Tuesday, March 20, 2012

bronchiolitis and Valentine's Day

On Tuesday, February 7th, when my husband and I were in bed, we heard our baby girl cough. The 2-and-a-half-year-old had been sick already, starting with a fever and lack of appetite the Friday before. Both she and the 5-year-old got a cough and runny nose, so we had been trying to keep them out of the room where the baby was. We were sad when we heard her start to cough. 

The next morning I called our pediatrician and got an appointment that day. I remembered that our first baby had been pretty congested and that the nurse had put a long tube in the baby's nostrils to clear out the deep snot. She did need to do that with C. There is a photo of it below, but it doesn't show the machine with the suction power. The doctor gave me papers including a prescription and the diagnosis: bronchiolitis. This means that breathing was a struggle because of infected bronchioles -- the small tubes in the lungs. The prescription was for 7 days of suctioning at a respiratory outpatient clinic -- ROC --as often as she needed it, and albuterol (through a mask over her mouth) if necessary.

We didn't have C suctioned on Thursday, and we did not realize how serious this could get. Our first time at the respiratory outpatient clinic was Friday, February 10th around 12:30 p.m. (I think she had some albuterol at that time, too):

That respiratory therapist (RT -- I don't remember her name because I ended up seeing a lot of them) was such a nice lady. Also, she said "when you come back in a few hours . . ." so I guess she could tell our baby would need it. I brought her in at 5 or 6 p.m. Then my husband and I wanted to see if she would be okay until the morning, but after I nursed her around 10:30 p.m. she vomited a large amount. We started to clean it up, and she vomited a second time. I immediately went back to the clinic. She had never vomited before, and in her seven weeks of life she had spit up probably less than four times, just a teeny bit.

In the ROC the RT saw the muscles between our baby's ribs retracting as she breathed. {This was unrelated to the retracting she did right after she was born, and she doesn't have asthma or anything.} We had to go over to the emergency room (the ROC is in the hospital as well). I don't remember everything, but I know we waited as we watched the monitors that showed us her heart rate, oxygen saturation and respiratory rate. They had to listen to her lungs, too. In the emergency room I called my husband to tell him I wouldn't be home for a while. After 1:00 in the morning a doctor told me that C needed to be hospitalized to help her breathe, and that the virus that caused her bronchiolitis was RSV. There was mucus in her lungs. I didn't fully understand, but I stayed calm. I sent my husband a text message with this photo.

A nurse called my mother-in-law, who was working her night shift in the same hospital. My mother-in-law hurried down to the ER and helped get C in the car seat. 

C needed to go to the children's hospital by ambulance so she could continue to have the oxygen and be monitored. I chose to ride in the ambulance because I wanted to stay close to my little baby, and because I had never been in an ambulance before.

They had a room for us, but the EMTs were a little annoyed that when we got there the nurse's assistant hadn't already brought a crib in. I went to sleep at about 3 a.m. Needless to say, it wasn't very good sleep.

Later Saturday morning, when my mother-in-law got off work, she went to our place to be with our other kids so my husband could come up to the hospital for a little bit. A doctor said that C wouldn't be going home that day, and she might need another week in the hospital. There was no way to predict exactly how many days it would be.  

During the rest of the hospital stay my mom and mother-in-law took turns caring for the big girls while their daddy was at school. I stayed at the hospital. After his school day he came to see me and the baby before going back to be Mr. Mom all day. He grew closer to our older daughters because of it. He also found that being a single parent was tiring. He can cook well, but one of the days his facebook status was, "Frozen pizza. For those times that hamburger helper is just too much effort." I liked being able to eat in the cafeteria, and I played the grand piano once a day. I had brought the book Emma with me when I went to the ROC Friday night, so I read from that, and my husband brought my scriptures. For the first couple of days I didn't use a computer at all.

Albuterol. I think this was just the second and also the last time that she had it, although it seemed to me that it helped her.
In the morning on Sunday, February 12th, I agreed to have our baby move to the ICU, which is where they start high-flow oxygen. One doctor compared her mucusy lungs to a balloon: when it's new the balloon sticks together, and when you blow forcefully into it, it separates and expands. They did an x-ray on her, and then we went right into the ICU and stayed there until Monday afternoon. 

