ATLANTA — Jacob deGrom knew something was wrong when he was holding his newborn son and the infant stopped breathing and turned, in deGrom’s words, “dusky.”
Little Jaxon Anthony deGrom was suffering from infant sleep apnea soon after his birth on April 11. For first-time parents Jacob and Stacey deGrom, it was as scary as situation as one could imagine.
Fortunately for the Mets pitcher and his wife, Stacey’s sister, Amanda, is a respiratory therapist. It was Amanda who first noticed the symptoms when she was holding the baby.
“She actually noticed that he was changing a little bit of color,” deGrom said. “She knew what to do. So she woke him up. And then we called the nurses in, and they looked at him. They checked all his vitals, and they were fine. And then later that evening he did it again when I was holding him. That’s when we said, ‘Hey, can you guys watch him for the night?’ I guess he did it twice for them and that’s when they decided to send him up to get monitored.”
According to deGrom, Jaxon was monitored for five days at the Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Florida, before he was cleared to go home with his parents on Monday. Jaxon had an MRI and X-rays and was hooked up to monitors in a neonatal intensive care unit as an anxious family waited.
“You find yourself constantly watching those monitors and hoping they don’t go back down,” deGrom said. “It was definitely scary. But when all the tests came back and nothing was seriously wrong, we were pretty relieved . . . The doctor said they go looking for problems, but you don’t really want to find any. Luckily they didn’t find any, and he’s doing great now.”
DeGrom spoke Saturday after rejoining the Mets at Turner Field before his start against the Braves on Sunday afternoon. DeGrom, who was activated from the emergency family leave list, hasn’t pitched since April 8 because of a strained right lat muscle.
While it was hard to think about pitching as his infant son was treated in the hospital, deGrom used the time to let his injury heal. And working on his craft helped him to relax a little.
“I think it was actually, at times, a little bit to get my mind off of things and get away for a little bit,” deGrom said. “I think that helped me out, because it’s not fun being in the hospital for a week.”
DeGrom said he was able to work on a mechanical flaw during a simulated game and bullpen session at the Mets’ spring training facility in Port St. Lucie, Florida. He thinks the flaw might have contributed to the lat strain that cut short his season debut after six innings.
“For some reason, I was throwing against a stiff front leg vs. last year,” he said. “We looked at the video (from 2015) and I’m really over my front side and the front leg stays bent. In the video of the home opener against Philly, my leg was straight. So I don’t know if that put some extra stress on the lat.”
One thing that deGrom has found that’s tougher than dealing with a lat strain? Changing diapers.
“That, I’m struggling with,” he said with a huge smile.