Saturday, January 4, 2014

What Doesn't Cause SIDS And 6 Things Every Parent Should Do

Kaden Michael Frey
September 12, 2003-January 04, 2004

Ten years ago today my baby boy, Kaden, died of SIDS. In all the years that have passed, I still don't think I will ever be entirely rid of the sense of guilt a parent feels when a child dies on their watch.

For as many times as I have replayed all the events and details of the night I found him lifeless in his crib, I have googled an equal number of corresponding articles and scientific studies that accuse me of everything I did wrong.  According to statistics, I killed my baby. And for many years I accepted that. I deserved that. Apparently what I did do "right" didn't matter because I ultimately failed my son and now he is gone. I wish someone could have convinced me what a lie that was.

It is hurtful that human nature’s need for answers and someone to blame ultimately surmises that parents are responsible for these deaths. And even more disheartening is people's dependence on a false sense of security and control that will undoubtedly continue to perpetuate this lie for centuries to follow. Despite that I'd nurtured and raised three infants from birth to childhood without a hitch prior to Kaden, admittedly there is still a part of me that believes this lie.  But every year it’s just a little bit less, and at least I can look myself in the mirror now.

SIDS wasn't even on my radar when I had Kaden.  Statistically, SIDS would not visit any of my children, so why would I worry about something that would never happen?!  Besides, I was a spirit filled Christian who fully believed in the healing power of my faith rather than the sovereignty of my Creator. I had faith in my faith; SIDS and disease, sickness and death happened to other people (there’ll be more on this another day).  

The point is, I cared for my baby boy like any loving, doting mama would. I was designed to be his mommy and he was made just for me. I did what was individually best for each of my babies. But as a novice mom, I didn’t have a "system" or particular routine for my infants. I didn’t follow a book or have access to the interwebs to tell me how to raise my babies.  I winged it, like so many hundreds of generations before me. I trusted my gut, learned how to read the finite and subtle cues of each child. I followed my instincts and sought out wiser, seasoned moms for their advice. Until Kaden passed away, I never questioned my ability to mother my own babies, much less keep them alive.

It was the early 90’s when I had my first child. I bottle-fed Elih. I let him sleep beside me in my floppy plastic waterbed. I let him snooze in his swing--in the other room where I was not present. I allowed Elih to roam the house unattended in a rolling walker and I put him on a leash when we went to the mall. I strapped his car seat into the front passenger side of my vehicle. I didn't change his diapers every 2 hours, either. However, I did have Elih sleep on his side, per Doctors orders. At the time it wasn't “safe” to let babies sleep on their backs, they could spit up and choke, or their tongue could cut off their air supply. As an 18 years old mom, who was I to question this gospel "truth"?  I'm honestly a little surprised he survived.

Five years later my second child, Jared, slept in a bassinet beside our bed, because co-sleeping could be deadly the experts told us. We would probably smother him or he would grow up needy and co-dependent. I nursed Jared but like my first child, I propped his bottles with a blanket to free up my hands when he started weaning. We also let Jared bounce in his Johnny jump-up, scarcely jerry-rigged from the door frame. Studies hadn't emerged yet that we were the worst parents ever. 

We'd never owned a baby monitor until our 3rd child, Jamey.  By this time I’d managed to do some things "right," but mostly I still did what I thought was best for him.
We had Jamey sleep on his back because now science said it was tummy sleeping that would kill him. Even though he was projectile puker and could possibly choke to death, we took the risk in the name of "new" research. Oh, and we co-slept because studies now said it would make him a more grounded and trusting human… Ok that's a lie; really I was just lazy and didn’t want to get out of bed for midnight feedings.  But because Jamey couldn’t keep anything down (besides the fact he was horrible at nursing), at two months of age I began supplementing breast milk with a rice and formula mix in his bottle. By then we’d eighty-sixed the rolling walker and Johnny-jump up and instead let him spend the first half of his life in his activity bouncer. Clearly, we were improving.

By the time we had our fourth son, Kaden, I had 12 years of parenting under my belt. I felt pretty confident to tackle raising another baby. And like all his brothers before him, Kaden loved his pacifier. And oh, we loved how that magical latex plug gave us a few precious moments of peace. Unfortunately, this little guy came out of the gate lactose intolerant. Nothing was more peculiar to me than a newborn with stinky farts, it was almost adorable. However, he was nursing exclusively so it meant I had to make concessions in my diet and I tried to eat what the internets told me to eat.

