a wet noodle.) However, it was better than a spider. We were pregnant! She was, however, super bummed that she spoiled the surprise.
I have been at Owlet since the beginning. After about a year of being at Owlet, my wife and I got pregnant. So I, unlike many parents, knew waaay more about babies, birth, and sleep than your average pre-parent. Working in such a tender industry, I also knew a lot about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, and safe sleep habits. I would read hundreds of sad stories about infants who had been accidentally suffocated in many different ways or who had passed away in their sleep from SIDS. So when it came to choosing safe sleep with my newborn son James, I should have known better.
Bad Habits from the Hospital
It all started in the hospital after our son was born. The nurse let my wife sleep with James in her arms. I remember thinking “You are a NURSE! You should know better!” After the nurse left I picked my child out of my wife’s arms and put him back in his clear sleeping pod next to my wife’s hospital bed. Feeling like I had done the right thing, I went back to sleep on the couch in our hospital room. After being woken up to feed our screaming baby 7 more times in the night, the nurse came in and helped my wife, but this time she said “Daddy needs some snuggle time too” The nurse picked up our little boy and brought him over to the couch that I had made into my bed. I started to sit up and she said, “No it’s ok,” and she laid him next to me. This time, the nurse’s actions, even though they were wrong, were very different. It felt so right to have my son a few inches away so that I could protect him. Instead of feeling that helplessness as he lay alone in his hospital bassinet, I felt secure, like I could control and prevent any problems. It felt like I was fulfilling a sort of primal urge by sleeping close to my son.
When my wife and I came home we set up the bedside bassinet, but the first night he only lasted a few minutes in there. “We have a king sized bed!” we justified. “We have slept with Marley for 2 years, and never rolled on top of her!” (Marley is our 4lb Yorkie-Chihuahua that had shared the bed with us since she was just a puppy.) We told ourselves: “Just for the first few nights”. It felt so right to co-sleep that I looked online for any kind of research that supported co-sleeping. We justified a lot so that my conscience would let me sleep (or I guess, co-sleep…). I did not tell anyone at Owlet that my wife and I co-slept. In fact, many of them will find out for the first time by reading this blog post.