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That Time I Was So Sleep-Deprived I Thought I Altered My Newborn’s Heartbeat

flickr / amanda tipton

The following was syndicated from Quora for The Fatherly Forum, a community of parents and influencers with insights about work, family, and life. If you’d like to join the Forum, drop us a line at

What were the biggest mistakes you made as a parent to an infant or toddler?

I actually thought I had permanently changed my son’s heartbeat.

It was the middle of the night, somewhere between the hours of a total insomniac and the waking dead, and I was doing my fatherly duty of burping our first born.

As any parent can tell you, the rhythmic pattern, the bouncing, and the lack of sleep create a cocktail of activity that can, for all intents and purposes, make you fall asleep standing up.

Then I noticed something … or at least I thought I did.

I was as sure as a sleep deprived zombie stand sleeping parent could be: His heartbeat changed.

Adrenaline kicks in, and when it’s your first born your body kicks into “defending your family against invading ninjas while wrestling mountain lions” mode adrenaline.

Second kid? Not so much.

So I call the 24-hour emergency nurse hotline through our medical plan.

My wife wakes up just in time to hear the nurse explain how burping a baby won’t impact a heartbeat.

As soon as I get off the phone, with zero pats on the back, he burps.

And, ironically, I couldn’t sleep.

Chris Lynam is a father of 3, and the creator of #DADventure. He writes about parenting, relationships, and fitness. You can read more from Quora here: