Monday, October 17, 2016

introducing Owlet

Every pregnancy is different, but pregnancy after miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss is in a category all its own. I know because I've listened to the stories of women whose children suffered birth trauma, like mine, as well as read pretty much every memoir I could find about loss during pregnancy and infancy. I guess I was looking for my tribe, for confirmation that my feelings are normal. I've learned that no matter how many children you've birthed before, pregnancy after a loss is like starting all over again – not fresh, but in a new paradigm. It is a paradigm in which bad things really do happen in low-risk situations, vigilance is required to prevent tragedies and yet, alas, not all dangers can be avoided.

It's not all bad, this new paradigm. In fact, I daresay it is true. It's life.

Owlet sleep monitor

Near the end of my first trimester I concluded it was logically more likely I would give birth to a live, healthy baby than not. This didn't feel true, but I would remind myself it was true. Logically. And so began the ongoing process of reimagining motherhood.

At a Facebook support group for women pregnant after HIE (Eleni's type of brain damage), we discuss prenatal care, inductions vs. cesareans, bonding and breastfeeding. I remember when one mother asked for opinions about sleep monitors for baby. She didn't mean a sound monitor or video monitor, but rather the kind that is designed to alert you if baby stops breathing. It was early in my pregnancy, not long after Eleni had died, when the wires and beeping machines had been cleared away, and our house finally sounded more like a home than a hospital. I thought, no way. No way do I want to return to wires and monitors and alarms with my future healthy (?) baby. I can't wait to have a baby that doesn't need all that! I can't wait to raise her like I did Aria and Liam: confident, fearless, easy.

Months and months later, the topic of sleep monitors came up again on the support forum. I guess I had done some processing. For one, I knew that the mother I am is changed forever. No going back. My new “confident, fearless, easy” will be different than the old version. And I suddenly realized that just as I am opting for more vigilance to have a safer pregnancy and birth than ever before, I would rather opt for more vigilance to protect my baby after she is born.

Owlet sleep monitor

Why not a sleep monitor? It may sound a little silly, a little excessive at first, but then so did carseats once upon a time. 10 times more babies pass away from accidental suffocation than from car accidents. It's not a pretty fact, but that doesn't make it go away, unfortunately. If there is a noninvasive device that could alert me to a potentially life threatening situation, why would I not want to use it?

Owlet sleep monitor

Why indeed.

A little looking led me to the Owlet. There are several baby sleep monitors available these days, but this one makes the most sense to me. The Owlet is a pulse oximeter. This is the same technology used in hospitals to monitor heart rates and oxygen levels. Actually, we used a hospital-grade pulse oximeter at home to monitor Eleni. It was one of our most important tools.

Owlet sleep monitor

But the Owlet is better than that from my perspective. It's wireless (thank heavens!) and wears like a soft slipper, appropriately sized to fit well. It communicates data to a small, dimable device that lights up different colors designed to indicate no concerns (green), poor connection (blue), low battery (yellow) or breathing/heart rate alert (red).

Owlet sleep monitor

The same info can simultaneously be routed to your smart phone designed so you can receive alerts even if you step outside to get the mail. Frankly, this would have been preferred to the hospital pulse oximeter for Eleni, at times. Not when she was critically ill, but at times when she was well but we wanted to keep watch just in case. It's so wonderful that the Owlet indicates when it's just a poor sensor reading or low battery situation. And the portability is amazing! In my opinion, the Owlet combines vital information with convenience factors appropriate to a healthy baby.

Owlet sleep monitor

As part of my research I listened to what “regular” parents who've used Owlet had to say about it. I found a few instances where parents complained about experiencing 1-2 false alarms in months of use. Oh, I laughed out loud! How wonderful to only encounter false alarms! For all to be well, again and again. Sign me up for that reality! But, more seriously, several parents had found their baby not breathing well when the Owlet alerted them and were able to resolve the problem by removing a loosened blanket from the sleeping area. In one case when a baby had several alerts, the parents brought their concerns to a doctor and eventually discovered the child had sleep apnea.

