As Jaxson approached his first birthday we noticed a change in his behaviour. From around 11 months he became very confident walking around (holding someone’s hand). This was his new favourite (after Mickey Mouse of course). 4 months on and he’s even more confident and LOVES the outdoors. The only problem is, he still doesn’t walk on his own. We have to hold his hand everywhere he goes, for hours, and hours, and hours. Our small house prevents him from practicing on his own, because there’s not really anywhere for him to go! As you can imagine, this has taken its toll on our lower backs! It’s very hard work, especially if it’s just one of us looking after him.
The older Jaxson gets, the more demanding he has become. It seems he has hit the ‘terrible twos’ a tad early. (Everyday I tell myself, the earlier it begins, the earlier it ends – keep hoping Alex!) He’s only really like it for Joe and I. He’s much better behaved for everyone else! Surprise, surprise. He hates sitting on his play mat with toys. If I try to sit him down so I can make lunch, or go to the toilet (yes, us mums need to do that other than at nap times), he’s screams, and screams, and screams. Delightful.
The screaming and crying is a regular thing now. Sometimes I think he’s just crying for the sake of it. But most of the time I know it’s out of frustration. Frustration over having no independence from us. He’s never crawled, and now really wants to walk, but relies on us to help him. Poor little lamb.
So with all that in mind, I’m going to tell you about our first BREATH HOLDING ATTACK. (Yes, it’s as scary as it sounds.)
It was Tuesday evening (luckily both Joe and I were at home) and Jaxson had been grizzly all day. Tantrum after tantrum. We had attempted to give him dinner (unsuccessfully as usual) which had upset him even more. So Joe decided to bath him early. We can always rely on a bath to calm him down and cheer him up. Off Joe went with our crying baby.
A few minutes later Joe came downstairs shouting ‘there’s something wrong with him!’. Normally I think nothing of it, we often say ‘there must be something wrong with him’ (because of all the crying etc). Not this time. This time Joe was being serious.
As Joe entered the room I briefly looked up at Jaxson. It took me a second to register he wasn’t breathing. His eyes were open, but looking at nothing. His body was limp and very still. All at once (in the space of 2 seconds) a million things went through my head. My baby isn’t breathing, my baby is ill, my baby needs help, my baby, my baby, my baby. This has to be the most terrifying moment of my life.
After the longest 2 seconds of my life I said ‘how long has he been like that’? As Joe began telling me he had been holding his breath, Jaxson ‘woke up’. I wonder if it was the sound of my voice that triggered him to breathe again? His breath holding attack started in the bathroom, so when he woke up and realised he was in the living room, it was a massive shock. He was terrified.
Straight away Joe was on his phone googling. But we all know what happens when you google symptoms, you always end up reading something horrific and think the worst. Luckily Joe’s mum bought us a baby health book when Jaxson was born (I can always rely on her to think of things like that!) I looked up ‘breath holding’ and found a paragraph describing ‘Breath Holding Attacks’. It was actually a fairly small paragraph, describing how a baby holds their breath during a tantrum, or after an accident and their body shuts down (faints) to get them breathing again. Obviously to us, it was very serious, but the book didn’t agree! The title of the page was ‘Bad Habits’, so maybe it wasn’t that serious?
The next morning we took Jaxson to see our Doctor. Everything was explained to her, we added a few things that may have cause him to faint, other than his tantrums. For example, him not eating very much (this could cause anemia), but the Doctor was sure it was a Breath Holding Attack. She examined him to be sure, but told us he’s perfectly healthy. When we asked why his behavior is so bad (I’m only referring to tantrums, other than that he’s an angel ;)) she said, just from seeing him in this appointment, she could tell he is a very independent little boy. He knows what he wants and gets frustrated if he is told no. This is what is causing the tantrums, which then led to the Breath Holding Attack.
I have to admit, I do feel a lot better after seeing the Doctor. I obviously never want it to happen again, but the chances are it probably will. Now we know what it is, we can try and prevent it by distracting him and making him laugh, or even blowing on his face. By the sounds of it, we have a ‘terrible tot’ on our hands!
I had never heard of these attacks, until we experienced one. Which is exactly why I am writing this post. I want to warn other new mums what a Breath Holding Attack is and how to know when your child is suffering from one. It is impossible to learn everything prior to becoming a parent, but hopefully the more of us that blog about our experiences the more mums-to-be or new parents will learn.
I am very grateful to Joe’s mum for buying us our baby health book. It’s so useful to be able to look something up before rushing to see a doctor. Babies are complicated little things, but also very tuned in to their own bodies. The fact that his body shut down, because he was holding his breath too long, to make him to breathe again, is extremely impressive. You just don’t realise how much these tiny little people can do.
Please make sure you have a book like this at home. You never know when you might need a little advice.
I hope you have found this post useful, and have learned a little something about Breath Holding Attacks (also know as Breath Holding Spells.)