When I was pregnant with our rainbow baby, it was hard for me to purchase anything for him. I wanted to, but the death and stillbirth of our daughter loomed large in my mind and I was afraid to bring more baby items into our home that might go unused. But as his due date drew near, my nesting instinct kicked in and I began to collect items that would help me to navigate the stressful early days of rainbow motherhood.
Because, as scary as it was being pregnant again after a loss, that fear did not instantly disappear when my son was (thankfully!) born alive and healthy. I was — and, five months later, remain — afraid that SIDS might claim his life. However, I also know that basic precautions aside, it is not possible to prevent SIDS. It is, by definition, unable to be predicted or (if you are following safe sleeping guidelines) prevented.
With that in mind, I knew that I needed to find ways to keep myself sane in the early days and weeks of my son’s life. I needed to be able to sleep, and knew that I wouldn’t be able to if I was constantly worrying about SIDS or other potential problems. So I gathered items that would help me and my baby sleep, and prevent me from going out of my mind. These are my top picks for saving your sanity during rainbow parenthood:
1. Snuza Halo Baby Movement Monitor — The Halo is a small monitor that clips onto your baby’s diaper and tracks his movement (including breathing movement). If the monitor detects no movement for fifteen seconds, it will vibrate in an attempt to rouse the baby, and then sound an alarm to alert you after twenty seconds. This is my number one recommendation for managing fear of SIDS. We’ve had a few [ridiculously scary] false alarm when the monitor got jostled out of place, but it has helped me to rest relatively peacefully. Our son wears his at night, for naps in his swing (in combination with a traditional audio baby monitor), and while traveling in the car.
2. AngelCare Movement & Sound Monitor – The AngelCare monitor is like a combination of a regular baby sound monitor and the Halo. It is made to be used while your baby is sleeping in her crib. A sensor pad that detects movement goes under the crib’s mattress, sending a record of each movement along with audio monitoring to the parent units. Like the Halo, a loud alarm will sound if the monitor is unable to detect movement.
I’ve heard that the AngelCare isn’t sensitive enough with a single sensor pad once your baby starts being able to move around the crib, but we bought the system with two sensor pads and haven’t had any complaints. That said, our baby is a very stubborn anti-crib sleeper, so we haven’t used the AngelCare as much as we thought we would. I recommend this for crib sleepers, but I say hold off until you know for sure if your baby is going to be one.
3. Video Baby Monitor — We didn’t purchase one of these, but I wish we had. As much as I love the monitors we use, sometimes nothing but a visual cuts it. Our house is very squeaky, so despite repeated hinge oilings, opening the door to our son’s room to check on him during his nap is sure to produce a sleep-ending creak.
4. Fisher-Price My Little Snugabunny Deluxe Rock ‘n Play Sleeper – One of the safe sleeping recommendations is that your baby sleep in the same room as you, preferably within an arm’s reach. There are many ways you can accomplish this safe co-sleeping arrangement. This is particularly good for babies with reflux, and it gave me a little more peace of mind to know that the incline made it easier for spit up to run out of my son’s mouth. It also creates a cozy sleep environment, which makes an easier transition from the womb. My one criticism of the sleeper is that I wish it rocked side to side instead of front to back. But otherwise I am pleased — this is the only place my son will sleep at night, besides in my arms.
5. Boppy Noggin Nest – This may seem like a silly thing to include on a list that includes anti-SIDS products, but babies’ heads freak me out. The soft spot, the way their skulls can quickly develop flat portions — it makes me shudder. So when I discovered the Noggin Nest, I knew I needed it. The Noggin Nest goes under the baby’s head when she sleeps and helps prevent plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome). Our son sleeps on it in his Rock N’ Play Sleeper, and has a beautifully shaped head, if I do say so myself. (Please note: the Noggin Nest is a must-have if you’re using the Rock N’ Play as I’ve heard that the sleeper’s firm backing can cause plagiocephaly.)
While we do use other products to make our lives easier, those are the items that combat fear the very best for me. What about for you? Rainbow parents, how do you protect yourself from fear?