This is a safety device that works. And if it goes off, there is often going to be something you can do to help. That's why I'll be using Owlet for my baby-to-be, and that's also why I wanted to share it with you. Owlet markets itself as the car seat of the crib. I think that's a fair comparison. Yes, it's somewhat pricey, but so are car seats. Yes, it'll take a bit of effort to use, but so do car seats (actually, they take considerably more!). I imagine there will come a day when using a sleep monitor like Owlet is not something that resonates mostly with parents who have experienced loss or are close to someone who has. I hope there comes a day when most of us use them.

Owlet sleep monitor

Thanks for allowing me to share. I try to go easy on projecting my new “paradigm” in this space, because I don't want to be a fear monger and I don't want to convert this to a parenting blog! On the other hand, this seemed like an important message to get out. It's something a lot of us could do, and would probably wish we had done if...

For full disclosure I should include that after deciding to use an Owlet, I contacted the company to request a complimentary device in exchange for mention on my blog. They sent one (they sent three actually; we had terribly luck between lost packages and my dog) and then patiently waited until I was ready to talk about this. October happens to be SIDS Awareness month*, and as we are just 5 weeks from induction-day I figured it was time. I will be sure to tell you what I think after baby is born, and our family has a chance to put Owlet to use.

Owlet sleep monitor

Our new master bedroom is almost ready and the bassinet is out!

*Because the cause of SIDS is unknown, Owlet cannot and does not claim to prevent it.

31 comments:

  1. Wow, my youngest is 5 and it amazes me how fast technology moves - I've never seen anything like this before. I had the monitor which had a pad that went under the mattress and detected breathing movements. Sometimes, rarely, it would beep when a child wedged themselves right in the corner of the crib (giving me a heart attack) but on the whole it was a great device that gave me a lot of peace and stopped me poking my head in the room every 5 minutes (with child 1, by child 4 it was a different story). This owlet sounds awesome - although you're going to have to become a shoe-strapping ninja if bub is asleep before she goes down!

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    1. I'm chuckling about the shoe-strapping ninja! Yes, it could come to that. I'll have to let you know! With Aria/Liam I had never even heard about the under-mattress kind of monitors. Yes, technology is changing things fast. I'm grateful that the Owlet is designed as a real pulse oximeter instead of movement sensor. With many situations, such as obstructive apnea (which Eleni had) a movement monitor would be falsely reassuring. Not that the movement monitors aren't useful, just saying that it was an easy decision for me.

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  2. We used the snuza with my first. I'd love an owlet for my baby due in December... maybe if I win the lottery ;)

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  3. How much is the peace of mind worth? The word priceless comes to mind. I haven't walked in your shoes, but I respect how much you have done to help inform others and help them. I have given small amounts of money and wished that I had much more to help you with. You need never apologize and if one parent uses this monitor and it saves a life you have done an amazing thing.

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  4. We used graseby apnoea alarm after I found our first child white (comes after blue) in the crib, he had sleep apnoea and it called me several and many times, in his first year , our second was blue when I answered his alarm ,the next two never alarmed and thankfully all 4 are super healthy now & yes pregnancy after loss is a whole different ball game ,I wish you all the best follow your heart a mothers instinct is always right

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  5. I think it's good for parents to know about the options that are out there today and then decide for themselves and their baby if they wanna use it. Personally I think more info is always good but I don't think I would use this for my baby but I like I said the decision is one each one need to make for herself.
    About your Half-Rectangle-Triangles: I'm always making my own paper-piecing patterns with butterbread paper (don't know the name for them in USA) because they are inexpensive and with the help of my cutting mat I can normally make the patterns I need in no time.

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    1. So true, Hildy - know your options and decide for yourself. That's like so many things in parenting. There are many good ways to parent, many different ways, and it's important to respect each other.

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  6. I have been thinking about you and wondering when your rainbow baby would be born. Prayers for a smooth delivery and a happy and healthy baby.