By the time he was 3 1/2 months old, he was plumping up nicely. He wasn't a puker and was pro at nursing.  But due to his chronic tummy bubbles, I would occasionally allow him to sleep on his belly. Sometimes that was the only way he would go to sleep. On those nights I would wait till he was in a deep coma before I would return him to his backside. Besides the intercom system we used to monitor his sleeping, I'd developed a good habit of checking in on my kids periodically while they slept.  I still do. 

Life couldn't have been better. My business was doing well and clients got a kick out of Kaden tagging along with me. Our big new and improved  family was just wrapping up our first holiday season together. By all appearances, doctor visits and vaccinations, our little boy was a perfectly healthy and normal 15 1/2 pound chunk of squishy goodness. 

And then one night, he just died.

The medical examiner called it SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome.  On the phone, as we combed over his autopsy report together, she lamented that there was absolutely no reason for his death. He definitely didn't suffocate or choke, she reassured. All his little baby pieces were perfect. I'm so sorry, she said. He was a beautiful, healthy boy, she said. She went on to try and console and convince me there's nothing we could have done to prevent his senseless death.

If science knew what caused SIDS it wouldn't be called SIDS. All the studies available are just a bunch of guesses and correlations, nothing else. She explained that the medical profession suspects the cause of SIDS is more likely a trigger, or lack thereof, in the brain that causes or the heart and lungs to shut down simultaneously.  She apologized for our loss.

And so began my relentless voyage on the Googles. For every study or scientific “evidence” that claimed one method caused SIDS, there was another or ten that disputed it.  According to research, smoking and drinking parents better beware! But if tummy sleeping really caused SIDS, where was the epidemic in the 70's, when tummy sleeping was the rule?  Back and side sleeping are also highly debated and none of the hypothesis’ are of any solace to the moms whose babies died in their arms or the dad’s who lost their child asleep on their laps. But good news? Statistics show nursing babies are at the least risk! Really? Then where are the mass graves of  all the bottle-fed baby boomers that should have died from formula?! And God forbid you vaccinate or don't vaccinate or give your child a pacifier! Or wait, what was that? Pacifiers now prevent SIDS? Ok, got it.  *eye roll*

The only definitive correlation I have found is that SIDS is more common in male Caucasians of European descent, between the ages of two months to a year, most commonly happening around the third through fifth months. So if we use conventional internet wisdom, and you have a white baby boy the age of 4 months, he is in the gravest danger of getting SIDS.

And that’s when I called bull$#*%.

The insanity of SIDS is that one can’t contract it, it is not a disease or virus or malady or curse. Neither can you cause it, because the very nature of the assignment of this condition is that it is unknown.  SIDS is only assigned when an analysis of the death of a baby is inconclusive, where no reasonable cause can be determined.  Don’t be fooled by all the current research and studies out there, they only offer correlations at best, not causes. They are mere observations, not reasons. If a baby’s death is caused by suffocation, it is not SIDS. If an infant dies of choking, it is not SIDS. If you lose your child to a diagnosis, it is not SIDS.

All frustration aside, I do believe with all my heart there is a scientific reason for SIDS and I even donate to medical research in hopes they find the actual origination of it.  Is it hereditary, is it preventable, is it a birth defect? Does anything actually "cause" it?  These are the most emergent questions still left unanswered. Meanwhile, we who have lost and paid the ultimate price of SIDS, are constantly being patronized, reminded and accused of all the hundred different ways we possibly killed our babies. While cautiously nervous and proactive new parents of infants are being placated with inaccurate data offering them a false sense of security, suggesting they have some fictitious element of control. They are also being barraged with conflicting propaganda, trying to sell them the latest gadget or book that will “prevent” something that can’t be prevented.

It needs to stop. For these reasons I don’t speak much on the topic of SIDS, though I do love to talk about my son. But even ten years after his passing, it's still too close to home to mull over the sorted details of his death. Instead I prefer to remember his life and focus on how much he changed mine. Grieving Kaden for the rest of my life is the currency I pay for the short 115 days we had him, and honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way. Asking why, beating myself up, regretting the woulda-coulda-shoulda's is not something I'm willing to do anymore.

