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The Joy of Parenting #1: When they stop breathing

This photo shows basically the same sort of setup we have now for the baby. Oh she just love love loves it. (insert sarcasm here)

There is nothing in the world worse than watching your child struggle to breathe.

The baby came down with a (so I thought) mild tummy bug over the weekend. We all did. Just a little nausea and some runny stool.

Then my older daughter got a slight cold and I kept her home Tuesday...but she was fine Wednesday, which was the day the baby started showing signs of the cold.

By 3 a.m. this morning (mind you Day 3 of No Sleep Whatsoever following Week Two of Frequently Interrupted, Poor Quality Sleep) the baby was seeming more than a little congested, had developed a fever, and seemed a little short of breath now and again.

By 7:45 I was getting really concerned and called the doctor's office, "Hi my baby is pretty sick, she's struggling to breathe, sort of like stridor, but very wheezy and more intense."

The receptionist said, "The doctor can see you at 10:50."

I thought, hmm maybe I am overreacting. I guess they don't think it is a big deal. And, she is acting fairly normal, sick and cranky, but fairly normal. We put her in the shower.

By 8:45 I was getting panicky. She was getting listless and stuggling worse to breathe.

By 9 she had crawled in my lap and laid down and sort of passed out. I know from falling asleep normally in my lap and this, which was not normal. This was "little body had to collapse and put every bit of effort into trying to draw in a breath."

I wacthed her for a bit, and it didn't get worse, but the rattling, wheezing and struggling to breathe seemed pretty bad to me.

I debated calling my neighborhood medical team, or 911 for an ambulance, but in the end decided it would be fastest to load her in the car and race to the doctor myself.

My heart has never beat so hard in my life. I drove 60 miles an hour to the doctor. Honking my horn and yelling MOVE to all cars. I kept checking back on her and her chest was still moving, but very struggle-y, and she wasn't moving.

I walked in with a listless, unresponsive baby.

As calmly as possible I said to the receptionist, "My baby is listless, unresponsive and struggling to breathe and I need a doctor now."

She said, "Do you have an appointment?"

I said, "Yes but later and she is having trouble breathing NOW. I need a doctor now, please, okay?"

She says, "Well sign in and leave your insurance card and I'll get her chart..."

And I said, panic edging out deadly calm, "Do you not get it??? The baby is barely breathing. I need a doctor NOW."

She says, "What's your last name?"

And I said, deadly calm voice edging out panic, "MAJOR MALPRACTICE LAWSUIT IF YOU DON'T GET A DOCTOR NOW NOW NOW!"

Oh NOW she gets it.

Now I am ushered into the emergency room.

Now a nurse and doctor come flying in.

Now they strap oxygen on my baby and start doing things to her.

Good grief.

Two breathing treatments later, her O2 was still way low.

Then my doctor gets there and we try some more.

They start sucking blood, cath her for a urine check and start saying scary things like, "No response in right lung, ketones and blood in urine, high protein, call the hospital..."

She is "revived" and acting more like an alive baby after treatment 2. More like herself. By treatment three she is fighting me. That was a relief, much more so than any aggravation. O2 still not up to bottom of normal level.

We are ushered to the hospital.

They run more tests, restrain her and X-ray her, ask if she is eating...tell us they will tell us this afternoon what is wrong with her.

Then our specialist is there and they are saying things like asthma and pneumonia and RSV and bacterial infection spread and decreased kidney function and other scary things.

Then my doctor is there teaching me how to ventilate the dealie wop (no idea what it is called) and how to string the tubing from the other thingie and how to do the puff thing and giving me a drug schedule and I am wishing I had something to write it all down on.

Then they send us home, until we all know more.

At home, for some reason, we feel more calm, more in control. We talk to friends in the know, read the instructions for the inhaler, run google searches n the Internet for asthma flare and bronchitis, and sucessfully give our first inahler treatment using the aeromask to our vehemently protesting baby.

Friends in the know remind us she is a baby. Her lungs just might not be their strongest yet, but there might not be a long-term implication here.

This morning I had a major huge cloud of anxiety hovering around me because she is so tiny and the human body suddenly seemed so fragile, and if I ever lose her I will never ever be able to move again.

My mind knows it IS NOT that dire. This is not the case. We are fine.

But you tell that to my heart.

It's not pneumonia, it's probably bronchitis, doubtfully RSV. We still don't know what's wrong with her kidneys-bladder. We'll still do the breathing treatment b/c no matter what is wrong, she is still struggling.

But what a day...what a roller coaster.

By Julie Pippert
Artful Media Group
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© 2006. All images and text exclusive property of Julie Pippert. Not to be used or reproduced.


Anonymous said…
wow as a mother that must have been hard, I am proud of you even though I don't know you and I pray you and your baby are ok..

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