Serious post alert: This past weekend, on the Friday night, it was hubby’s birthday and we stayed up last drinking G&Ts and eating takeaway pizza. What a time to be alive! Little One had already had quite a bad day despite visits from her granny and had been coughing or really clingy. We were hoping that she’d settle for the evening and we could get some Friday night vibes on the go (you know, Gogglebox and then QI – rock and the roll), but she was so up and down, we ended up bringing her down into the living room to sit up for a bit and stop coughing. There’s nothing as sobering as having an ill little girl in front of you and although she once again settled for an hour, I found myself sat in her room at 1am listening to her breathing. It was a very paced and laboured little breath and it hadn’t really calmed down all evening despite her being fast asleep. I propped her up with some pillows all the while my mummy’s instinct alarm was ringing in my head, so I decided to call 111 at 1.30am.
Having never called for a medical assistance, apart from when I kept ringing the maternity ward triage line begging them to let me in the night before labour, I think I was expecting the same sort of response to what I got with the mat triage midwives: “wait it out, see how you feel…” but instead I was put through to a paramedic within a couple of minutes who got to speak to Little One (as she had to be woken up by this point), did an assessment and he then made a referral to the on-call doctor who would call back.
At 3.50am I was called back and told to go to A&E with her just to be safe. I’d had 40 minutes sleep at this point and don’t think hubby had had any. I sat there after I put the phone down listening to her breathing, which hadn’t changed a beat, thinking “this is the right thing to do isn’t it?” My quandary was that she seemed fine. She was breathing, no blue lips, no temperature – yet it was the speed and regularity of the breaths that had me worried. A big bolt of mother’s instinct kicked-in and I got us both dressed and packed as best as I could being so bleary. Poor husband helped me pack a bag (and I explain what a bad job I did at that later) and rang for a taxi.
We arrived at the local children’s hospital A&E at 4.30am and was seen by a nurse within minutes. Little One was hooked up to a monitor straight away to see how much oxygen she had in her blood. She was given an oxygen mask and then a while later she was given two inhalers to breath in via a spacer. She screamed like a banshee during this process. One puff, then count to ten; one puff then count to ten… I thought I was going to cry at one point. It was so awful to hear her scream but inside I hope that it would help her inhale the dose better! We had to wait an hour each time in-between doses from the inhaler and before we knew it we were still sitting on the chairs in the arrival part of reception three hours later. I had asked the doctor what the worst thing that could have happened had we not brought her in would have been and they were quick to play down my worry. “Things can escalate quickly so it’s best to be sure”, she had told me and so we had felt comforted that we had done the right thing.
Despite having a little sleep and a little nibble on food, her breathing just wasn’t relaxing and so we were moved to the short stay ward. Having not laid in a bed for over 24 hours and with no sleep, moving from a plastic chair to a cushioned chair was luxury for us and moving to her new cot where there was a TV with CBeebies was HEAVEN for her. I managed to convince Josh to go home for a while as it looked as if we may be waiting all day to “stretch” the time in between doses. A day without food, lots of water, any sleep or general comforts means nothing, I mean NOTHING when you have a little one to look after and making sure she was OK was all that mattered. However, the porter came by to ask if she wanted any food and ended up bringing back a whole bag of snacks. In may haste to leave the house I didn’t even have a handbag with me and was so relieved to be able to feed her something substantial and what she didn’t want I ate. It was a cheese sandwich, crisps and juice festival.
She fell asleep later in the morning in her cot so I climbed in with her and had a snooze too – my first sleep in 27 hours . When I woke I was surrounded by two nurses and a doctor was wanted an examination, so I had to creak and crack myself back into position and gently sit Little One up so she could get another dose. Poor thing was not happy with this at all but it was over soon enough and she was able to go back to lying in bed surrounded by custard cream biscuits and crumbs. This was her happy place for the afternoon and she did it all while watching Justin’s House which for those who have read my previous posts will know I have learnt to love.
The afternoon ticked by and Josh returned with clothes, food, a phone charger, my glasses – all of the basics which I hadn’t even thought of when I left the house. I bought her nappy bag, warm toddler-sized clothes a cuddly bear to keep her company. Considering it was 4am when I packed this I don’t think i did too bad except that for some reason I had the time to put in contact lenses and wear skinny jeans to the hospital (most uncomfortable outfit EVER). I am an idiot at 4am I’ve decided. Josh is a legend. A hero. A man with a plan. We scoffed last night’s pizza and read books to her while we waited and waited. Her little chest was still racing up and down. The nurses from last night came back onto shift and jokingly scolded her for still being here. More puffs, more tears, more cuddles. late afternoon the paediatric doctor arrived to assess her and recommended a nebulizer which is meant is provide a misty air to help open up the breathing. My brother had many as a child and from what I remembered they were meant to be calming and soothing, but for a nearly two year old having a mask on her face was scary and stressful and we heard her little heart race on the monitor as I help the mask to her and tried to stop her writing. Would this never end???
The wikihow.com website has a nice picture showing how to use a nebulizer with a small child. This really is wishful thinking:
Our long day drew into night and it looked as if we would be staying overnight. Josh went home to collect some night things and when he got back played and played with Little One until she was tired enough to try and sleep. We were the last in the short stay ward and had the pick of all of the toys and books. It was hard to roam up and down the wards general as it had become busy and emergency after emergency happened. We saw adolescents with police escorts through to tiny babies and their chalk-white parents trying to keep calm. Everyone that worked there (and I mean EVERYONE), despite whatever mood they were in, was amazing. We had everything explained patiently to us time and again and Little One was showered with attention and care. We really are very lucky to have an institution like the NHS.
We were taken up to the overnight ward late at night and as I walked in and saw the fold out bed next to the cot, I thought I might cry. We were all so tired that a good night’s sleep was on the cards. Josh went home and me and LO went straight to sleep with her only waking gently when the nurse came by to the do a final check before bed. She told me in whispered tones that she would provide another dose in the night and if it went well we could go in the morning. Sleep came heavy and hard and I only woke once with mother’s instinct to check on her. I felt safe and in good hands. By the time we both woke at 6.30am she could breath normally. It was such as relief to not hear the deep little rasps of her chest struggling to pull breath in and out. The nurse came by to confirm the news that we could leave and provide her with some steroids and her own inhaler for use in case once outside the hospital.
By this point, she had tired of being brave and just wanted to cuddle and go home. We dressed and headed down to the entrance to wait for our lift (her face when she saw Daddy was priceless) and was back home watching cartoons within the hour (with biscuits). What a weekend.