My prayer is that these few words I have to offer will be some measure of comfort for someone else who has lost their baby for no explainable reason:

  1. Forgive yourself. It's not your fault. No, it's not.
  2. Don't allow fear to steal away the gift of another child if one day you decide to open your heart to having another baby.
  3. Losing a child doesn't define you. If anything, it strips us of our preconceptions and widens our boundaries. Now live like you mean it.

And to the parents of precious new littles born every day, my hope for you  is this:


  1. Don't be anxious about what hasn't happened. Live in the present, enjoy your babies!!!
  2. Don’t make fear based choices or live in trepidation of something you have no power to control. No, you don't.
  3. IF SIDS happens to you (and it probably wont) you’ll be grateful for the sacred time you spent with your baby not wasted on worrying. And you’ll be left with all the carefree memories you made while they were here. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

4 Reasons Why Introverts Don't Want To Go To your "Team Building" Seminar and 7 Ways You Can Possibly Manipulate Us Into Going

1.  As a true blooded introvert, forced socialization is draining.  Now multiply that by thrusting me into a contrived scenario, purely for the sake of  drawing me out of my "shell," breaking down my "walls" and bonding my inner child to yours; I will find the experience excruciating.

Believe me, this personality trait makes being a believer in Jesus very, super duper hard, because the whole foundation of my faith rests on the nonnegotiable fact that I am called to be a servant to others, that God works through me and that absolutely involves interacting with people. And Lord as my witness, merely attending corporate church services is a mighty act of courage and ginormous leap of faith for me-- to which I'm positive God awards me extra heaps of brownie points for participating (I kid).


2.  I don't want to be caught dead in a situation that is embarrassing or makes me feel uncomfortable or awkward. And who does, really? But the nature of  these group gatherings are notorious for doing just that. Most introverts don't wear their hearts on their sleeves and small talk rates the same on our fun-list as sanding our teeth on a rock. Unfortunately, these "Team Builders" usually necessitate exercising both criteria to be deemed "successful." And to many of my emotionally extroverted peeps, getting someone to cry is the holy freaking grail.



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

10 Reasons Why Moms Should Do ALL The Laundry

A really smart blogger mom-friend of mine once posted on the Facebook, "If you have a kid who is old enough to operate a tablet/video game/smart phone and you are still doing their laundry for them, you're doing this parent thing wrong." 

Humph!  I thought. After 21 years of parenting, I suppose I'll never have this mom-thing figured out.


But, as I was tenderly bleaching my son's socks yesterday, it finally came to me. And you know what, my highly respected mom-diva friend, washing my kid's laundry actually makes me an even more better parent-and wife! 


(And by "more-better," I mean, better than "less-gooder.")


Here's why:


Friday, October 25, 2013

Conquering The Dread Gremlins

Oh, they are real, let me tell you!  If I don't hit that pillow dead-dog-tired and I allow myself one iota of contemplative reflection, those little demons rise up from under my bed and plunge their claws of damnation right into my soul.

It happened again last night. I knew better than to read that article before bed! *Face-palm.* The snarly sadistic voices went into a rage, this time lambasting me for throwing my kids into the lions-den of public schoolery only to have them brainwashed by our government into narcissistic, co-dependent little communist trolls. WHAT HAVE I DONE, what am I doing??!!


Then I caught myself. 


Lisa, BE NICE! Stop talking like that. Wait for the morning, it'll be OK. It took about an hour of convincing myself to step away from the ledge before I fell asleep, concluding yet another episode of what I call the "Night Dreads."


You see, during the day, I'm a pretty optimistic and reasonable person. I usually make informed, prayerful decisions concerning my personal life and family. Though I tend to fly by the seat of my pants, I trust my gut, lean towards logic, follow the golden rule and try not to sweat the small stuff. I think I have pretty great coping skills and I'm generally even-tempered. But at night, when the gremlins creep in, I transform into a confused, irrational, self-loathing crybaby.


When I start to hear their sneering accusations, I become instantly rigid. My gut balls up, a slight sweat breaks out and my heart begins to race. My mind starts flashing scenes from everything I'd screwed up in the last 24 hours. In those moments, anything can be challenged-- my beliefs, my convictions, I become utterly hornswoggled that all my major life decisions were wrong-Wrong-WRONG!