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  7. I love it. I have never heard of this, but what an incredibly useful device. Yes, we want to be relaxed and feel like we did before our hearts were wounded, but that is impossible.
    Anything that can ease our worry is "good in my book" hehe

    I brought my preemie Lizzie home one month early at 4.9 pounds
    Yes, they knew I was a nurse. Lizzie was super tiny but strong. She slept by my bed and fed her practically every hour, and any time she squeaked day or night, I was there.
    So basically, I did not sleep much.
    All of you, all 4 of you, and your extended family, are in my prayers, as always

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  8. Both my daughters used alarms and camera surveillance for their babies. At first I didn't understand the need, but the opportunity for that extra assurance was important to them. Nothing like that was available, that I knew of, when my girls were born. Looking back, i would use monitoring too.

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  9. I loved that part about how the mother you are is changed forever. Even if we don't experience the same tragedy as you, we all find that we change in ways we can't control. Accepting and being kind to ourselves is necessary for accepting and being kind to others, and I'm so glad you're not holding yourself to some standard you might have imagined for yourself many years ago. I hope this little gadget provides you with extra assurances and maybe a few more zzzzz's. I would have loved being able to worry a tiny bit less, and I know that's only exponential for you! Big hugs!

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  10. Wonderful advice and post thanks Rachel.

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  11. What a neat device!

    For a moment... after only reading the first bit... in my end-of-the-night-mama-fatigue I thought that you'd had your baby and named her Owlet! :)

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    1. That occurred to me too. But as cute as "owlet" sounds, that's not the name for us ;) Not that we have a name yet. I'm worried about that! Last night I was combing through the Baby Name Wizard book again.

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  12. I totally get it. What a great little invention.

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  13. Wow, I wish I'd come across this device when I was looking a few months ago. I settled for a Snuza Go in the end, but it seems so big compared to my little newborn and he often fusses until we take it off, which defeats the whole reason for having it! He is our own little rainbow baby after suffering a miscarriage last year, and it was definitely a much more stressful pregnancy even though it went perfectly. We ended up having more monitoring and check ups than with my older children, just because I was paranoid that we'd lose him too. I'm very grateful though for the blissfully happy pregnancies I had before, when it never occurred to me that everything might not turn out ok. How lovely it would be to go back to that mental place, but then again I appreciate every second with my new baby a whole lot more, even the screaming nappy changes at 4am, because he could so easily have not been here at all. I really hope the rest of your pregnancy goes smoothly and that you find great joy when your little girl is safely in your arms!

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    1. I too am thankful for my blissful pregnancies with Aria and Liam. I am glad I was able to enjoy and anticipate in a different way then. This pregnancy has been so much harder, emotionally, but I hope there is a "payoff" of sorts when she is born, as you've described with your son. I imagine there will be different kind of gratitude for the things that "are" when she arrives.

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  14. Nice that you can add a little layer of security.

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  15. What a wonderful tool. Anything that can add relief and ease to a mother is a good thing, and that looks different for every mother. Thank you for continuing to share this journey.

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  16. I've seen ads for this device and think it's great - easy, low intervention. I hope it brings you and all your family much sound sleep! Side note: I LOVE the color you painted your bedroom! Gorgeous!!

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    1. Thanks, Sarah! I love that blue too =) My husband picked it! He is better at paint than I am, honestly.

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  17. Thank you I think I will get one for my next Grandchild as a baby gift! What a wonderful device

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  18. Your room is coming along wonderfully! Are we going to see you mama belly anytime soon? You are so beautiful pregnant! I always loved seeing those pictures of you. Xxo

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  19. What a beautiful room - great colour😍

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  20. Wow, this is a great use of technology! I will check this out for sure when the next one comes along.

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  21. Think of you often Rachel. All the best, always.

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  22. I totally understand what you mean about forums and birth boards for infant loss. I had my own set of fears, and now I know about all the other things that can go wrong. I might need to check this out soon. I just found out I'm expected and, should all go well for the next several months, I will probably be a gigantic bundle of nerves for an entirely new set of reasons. I have to consciously stop and tell myself not to be a helicopter parent with E. Dangers, everywhere!

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  23. I'm playing catch on your blog :)
    The room is looking so good! Owlet sounds wonderful and I know my husband would have especially loved to have had one for our babies.

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  24. This sounds like an amazingly helpful but non-obtrusive thing to have. My brother is expecting a baby in the spring - I wonder if this is something he and his wife would appreciate (along with all the quilts and clothes I can sew and knit!)

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