When we began bringing babies home from the NICU a few weeks ago, I knew we would begin to face more "normal" challenges as parents. But our system is still based on preemies and multiples, a bit different than your average newborn. We measure bottle feed amounts in milliliters and time how long they take to eat, stick to a strict three hour schedule and have a pretty standard program we follow each day. We still have to work hard with the babies on their feeds, coaxing them to eat enough, keep them awake, help them burp well and minimize spitup and reflux issues.
Unfortunately, as with any baby, reflux is a standard and nearly unavoidable issue. We have one baby, Harrison, who is a happy spitter and doesn't get upset or require meds; one that's on Prevacid and has to sleep at a slight incline; and now sweet Trystan decided to join the group.
Last Thursday, we finished an evening feed and I was holding Trystan in my arms while surfing the web on my laptop. About 20 minutes in, I heard her make a funny noise and looked down to see her eyes bulging, face turning red and formula coming out her nose. I jumped up and ran into the living room where my husband was and flipped her over so her stomach was laying on my forearm and started pounding on her back, protocol for when an infant is choking. Then my husband quickly took over while I went to get a nasal aspirator because we realized the formula was partially digested so it was thick and was clogging up her airway and not budging. She was beginning to turn purple around her mouth and face. I suctioned each nostril as quickly as I could with the electronic aspirator and was able to pull all the formula out of her nose. Trystan gave a blood curdling scream and started breathing again, thank God. We checked to be sure her passageways were clear and her color was returning to normal. Then I sat down and bawled for about 10 seconds. It was awful.
Unfortunately, this morning the same thing happened twice in less than two hours. Thanks to the encouragement from our pediatrician, my husband and I brought Trystan to the ER while his mom and a good friend of ours stayed with the other three babies.
They did an EKG on her heart and a chest x-ray, both of which came back normal. Then they gave us the option to stay overnight so she could be monitored. We discussed it and chose to stay. After talking with our pedi again, we all agreed we wanted to be absolutely sure this was reflux and there are no other underlying issues we might have missed otherwise. There's no medication to cure reflux, only to minimize discomfort from the acid and such. This is something she will simply have to grow out of, when she's bigger and stronger and able to clear her passageways with a good cough or sneeze. For now, her reaction is to stiffen up and hold her breath. Needless to say, it's going to be very hard for me to sleep at night for awhile.
So here we are in our room, Trystan and I getting a little mommy-daughter time. I told her she can only pull a stunt like this once! It's a big dose of deja vu from our two months spent at the NICU. All too familiar hospital surroundings, heart rate and oxygen saturation monitors, machines beeping, muffled conversations in the hallway, nurses coming and going in the room. But we don't have quite the stress level as before; we are here for one night instead of two months and I'm not pregnant this time! I have it dark and quiet in here, it's actually fairly peaceful. I am feeding Trystan every three hours just like we do at home and hope to log some sleep time in between. Should be easier since it only takes me 20 minutes to finish, versus an hour and 15! Having her on the monitors gives me a bit of comfort right now, since we will know immediately if she stops breathing for any period of time.
Baby girl is warm and comfortable and sleeping soundly now, so I'm going to follow suit. My husband headed home to tend to our other three. We are so thankful for his mom who held down the fort for us today, as well as our family friends who came over to lend a hand. Both my husband and I were already pretty worn out and events like this just drain any small reserve energy we have. Hoping tomorrow is a better day, though I might be sporting some gray hairs I most certainly didn't have before...