Safe Sleeping Advice from an EMT, Foster Parent

My name is Melanie Paolo. I have been a foster parent for three years, have adopted three beautiful children and am working on adopting our fourth. Being a foster/adoptive parent has given me a whole different appreciation for being a mom. I’ve felt pain I’ve never felt before. I’ve had many sleepless nights full of fear and uncertainty. I have an appreciation and respect for agencies, groups and people I never knew existed. I’ve also seen the love, generosity and humanity complete strangers pour out to you when a little life is trusted in your hands, be it through donations of clothing, toys, or friendship and support. There is also my favorite, the happiness I feel when I see my children smile, or hear their tiny giggle.

I’ve been married for five years to my husband, Vincenzo. Neither of us expected to take this wild journey together, but we did, and we couldn’t be happier. I’ve been an EMT for 13 years. All 13 years I have been affiliated with one of the local private ambulance companies in Milwaukee, running 911 and private calls. I’ve worked in two of our city’s emergency rooms, I’ve worked in the stress lab for Aurora Health Care, and I hold a number of certifications that have allowed me to teach. Right now, I have the toughest job I’ve ever held, MOM to four kids ranging from 6 years old to four months.

My career has allowed me the opportunity to see how different cultures live different lives because of their beliefs. You never know what is going to be behind the next door on your call. You never know someone’s beliefs in medicine until you are their care giver and they are in an emergency situation. I’ve gotten the chance to learn a lot about different people. I’ve gone on calls that 10 years later I can close my eyes and recall the smells around me, names, voices or conversations. Everyone asks me what is the grossest thing I’ve seen, or what is one thing about any of my jobs I won’t forget. I have a lot of stories, so many I could write a book.

One thing that I’ve become extremely passionate about is spreading the message of safe sleeping. So far in Milwaukee, 13 babies have died due to unsafe sleeping environments. One is too many; 13 is ridiculous. If I can share a message, or teach two people that the safest place for a baby to sleep is in a crib, Pack n Play, or bassinet, then hopefully those are two babies I gave a chance for life. Please, please, please create a safe environment for your baby to sleep in. Nobody should experience the loss of their child, especially because of a careless choice, with an easy solution. Keep your babies safe!!

Watch for upcoming trainings by Melanie after the first of the year.

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