A Series of Unexpected Events: And Back We Go!
Written by Lauretta Zurcher
If you have not read the previous parts of Lauretta's story you can find them here...
Bringing home a newborn has anxieties all its own, but bringing home a preemie on an apnea monitor was terrifying. Our little four-pounder was strapped around his chest with a soft band securing the sticky tabs that connected him to an alarm. This monitor would “chime” and blink red lights if the baby forgot to breathe or had a heart rate drop. The alert would send us running to stimulate him (usually by simply tapping on his foot) so that he would start respiring again! Talk about nerve wracking – checking him many, many times to be sure that the machine was attached and working properly became exhausting. But it was so worth it for peace of mind. If the alarm went off (and it DID several times), we could rectify the situation and our little guy was safe.
Because our baby was so premature, it took forever for him to eat. I had pumped breast milk for him, and put it into tiny bottles so that we could keep track of how much he ingested at each feeding. Such little guys find it hard to suck from the nipple, swallow the milk, and breathe all at the same time. WE WERE TOTALLY UNPREPARED for the trials of feeding. Baby needed nourishment every 2+ hours, and it usually took about 45 minutes for him to take in just 1-2 ounces. His monitor would sound out alarms frequently – heart rate drops, stopped breathing! We needed to quit feeding him and get him awake enough to start all over! MAN, it was such a procedure. THANK GOD, FOR A HELPFUL HUSBAND! We were able to share the feeding load, and since I was still recovering, getting as much rest as possible was important.
We had prepared a cute nursery for the new little guy, but because he demanded so much attention, we moved his crib into the living room! Everybody could keep a watchful eye on the baby, and we wanted him to get used to the normal family noises. The UNEXPECTED soon became rather routine: feeding, changing diapers, checking the monitor, feeding again…somehow finding time to sleep (but never soundly!). I can’t even remember how we kept up with the other kids – probably very sporadically. But with God’s grace for each day, life went on. We all pitched in and found a new normal.
Unfortunately, the baby began having more frequent monitor alarms. Feeding became even more exasperating. He seemed lethargic, and my mom sense kicked in. SOMETHING WAS WRONG – MORE WRONG THAN USUAL. One day after a sequence of rapid alarms, I noticed him turning blue! I puffed into him and tried to stimulate him. A quick call to the neonatologist and a summons to bring him in immediately was all I needed to grab a blanket, the monitor, my husband and the car keys.
We “flew” down the highway, praying all the way for the baby and safety on the road. We were ushered into the doctor’s office and received immediate attention. The diagnosis was quick, assertive and unexpected: extreme fluid retention similar to congestive heart failure!!! The model preemie needed to be readmitted to the hospital, but not the NICU. He was dashed into pediatric intensive care where I watched them literally force air into my baby’s lungs! I kind of felt like I needed some myself! We were back for another prolonged hospital stay.
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Posted in: Pregnancy,