The gremlins stand over my bed tormenting me, whispering that all my kids are going to rebel and reject everything we ever taught them. They predict that one day our house will burn down and that I'll probably get murdered in my sleep. I start believing no one will ever buy or sell another house through me, that ship has sailed, sister!  I need to start applying for a REAL job...but nobody's gonna hire me. And by-the-way, my silly dreams and trifle hobbies are pointless, I'm wasting my life. The gremlins remind me how unorganized, inconsistent, uncultured, uneducated, mediocre, not-enough and emotionally incapable I am of sharing my deepest, truest self with anyone, it's no wonder I have no friends. I don't even have my own 401K and Oh my Gawd, I haven't hugged my middle child in over a week! And guess what else, Lisa, YOU forgot to pay the sewer bill and we're probably not going to have running water in the morning. Not to mention, Armageddon is upon us and we are SO. Unprepared.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

"Regret" Is Not A Dirty Word

Word studies. I have been doing a few of  them lately because there is such rampant embracing and regurgitation of  totally ignorant and socially accepted sentiments running a muck in social media. I keep coming across these picture memes and quotables that I imagine were generated by entitled, hormonal, co-dependant teens or college kids who've never encountered a dictionary. What really blows my mind though, is how the social masses lap up these trite little proverbs as "truth."  Seems like everyone is drinking the koolaid so I realize challenging popular word-sentiments could incite an onslaught of hater feedback but this needs to be done, people. Words are powerful and vocabulary sometimes has to be rescued from our abuse and lackadaisical tossing it about. So the first word I'd like to unpack is none other than, REGRET.  


re·gret

  [ri-gret] verb, re·gret·ted, re·gret·ting, noun
verb (used with object)
1.
to feel sorrow or remorse for (an act, fault, disappointment, etc.): He no sooner spoke than he regretted it.
2.
to think of with a sense of loss: to regret one's vanished youth.
noun
3.
a sense of loss, disappointment, dissatisfaction, etc.
4.
  a feeling of sorrow or remorse for a fault, act, loss, disappointment, etc.

Notice, self-hate, self pity, feeling shame, condemnation or a belief I am less-than is not in this definition?!  So, what exactly, is so wrong about feeling sorrow or remorseful for something we've done? Has humanity degenerated so much that it's considered demeaning to feel disappointed in ourselves?  I've heard it said "never regret" because the choices we've made are what "make us into the person we are." Well, aren't sorrow, disappointment, remorse, admitting fault the very convictions that spurn us to do and behave better, to learn and grow from our actions, which in turn "make us who we are"? I thought life lessons were a good thing.




To illustrate my frustration, I've put a few of these picture memes into personal context. (I hope you'll still respect me after I've exposed myself.)

  • I'll never regret throwing that puppy down a flight of stairs, over and over again, because at one time it was exactly what I wanted. What 6yo wouldn't think that was hilarious?
  • I'll never regret that time I stole swimsuits from a department store after drinking that classy Boones Farm Strawberry Hill, getting strip-searched, handcuffed, arrested and fined because at one time it was exactly what I wanted. I did my time in the slammer, why do you think I'm so hard, durr.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Faith and Angst

and why I need my Crutches.


I've spent the last week flopping around in a torrent of emotion. I know, weird, right?  I think my eyes even got watery at one point last Tuesday.  It's really boiled down to a matter of where my heart and my head have been, colliding. Or maybe it is just hormones as usual, but as I slog through some unfamiliar feelings cluttering my judgement, I hold fast to this, Christ is in me. He is the only thing holy about Lisa Frey. The rest of me is a sanctified mess. Sometimes it's like I'm on the edge of  a cliff and the only thing between me and certain free-fall is this chain of commitment to God and Family tethered around my neck. I'm either gonna hang myself with it or it's going to save my life.


Now, I'm all about introspection and self-improvement but I snarked at author, Donald Miller's, challenge to his subscribers the other day to confess their three biggest faults on Facebook. Being the proud person I am, I'm pretty sure my first thought, Hell no!, was audible.  Although, I have noticed some sketchy things materialize in myself lately that, I suppose, have been dormant for years. The challenge gnawed at me. I tossed and turned all night and decided, why not? You want people to know the authentic Lisa, right? Yeah, okay, well here are four...

