-This is a picture of the day we brought our youngest son home from the hospital. My boys are six and eight-years-old now.

I had my scariest moment as a parent last night.

I went into my boy’s room (they prefer to sleep in the same room) just before going to sleep as I usually do to open windows or adjust the fan. In the dark, I looked to where each of them usually are, but couldn’t see them. I gingerly pulled back each duvet cover to discover two empty beds. My heart started pounding.

I hollered over to my husband, “Where are the boys?!” He was behind me in a second: we looked at each other with pure terror in our eyes.

He ran to look in our room when I noticed that their closet door was closed. I tried to open the door but there was something behind the door stopping it from opening. A waft of very hot air came through the small space between the door and the wall.

The panic inside me shot up through my ears as I pushed the door open as hard as I could. I tried to fit my head in to see what was behind the door. As I pushed my body into the door and the small space between it and the wall, I felt a small leg against my foot. My hand frantically scraped the wall for the light-switch. My husband was now behind me, helping me push the door.

When the light went on, I could see my two boys had secretly found their sleeping bags, their pillows, and stuffies, and set up a sleeping fort inside their closet (after we had said, “good night” to them).

They didn’t realize they had enclosed themselves in an airtight space: the sleeping bags blocked any air from coming in. The image of their motionless bodies on the floor is clearly etched in my brain. I couldn’t get in the doorway so I finally pushed so hard, the door banged against the boys. I reached down to pick up my youngest one: he was absolutely drenched in sweat. His pillow was soaked.

I took him out of the closet, moving quickly to the bed. My husband pulled my other son out at the same time. I spoke loudly, hoping to wake them, “Are they okay?” My oldest son woke up, wondering what was happening, so we lulled him back to sleep, incredibly grateful he was fine.

My husband, a doctor, and I sat beside my youngest: “Is he okay? Is he breathing?” We both put on hand on his chest. I asked again, “Is he okay?” We sat there silently, watching our youngest breath, feeling his heart beating in his little chest.

Finally convinced he was all right, we finished our nighttime jobs and crawled into bed. We both stared at the ceiling. I summoned the courage to say the words that were banging in my head: “Would you wake up if you are suffocating?”

My husband quietly shook his head, “No. You wouldn’t.” The seriousness of what just happened settled into my bones. Shaking his head, my husband softly said, “We can’t possibly think of everything.” I had the same thought—it would not have occurred to me to say, “Don’t sleep in the closet: that is dangerous.”

It took a long time to fall asleep last night. Initially stunned and shaking I quietly laid in bed, holding my husband’s hand, until I couldn’t stop a wave of crying from engulfing me.

I have never felt so vulnerable since becoming a parent. I feel like each day I put my heart out there to be worn down, frightened, heartbroken, yet loved so fully. I try not to be a “helicopter parent” and to let my children wander out there into the world to be with their friends or explore, but a part of me breaks each time I do this.

Parents of teenagers, does this feeling ever stop?

I woke up this morning with tears still my eyes and renewed energy to be more patient with my children. I know I can’t stop every single thing from happening, and tragedies certainly do occur. Having experienced two miscarriages and the death of my mother ten years ago, loss is not new to me. I’m taking a deep breath and carrying on, because that’s what we do as parents, don’t we?