Even writing the title makes me breath hard and get tearful. I think sometimes I have some sort of PTSD. I know I say that jokingly sometimes but I am really not joking. The other day we were at Target and they had ambulances and fire trucks the kids could walk through and I couldn't even go to the ambulance because I started having flashbacks and I was shaky. I mean that can't be normal right?
Natalie was born on Thursday. We came home from the hospital on Saturday. That next Thursday she seemed sick. She would cough and I thought newborns didn't cough. Friday night I called the nurse on call and she said that it sounded like she was okay but to watch her. I took her to the ER on Saturday and they said that she was fine. I felt like I was imagining it but she had this horrible cough and she had slowed down her eating. I took her into her Ped office on Monday morning. Her oxygen level was in the 70's and they told me that they were admitting her to the hospital. She tested positive for RSV. They did a breathing treatment and put her on oxygen. She started to turn pink right away and I honestly didn't realize how blue she looked. I had a breakdown in the office crying. I guess in hindsight I was still recovering and my emotions were all over the place.
I called my mom to come and get Gabrielle and my husband to come with me to the hospital. They admitted her. We live in a small town and the town over has the hospital. It has always seemed like a good hospital but it's still small. Natalie was put on the general floor where I guess they have a couple of rooms reserved for babies or children. This was Monday and she got worse as the week went on. The doctors kept telling me that she would get worse before she got better. She constantly had to have her nose and mouth suctioned. The worst part is that they had to use the wall machine and it was always trouble trying to get someone to come and do it. She slowed down nursing and made me feel horrible because I couldn't get her to eat. You have to remember that I had just given birth the week before. We hadn't even got into our breastfeeding groove yet so I didn't know what was normal. I thought 5 minutes was great but the nurse would push for me to bottle feed her. I started pumping because she wasn't eating enough and I had to do something.
By Thursday, it was horrible. Neither of us were getting any sleep. She was coughing all the time. She couldn't breath. She wouldn't eat. Twice that day she stopped breathing. The first time I was holding her in the bed and she started to turn blue and stopped breathing. I shook her a little and then what seemed like a lifetime, she took a breath. The second time happened that afternoon. I was sitting in the chair holding her and she turned blue again and stopped breathing. I panicked. My mom grabbed her and turned her over and kind of shook her. The nurse took her and then she started breathing again. I guess these were apnea episodes. For me, they were the scariest thing I have ever seen.
So the hospital decides that she needs a IV. I can't really figure out why she didn't have one prior to this. At the time I didn't think about it but who has ever gone into the hospital without an IV?? But she hadn't been eating and it was so hard for them to get an IV in her. They tried her head....her arms....her legs....her thighs....She had over 30 pokes. The worst part of that is that she barely cried. She just sat there. I had to leave. I will always be thankful for my mom being there and dealing with that part when I physically and emotionally couldn't do it anymore. They couldn't get an IV. Three different people tried including the nurse, a nurse from the NICU and someone else that brought an ultrasound machine.
The doctor said that he really hated to move her to another hospital just for an IV and just to push her to eat any way possible. They ended up giving her a feeding tube but the nurse hadn't really done it on a newborn before and her stomach was extended and it had to be redone a couple of times. However, because of the apnea episodes they decided to move her to NICU. In our hospital this is an isolette on the delivery floor. I know they weren't thrilled about moving a baby with RSV to the delivery floor. The nurse up there seemed awesome and knew what she was doing. Brandon and I were put in a private room that was kind of like a hotel room. We could be there and sleep and Natalie was just down the hall.
When she was moved to the NICU, I just felt relief. For a week, I had been the one completely responsible for her. I was the one that monitored her and checked constantly to make sure she was breathing. Now she was being watched. She was on machines and we had a nurse just for us. I thought I would finally be able to sleep and know that she would be okay if I closed my eyes.