The doctor showed me the x-ray and, thankfully, there was nothing wrong with her lungs besides the virus (I think he used the word "fluffy" to describe that). While in the ICU she couldn't breastfeed because we didn't want her to aspirate. She had vomited after the late-Saturday-night feeding; that time I didn't ask the staff to suction her right before. They started her on IV fluids, and they had a really great breast pump kit and pump room for me to use. Her respiratory rate needed to be lower in order for me to nurse her. (Near the end of the ICU time someone did successfully feed her a bottle of my milk. Also, it was nice to be able to bring home frozen milk in case we need it.) The high-flow oxygen began at 6 liters per minute and they gradually turned it down until it was at 3 when we moved to a room out of the ICU.

This was her first experience with any type of pacifier, and she wasn't crazy about it.

On Sunday afternoon my sweet mom and sister came over. My mom had my sister take a picture. I don't know why I didn't really like that idea (maybe can you tell by the way my expression was). But it ended up being the only picture of my face taken during the four and a half days.

She was happy to have me feed her again, and I snacked on celery.

Tuesday, February 14 was our 4th day in the hospital.

Separately, both of our moms helped the girls make darling valentines for us. My mom wrote the words on the ones shown below, and Shboogoo colored them. I like how she made the baby's a different color. The girls didn't even know that we were lame and didn't give anything to them (of course, we did have a good excuse).

After my husband's classes he came and saw C, and I rode home with him. I enjoyed being outside in the sunshine and spending some time at home; I hadn't been there since Friday. I grabbed some clothes and other things and drove our car back to the hospital. My little Valentine had a bath, and we stared at each other for a long time. I'd been looking forward to having her wear the red bodysuit that a nurse had given to her when she was a day old. It felt good to walk/run on the stairs and down the hallways of the hospital, take a shower, and eat dinner in our room while watching TV (except there was a show about an engaged couple and I was away from my husband on Valentine's Day). In the evening C's high-flow oxygen was turned down to 2, and at some point she only needed regular oxygen.

We had Sarah for two day shifts in a row. She found the adorable red flower headband (in the container of headbands they give away to patients).

Wednesday, February 15th two doctors asked me, "Would you be comfortable with going home on oxygen today?" I wasn't expecting it to be that soon, but her lungs and congestion and cough sounded a lot better, so I thought going home sounded like a good idea. Daddy came by noon and we left as soon as we were able to. They gave us a small oxygen tank turned to .25 liters of oxygen. Later a home care employee delivered a bigger tank so the smaller one would be only for when C had to go somewhere. We couldn't take her anywhere but the doctor's office and the respiratory clinic. They also told us to have her deep suctioned at the ROC twice a day if she seemed to need it. They said she would still have a stuffy nose and cough for up to two weeks. Poor girl. These are the photos we took that day. 

We turned our half-bath into a bedroom for her so she could be more isolated.

I had to take her to the doctor every two or three days to check on everything, including her oxygen saturation level (we saw how well she could breathe without oxygen therapy). It was fun to see that she was gaining about an ounce a day. On February 18th the doctor said we could turn her oxygen down to 1/32 liter (the lowest setting) when awake and 1/16 when asleep.

Our older girls did a lot of pretending that they had a sick baby or they were doctors talking to parents of sick babies. It was pretty amusing to us. Shboogoo dictated this to me:

On February 24th C was all done with the oxygen tanks, but we needed to keep her home (or at least away from other children and any sick people) for another month. It was inconvenient for us, but it was okay. We're glad the RSV wasn't as bad for her as it is for some children. One of the worst parts of her entire experience was when I removed the stickers that had held the nasal cannula in place. Her scream-cry was the saddest thing ever!


We did some belated Valentine's Day stuff. On the 17th Shboogoo's preschool group had a party. I made oatmeal chocolate chip Craisin cookies. Because of the baby I didn't stay at the party, but everyone had fun playing together.

I finished making this wreath a few days before February ended. :o) I really like my creation. I used an old light pink cotton shirt to cover a cheap craft store wreath, and glued on the hearts that I had cut out of felt.

We finally went on our traditional Valentine's Day date at the beginning of March. I love my man.


  1. I can see why it took you awhile to finish this post. You'll be glad you had such great details on C's sickness. Glad she's doing better. She is such a sweetheart. And cute wreath! (It was nice seeing you yesterday too)

  2. Oh she looks so sad with all the tubes and the suctioning and everything. I didn't know at the time that all this was going on and I'm so sorry you had to go through this. What a trouper you are, always staying positive. I sure appreciate your posts - it helps me to feel connected to you even though we are far apart. Enjoy your healthy little newborn!


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