Like I said, I'm prideful.


I hate being embarrassed.  My fear of it is physically crippling and I will avoid humiliation at all costs, even if that means missing opportunities or feeling regret over never attempting something.  I mean, I can laugh at myself with the rest of you... right? Is it not entertaining enough that I fall down and spill stuff, daily? I know my absence of rhythm and coordination are hilarious. I've even learned to own my pigeon toes. But what I lack in physical grace, I make up for in self dignity. I think I was born with some blue DNA though, because I crave respect more than a desire to be liked and I've developed this all-sufficient attitude that inhibits me from submitting to anyone or thing.  I'm not going  to burden anybody with my complaints or needs. I keep my walls high and expectations of people low to avoid disappointment.  And sometimes, *gasp* I might only do the right thing because I just don't want to have to apologize later.


I want what I want.


And I'm not even talking about material things. Sometimes I feel more obligated to my commitments than a desire to be committed. There are days I get claustrophobic by my own life-choices despite that I have everything a girl could ask for, I still find myself daydreaming  over what I can't have, even envious over those who seem content with much less. Discontentment. Or is it, restlessness?  I've been 29 years old for a decade now, maybe it's the onset of mid-life crisis... I'm seriously considering a career change or taking up some adrenaline infused hobby... Anyway, I've made my bed, but there are nights I just don't wanna lay in it. Yeah, yeah, Somebody call the whaaambulance.




Friday, November 9, 2012

The Dirty Truth About Youth

In March I posted on confessions, and *whew*, did that feel good! So I thought I'd follow it up with a "part II" and put this shallow topic of vanity to bed. In the next few paragraphs I'll come mostly the rest of the way out of my closet (the one I keep all my skeletons in) and throw you a couple more bones I've been keeping to myself.

They say the "secret" to success is not to blab all your secrets but I just celebrated the 10th anniversary of my 29th birthday and honestly, staying 29 forever is a LOT of work! It takes commitment and almost having to be down right OCD about it. So because some of you have asked about my routines, others have been just plain nosy and because I think everyone should be able to stay 29 if they want to, here's my formula:



Saturday, May 5, 2012

Don't Forget To Take Your Happy Pill


I have another confession, while I'm feeling all vulnerable and transparent again...

Some of you might recall my post about Pre-Murder-Syndrome, awhile back?  Well, it was all the rage for about seven minutes.  Anyway, PMS has been a seriously debilitating issue for me these past few years and I wanted to give you a little update on my recovery. 


After trying all sorts of conventional methods to treat  my homicidal condition, I am happy to announce I have finally found a solution that works! Wait for it...


Prozac. 

There. I said it. After much meditation, prayer, exorcisms, exercise, dietetic and homeopathic trials, I have settled on a drug.  Let the shock ruminate a little and continue reading, please. I can justify.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

TMI?

"Integrity" was the topic of discussion at small group last night. Someone asked the question, would our spouse describe our character the same as our church friends? Well that's a toughy, because I wear multiple hats.  So the deeper question I had to ask myself was, am I willing to allow my entire sphere to see what I look like in all those hats? How transparent am I, really?

I figure, this blog is as good a place as any to start letting a few bones out of my closet.  But first, I had to build up some nerve.  So I scanned the internet for gritty, unedited honesty...along the lines of cluttered bedrooms, botox reveals, and dinner disasters. Except, all I found were people pinning ideas on how to be amazing, or facebooking how fabulous their lives are.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Accidental Friends

The unfinished story of Lisa and Christina

At our first practice, I didn't recognize the short little plain-looking girl wearing a Disney T-shirt with her hair all slicked back in a pony tail.  I was told her name was Christina and she'd filled the most recent alto position on our church worship team.  I was brought on the team as her alternate. Then I heard her sing, and I understood why.  There was nothing plain or little about her voice. She was jazz meets gospel, a classic tone and vibrato gelled with contemporary R&B style.  And come Sunday morning, she cleaned up very nice! A pretty blouse replaced her Minnie-mouse tee. Unleashed from its pony tail, was a perfectly manicured, shiny, thick, brunette mane permitted to float around her shoulders framing her adorable, freshly powdered face. She was cute as a button. Then she'd proceed blow the roof off the church building with her ginormous voice.