Hold Your Breath

Over the last few nights, my younger daughter Chloe has been doing this odd thing, once a night.  A little background first:

A while ago, I wrote about how different my daughters are.  One of the big differences is the way they sleep.  I could literally remodel Julianna’s room while she’s sleeping and she’d be fine.  With Chloe, its a little different.  With her, if our thoughts are too loud she wakes up.  Their own respective environmental needs aside, both girls sleep very well for essentially the same time, about 12 hours.  No complaints whatsoever.  Back to the odd thing…

For 3 nights in a row, followed by a night off, and then another incident night, Chloe would wake up about 2 hours after she goes to sleep making this awful choke/gasp/yelp/cough sound.  It doesn’t last long.  She then cries for a few minutes as if to say, “this is so annoying, now I have to fall asleep all over again.”  It only takes a few minutes and then she’s happily asleep again.  It doesn’t happen again the rest of the night.  So what could it be?

My wife and I tried to evaluate what mind be causing this because its actually a little scary.  Here is what we know:

  • The first night it happened was also the first night she slept with her new pillow pet.  She had been sleeping with a fake pillow pet before that was falling apart so we replaced it with the real deal.  She loves it.  Its a dog called CoCo and if I didn’t think I’d be ridiculed, I’d use one too.  They look very comfortable.  They also include the word “pillow” in their title so I’m pretty sure its safe.  That being said, you can’t deny the timing of the arrival with the timing of the arrival.
  • She has a good amount of “friends” in her crib.  You have those crazy Backyardigans, some small stuffed dogs as well as her favorite blankies.  One of the blankies is a very small handkerchief size and the other is a toddler blanket.  Both of those have been with her a long time.  They are parts of the family.
  • She (and the rest of us) has a cold she’s been fighting for the last 34 months that includes a cough that gets a little worse when she is in the crib for an extended time.

Maybe she’s allergic to the pillow pet?  Maybe she’s sticking the little blanket in her mouth and gagging herself?  Maybe she’s having a bad dream?  Who knows.  If it were Julianna, I’d just go in and watch.  Because its Chloe, I can’t go in because it’ll wake her up.  Waking up 2 hours after she goes to sleep is a disaster.  That’s just enough time to count as a good nap.

So we called the pediatrician who we love.  She told us a few things:

  • If pillow pets were a problem, there would be a ton of kids with serious issues.
  • If she were allergic to the pillow pet, it would happen all night, not just once.
  • If it were the cold, it would probably get worse throughout the night or at least be consistent.

Well what should we do?  Here was her suggestion:  Reset Chloe’s sleep cycle.  Huh?

Its possible, she explained, that the time that it is happening is a time when she is switching between “sleep levels” or something like that and the transition isn’t going well.  Well I don’t really understand all that but it sort of makes a little sense to me.  Fine.  How do we reset her sleep cycle?  Simple…

Go into her room a little before the time when she usually has her “moment” and gently rouse her.  Not a lot though, just enough so that she just wants to fall right back asleep.  Essentially reset her night.  Oh well that’s just fantastic.  Have you met my daughter?  There’s never been a “gentle rousing”.  Its always a “Hey daddy, let’s go downstairs and play!  WOO HOO!”.

And then it was time…my wife and debated about who should go in and risk being trapped for 3 hours.  I “won”.

I sneaked over to her room.

I gently placed my hand on the door knob.

I slowly started to turn it and at exactly the right moment, gently push the door in.

And then she was sitting right up.  The door wasn’t even 2 inches open.

Think fast Matt.

Ah hell…I walked right in and said in a whisper, “Chloe, put your head back on the pillow and daddy will rub your back.”

And she did.  What?

And I did.

And then I walked out.

No crazy gasping/choking noise that night.


Now to do it all over again tomorrow.