Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Littlest (week seven)

Sunday 22 June (Written from hospital)


O my tiny darling, this has not been a good week for you. (And I'll have to come back to your sixth week, if indeed I ever remember it. Worry and stress and lack of sleep seem to have wiped a lot of things from my memory.)

As I type now we're in the hospital. I am sitting up in bed and you are sleeping wheezily on my chest, the gastro-nasal tube still in your nose - although you no longer need to use it, and the oxygen tubes finally taken from your nose. There's still a probe bandaged to your foot, attached to a machine that monitors your air saturation and heart rate. Every so often the machine attached to the probe starts beeping and flashing red, but now the beeping is being put down to you kicking and confusing the machine. This was not always the case.

We have been in the hospital since Thursday - three nights - and you are final becoming more like your own curious, inquisitive, happy self.

On Monday you had a cough, a bit of a sniffle and were unsettled in the evening.

On Tuesday your cough was worse and you were breathing a little fast. Your Daddy and I didn't really sleep Tuesday night as you didn't want to lie down and your breathing was so laboured. One or the other of us, and often both, sat up with you all of the night, holding you and listening to your exhales and inhales, your coughing and spluttering and checking the rate of your breathing and listening to your chest.

On Wednesday your breathing was worse - your Daddy stayed home from the hospital - which considering he only took a day and a half off for your birth shows how worried he was.

I was petrified about whooping cough as there was a case at your brother's school last week. Your Daddy thought bronchiolitis. I took you to the doctor and while in the waiting room I nearly got up and took you straight to emergency, your breathing seemed so unsteady, your colour so sallow. I should have. The doctor said you seemed to have a cold or flu and to keep up the fluids. He gave us saline drops.

I never had a winter baby in Victoria before. Your brother and sister were both tropical babies. The colds and flus of winter look so different in a newborn and I was unsure how to interpret them.

Watching you breathe terrified me, but maybe it was normal for a small baby with a cold?

I went home feeling foolish - your colour was bad, but so was your brother's and sister's. They've been coughing and either flushed or pale for weeks.

Thursday morning, after another sleepless night taking turns to hold you, after doing the school-run listening to one ragged breath after another, constantly getting the kids to check on you as we drove,  I took you to the maternal health and childcare nurse, and asked if I should take you to the hospital. I'd been reluctant  because of the long wait in the Emergency Ward. After the longest drive of my life, the fifteen minutes home to change you, (you'd just thrown up all over your clothes and most of mine) and then the drive to the hospital, just listening for each unsteady breath, I discovered there are worse things than waiting in ED.

There is going to the triage nurse and being led straight out the back. First into a little room where you were checked, and then into a room behind where you were put on oxygen. I phoned your Daddy and he arrived so fast I was afraid he must have sped the hour long trip. Luckily, the broken down car for once did not break down. As soon as a bed was free we were taken onto the paediatrics ward.

The nights and days blur together. Beeping machines and doctors and nurses and your little heaving chest and bobbing head and wheezing, expressing milk, and all the milk coming up again. Your brother and sister coming in for brief, manic visits, hyped on treats and running rings around your shattered Daddy and causing mayhem.

Looking out the window, it is the same view we had when you were born, only from a different angle. Beyond the little peace garden directly out the window (cala lilies and coastal rosemary, and one little unflowering rose) is the same row of eucalypts, the staff car-park. You lie in the same type of clear plastic bassinet. And you looked so very, very different.

You're getting better now. I think we'll be able to come home soon. You're smiling again, your big, joyous grin. You're talking (you have the sweetest voice in all the world), and waving your hands and feet like a very enthusiastic conductor. These last few days you've just been lying still, apart from your head bobbing with your breathing, and your tiny chest labouring.

Little one, we were so very scared. We are so very grateful to all the lovely staff who looked after you so well. We are so grateful for modern medicine - for air. I don't know what would have happened if we did not have the technology to give you oxygen. My mind shies from it. But I am suddenly thinking of all the children in developing countries who do not have access to the oxygen that kept you going.

Littlest, you are on the mend now. It seems there is a very clear course to bronchiolitis - progressively worse for 3-5 days and then better. You are past the worse and soon we will be home.

O Littlest, it is so very, very good to see you smiling again and studying the ceiling with awed wonder.

(About to come home, Monday)


  1. Oh so glad to hear she is better and you will be going home. So terrifying to see your baby so Ill. Take care. Best wishes. Jean

    1. I posted this a few days after we got home - I was a little distracted at the time! Lily's so much better now - it's amazing how rapidly little ones get seriously sick, and then how quickly they recover (thank goodness!) Thank you for your thoughts.

  2. Oh Kirsty I almost cried reading this, so very stressful. I'm glad your little one is on the mend and breathing so much easier now. She is beautiful. I'm sending health, restful sleep and recovery vibes your family's way x

    1. Thank you - she is so much better now, you would never guess she had been so sick. It is truly amazing how quickly babies recover, but it was so hard to see her in so much distress.