“This machine is acting up; it’s so difficult to get a good read!”
The nurse that was taking my son’s pulse and oxygen level was having a very difficult time. He was only a day old, and my husband and I watched for twenty minutes as she struggled to get a reading high enough to pass so we could take our baby home. When she was finally able to get a number that allowed him to be discharged, she assured us the “pulse-ox” machines could take awhile to get a good reading. Two years earlier, our first child had been easy and had no health problems whatsoever, and we, being naïve and inexperienced, trusted her judgment.
The nurse was the third person at the hospital that assured us our baby was fine. The nursery nurse insisted that his purplish color was normal, and the pediatrician was certain that his audible breathing was just the result of his nasal passages being swollen from delivery.
I was an anxious new parent desperate to hear good, reassuring news from the health professionals at the hospital.
That was my first mistake.
A week later, the nagging feeling that something was not right continued to rattle me as I listened to him struggle to breathe. Family and friends were very supportive and offered advice: maybe he was developing allergies or perhaps it was the cat?
That afternoon, I couldn’t stand by and listen to him struggle anymore so I called the nurse line. They said to try a hot, steamy bathroom for fifteen minutes and see if it helped. I steamed up the bathroom, stripped Clark down to his diaper, and held him hopeful for the entire quarter of an hour, sweating the whole time. It was worth it. For the rest of the day, he breathed easier.
It didn’t last long.
In the middle of the night, he started having trouble again, so I took him back into the steamy bathroom, but this time it didn’t help. He sounded worse. I tearfully told my husband that I had had enough, and I was taking him to the closest emergency room. I was convinced he was suffocating.
A mother’s intuition is to be trusted. The emergency room cleaned out his nose, put him on oxygen, and sent us by ambulance to Children’s at Memorial downtown where he was hooked up to some more oxygen and a pulse/oxygen monitor for the night. His oxygen levels were dipping, and he was having trouble getting enough of it because of the high altitude of Colorado Springs. Apparently, this is a relatively common problem with infants, and many that are born here have to be put on oxygen. He was on oxygen for about six weeks before his body was able to adjust and get enough of it on its own.
It would be easy to be upset with the nurses and doctors at the hospital I delivered him at, but in all honesty, it isn’t their fault. I thought something was wrong and didn’t follow up with another doctor or nurse before leaving the hospital. While it is incredibly important to be able to trust your child’s doctor and other health professionals who care for them, it’s also imperative that parents always go with their gut.
Every parent has been told that they are just being an oversensitive “new mommy” or “new daddy” when they’re worried about their new little one, and a lot of the time, it’s true. However, I would encourage each and every parent to take their concerns very seriously, even if others may think your concerns are negligible.
If you’re worried about your child, call your pediatrician’s nurse line or take them in to the doctor’s office. Try not to second-guess yourself. No one knows your kiddo better than you! Get a second opinion. I wish I had. If I had gotten someone else to look at him before we left the hospital the first time, we may not have had to rush to the emergency room in the middle of the night.
I’m happy to report that Clark is a healthy, happy baby now. I am so grateful that his pediatrician took the time to get us follow-up appointments with three different specialists to ensure he was okay.