Breath Holding Spells

Sunday was a scary day for my family. J and I had to take Benjamin to the ER because he passed out. Long story short, he’s fine, but I think he shaved 20+ years off of my life.
Here’s what happened.

We put Ben down for a nap around 11:00. He woke up sometime around 12:00, and J went upstair to get him up and dressed. I’m downstairs in the kitchen helping Henry with his valentines for school, and helping my mom ice a bunch of cupcakes for Henry’s class.

A few minutes later I hear J call for me, and he yells that Ben is doing something weird, so I walk upstairs.

J then proceeds to tell me that while he was getting Ben dressed, he saw that his nose was crusty and had a few boogers in it, and he was trying to get the boogers out. Of course, Ben didn’t like that very much and and started to cry. His cry quickly escalated to the “silent cry.” You know the cry. When your kid is so upset that they’re about to scream, but they’re holding their breath and just ramping up to scream….and you’re just waiting and waiting for them to take a breath to let the scream out….that’s what Ben was doing, except that he never did let the scream out. Instead, his nose and mouth turned blue, his eyes rolled back in his head and he went limp. J (rightfully so) freaked out. Once he told me what happened, I also freaked out.  

Within a few moments, Ben regained consciousness, and although he seemed tired, he was acting normal. He even started nursing, and within 10 minutes was laughing and smiling again.

We quickly made the decision to call the insurance RN to see if this was something to really and truly worry about, as Ben was acting completely normal. After going ’round and ’round with the same questions, the RN told us to pack Ben up and head to the ER. When I heard that my panic set in even more. Tears welled in my eyes, but I quickly quashed those because I had to throw clothes on myself, pack a diaper bag, get Henry situated and then pack up Ben, so I didn’t have time to go into a true panic.

In the ER waiting room. Ben’s already working on taking his bracelet off


We signed in at the ER, and were taken back to a room really quickly. They did an EKG on my little guy. I’ve had several EKGs, and I know that the worse part is pulling the stickies off. But, we had to keep Ben still and calm so they could get a good and even reading of his heart – which is tricky with an almost 8 month old, especially since Ben was trying to pull all the wires off of himself.

Ben having an EKG


After they did the EKG reading in the triage room, they wanted to take us back to a bed in the ER, but all the rooms were full, so we had to be on a gurney in the hallway (a hallways bed is better than no bed).

Not long after getting set up on the gurney with Ben, a Dr. popped by. She told us that this was probably nothing, but to be sure, they wanted to do a chest X-Ray, and then another EKG – she didn’t like the reading they got the first time.  

So, a few minutes later a woman from radiology came by, and Ben and I walked with her to take the X-Ray. They put Ben in a contraption that held his chest the way they wanted, and put a lead vest over me, and I had to hold his arms above his head while they took the pictures. Ben hated it, and screamed with tears rolling down his cheeks. Thankfully it was done quickly, and I had him in my arms again in a few minutes.

This isn’t Ben, but he was put into something exactly like this


After the X-Ray we were waiting again, and a little while later a nurse came by to do another EKG. My heart sank when they told us they wanted to do another one. I was so worried they wanted to repeat it because they saw something strange on it…I was once again panicking as they put all the sticky pads all over Ben again, and hooked him up with all the wires. Despite my fear J and I had to try to keep him calm, while semi-restraining him so he wouldn’t pull at all the cords. 

Second EKG


After that was done, we were just waiting again. J and I were trying to distract Ben and keep him calm and happy, which is difficult to do when you only have about 2 toys with you, and he’s no longer interested in either. And, it’s even harder to do when your mind is freaking out and going 100 mph with worry.  

A little while later, the doctor came by to tell us that everything looked fine, and we were going to be discharged. Huge sigh of relief from us! Chest X-Ray was normal, and EKG was normal. 

 The Doctor went on the explain that she thinks Ben has Breath Holding Spells (BHS). Basically when Ben gets upset, angry, etc., he will involuntarily hold his breath until he passes out. This is super scary for the parents (I can attest to that), but passing out restarts his breathing, and causes everything to go back to normal.  

The good news is that this is something that he will outgrow. The bad news is that we can expect more of these episodes from time to time…

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2 thoughts on “Breath Holding Spells

  1. So glad it was not serious! We have had a few scary trips to A&E I can empathise! Hope you went home and had a strong cup of tea!

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