That night around 6:30 p.m. my brother and sister in law came to see us. We decided to go get something to eat. It was the first time I left for more than a couple of minutes. We came back and Brandon went to sit with Natalie while I took a shower and took a breather. The nurse called the room and asked me to come. I went in not really thinking anything. She said that she was calling the doctor. It was showing that she was taking in too much O2. The doctor came and was looking at x-rays. This was about 10:00 p.m. or so. He came in the room and told us that her condition had worsened and she needed to be flown out. Brandon and I were both crying. I just kept telling them I was sorry. I guess I was aplogizing for crying which seems odd to me now. He wanted to fly her to Denver. I asked him if she could go to Albuquerque instead. We used to live there and we had family there plus it was closer for everyone. It was decided she would go to Albuquerque. The hospital made arrangments for her to be flown out.
It took almost two hours for the plane to get there. During this time I called my mom and my sister in law. I also called Brandon's parents to let them know. My mom and sister in law came to the hospital and it was a waiting game. They worked on her and worked on her. They had to intubate her and that took quite awhile. I guess at one point Natalie had someone taken the tube out of her throat so they had to do it again. The flight crew got there but it was still hours before we could leave because she was so unstable.
The flight nurse told me that she was critical but that it was more important to fly her to Albuquerque then to stay. So off we went. Only one parent could go so I went with her and Brandon went home to try to get a couple hours of sleep and then make the 4 hour drive to Albuquerque. I stuffed some clothes my sister in law had brought me in a bag.
It was so cold outside. They wheeled her out to the ambulance and it took about 20 minutes to get to the airport. It was a little plane. They loaded her on and I was sitting in the back. I kept watching the O2 monitor praying that the number would stay stable. I asked the flight crew if she was going to make it. He told me that he didn't know and that she was a very sick baby. I just kept imagining that my baby was going to die on the plane. We were going to be in the air and my baby was going to die.
At that point I felt like I hadn't slept in days. I drifted off. I woke up as we were descending into Albuquerque. It was an hour flight. I honestly am glad that I fell asleep since I was so obsessed with that monitor. There was an ambulance waiting for us at the airport and off to the hospital we went.
What happened next was one of the worst things. I have never felt so alone in my life. I get out of the ambulance and walk around to the back to wait for them to bring Natalie out. Except they don't. I see them inside moving around. Finally they open the doors and she is laying on the board in just a diaper. The paramedics are all around her and one is over her pumping oxygen. It was kind of like a dream...or a movie. They rush her in the hospital. Originally, she was just supposed to go up to the Ped ICU but now they were moving her to a trauma room. They were running, people were shouting. There were doctors and nurses everywhere. I just stood outside the room and watched 20 people working on my baby. She was just lying there....she was just a baby and she looked lifeless. I didn't know what was happening. I didn't know what to do. I called my mom. At this point it's like 4:30 a.m. I was sobbing and told my mom I think Natalie was dying and I couldn't do this alone.
After awhile, someone came over and told me I could come in. It was surreal standing next to her while they discussed what they were going to do. Her tube had come out again and they were thinking about intubating her AGAIN. She finally was stable enough to go to the Ped ICU. We spent the next week at the hospital. Everyone that came in the room had to put on masks and gowns. She was hooked up to so many monitors it was hard to even hold her.
I was still there alone. That morning I got a call from Brandon's uncle letting me know he was there in the waiting room if I needed him. His sister had called me early that morning too before we flew out since she lived there. My parents and Brandon were still on their way. My other brother was also coming to see Natalie because he hadn't met her yet and I think it was worried that she wouldn't make it. Well we kind of all were....It was amazing to have so many people that cared and helped us out. Don't even forget my brother and sister in law that kept my other two girls while we were out of town.
She slowly started improving. We moved to the regular Ped floor after 4 days and she just kept getting better and better. She was sent home on oxygen and that was scary for us but it was only for a couple of weeks. It took weeks for us to all completely recover. I feel like I never really got the chance to recover from my C section. When Natalie was out of the woods, I started to feel human again. I remember looking in the mirror and thinking how old and tired I looked. I have never felt that way in my life. I never thought I could go through something like that. I have never prayed so hard in my life. I still have problems sleeping but it gets better. Natalie still has some breathing issues but mostly coughing and asthma type things.
I thank God for my girls everyday and I thank God for letting Natalie stay here with me.