We all know our babies, we carried them throughout pregnancy and we watch every little movement from the moment they’re born. This situation made me realise this. Here’s Elsie’s story, this was one of the scariest times of my life.
Most babies under 2 get bronch, and can fight it off themselves, but not Elsie, she struggled really bad when she got it at 6weeks old.
When Elsie was around 5 weeks, I knew something wasn’t right. She wasn’t feeding, she was vomitting, inconsolably crying and just wasn’t herself. We took her to the doctors, and was told she had colic. A few days later I noticed fluid coming from her ear, so off we went back to the doctors, we was sent home and told it was viral and would clear on its own. Over the next week we was back and forth from the doctors, walk in centre and A&E. Something just didn’t sit right, my baby wasn’t herself. Finally someone listened to me, because Elsie wasn’t feeding, they kept her on hospital to monitor her. That first night she seemed to go downhill, fast, she was put on oxygen and had a tube fitted so we could tube feed her. The next day a nurse noticed Elsie’s head was bobbing as she was breathing, so they took her blood gases, within about 10 minutes we was whipped around to HDU (High Dependency Unit).
Elsie was ‘working hard’ to breathe and she was in respiratory distress. Her heart rate was high, she was breathing at around 70 breathes per minute and her oxygen levels were dropping, so they put her on a machine called ‘CPAP’.
The CPAP machine gives a high continuous flow of oxygen to keep the airways open. Seeing my tiny baby hooked up to machines, knowing I wasn’t able to hold her, broke my heart. Elsie was put on fluids, she wasn’t able to have milk as it made her breathing worse. After 24hours there was still no improvement. Her heart rate kept going really high and her breathing was no better. We were told what would happen if she didn’t improve, she would have to be ventilated and took to intensive care, I didn’t think it would happen to us though. I thought she would start to improve and we would be back home in a few days. How wrong I was.
I will never forget the night, it was around 11pm, and I just about getting ready to go to bed. (I was given a parent room just around the corner.) The consultant came in, took one look at her and said those dreaded words. “This baby needs ventilating, if she carries on like that her body will give up.”
I was made to go and get a coffee, I wasn’t allowed to be with her while they sedated and intubated her. Aaron was at home with Harriet, so I rang and told him what was happening. He dropped Harriet off to my mum and came straight the hospital. The nurse came and grabbed us when it was all done. Nothing could of ever prepared me, seeing my baby lying there, tubes hanging out her mouth. I took one look at her and cried my eyes out. We was transferred to Nottingham’s Queen Medical Centre’s Children’s Intensive Care Unit.
No parent ever wants to see their child like this. It still makes me cry to this day. Unable to hold her and comfort her, I wanted to just break down, but I knew I had to be strong for her. They kept the ventilator in for around 2 days, when they took it out I was finally allowed to hold her. The first time I’d held my baby in over a week. She was still on oxygen and a feeding tube, but she was awake. Her big eyes looking at me. I’ve never felt so relieved in my life.
We was transferred back to Derby Royal where they weaned her off the oxygen slowly. When she was able to maintain her oxygen levels without help and tolerate feeds we was allowed home. It took me a few days for it to sink in about what had just happened, it all happened so fast.
As well as going through all of that, Elsie has had sepsis at 4 months due to a urine infection, pneumonia at 18months and a numerous amount of chest infections.
I knew something wasn’t right with my baby, but I kept getting told it was viral. Trust your instincts. You know your baby better than anyone else.