When he didn’t start breathing I made a fist and rubbed his chest.
Gasping, he took a deep breath.
‘Thank God,’ I whispered.
If that hadn’t worked, I’d have started CPR.
Shocking as it is, it’s our horrible routine.
Leo was a premmie, so I’d bought a sound and movement monitor to track his breathing at home.
It went off constantly.
‘It might be faulty,’ my husband Jason, 44, said. However, tests showed Leo suffered from a dangerous combination of laryngomalacia stenosis – narrow airways – and sleep apnoea, where he ‘forgot’ to breathe.
Before he was one, he’d had throat surgery and his tonsils and adenoids removed, but it didn’t help.
Now four, a machine monitors his breathing. If he stops, an alarm blares to wake him and me.
The alarm can go off 50 times in one night.
Terrified, I always check on him. For four years, I’ve not had one unbroken night’s sleep.
Leo also has autism and ADHD, made worse by his lack of sleep.
Sometimes he’ll have tantrums in the supermarket or throw things. If I ignore him, shoppers look at me like I’m a bad mum.
Then I heard about Smart Pups, an organisation which trains dogs to support children with special needs. They could train a dog to bark and wake me the second the alarm went off, or nudge Leo awake so he started breathing again.
It could also help keep Leo calm.
‘That would be awesome,’ I said.
We’ve raised $20,000, thanks to generous donors, and can’t wait for our Smart Pup to join us later this year.
We’re still fundraising for medical fees and to cover our pup’s bills when he or she arrives.
Our precious son has cheated death several times a night for four years. Leo is a little lion, and we’re so blessed to have him. ●
To help with ongoing bills, visit au.gofundme.com/smart-pup-for-leo
This occurs when the throat closes in during sleep, blocking off the upper airway.
Breathing stops for between 10 seconds and a minute until the brain sends a wake-up signal.
Treatment includes CPAP nasal masks, mouth guards or surgery to the upper-airway obstruction.