The Family

The Family
For Christmas 2010

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Our First Night Home

The drive from the hospital to home took about an hour.  So we got home from the hospital late in the afternoon on January 22nd.  After we got home, we showed Nathan around and introduced him to his new room and crib. 

The evening was relatively eventless, but that night was one of the scariest and craziest nights we've ever been a part of.  It really tested us as parents and our ability to care for Nathan.

Before Nathan came home, we made sure to buy a baby monitor so that we could hear anything that happened in his room.  In addition, we decided to place the pulse oximeter in the hallway between our room and Nathan's room, so that we could hear it when it went off and quickly see what was causing it to beep.  We figured with both of those, we had our bases covered.

Nathan fell asleep sometime around 11pm.  Soon thereafter we made our way back to bed as well, very, very, very grateful that for the first time we were all home together.

And then the night started to fall apart.

Not long after we laid down to sleep, Nathan's pulse oximeter started beeping,  indicating that his blood sat level was lower than 95%.  Beep beep beep.  Beep beep beep.  Beep beep beep. So we would go in and check on Nathan.  And he looked just fine.

So we went and laid back down again.  And sure enough, it wasn't very long after we had laid down -- Beep beep beep.  Beep beep beep. Beep beep beep.  Nathan's sat level was reading low again. But Nathan was still looking fine.  Sleeping peacefully.  Skin pink, not blue.  So all was well, right?

Well, since Nathan was still looking good and breathing normally, it was entirely likely that the monitor was misreading.  That happens sometimes.  And even though the sat level was reading low, it was still reading in the 90s, which was still generally pretty good and pretty safe. 

So the thought crossed our mind of ignoring the alarm.  But what if it dropped lower than the 90s?  That wasn't a chance we could take.  So I decided that we should sleep with our heads at the foot of the bed so that we could more easily look at the monitor.

But...Beep beep beep.  Beep beep beep.  Beep beep beep.  It just kept going off.  And we had no idea what the problem was.

In the hospital, whenever Nathan would de-sat, they would up his oxygen slightly.  On our home tanks, there was no "slightly" when it got up to a liter.  The only up was up to a liter and a half.  That was much more oxygen than Nathan needed, but we decided that it was better to go up and try and get the beeping to stop and go crazy all night.

And it worked...for a little while.

Beep beep beep.  Beep beep beep.  Beep beep beep. 

By this time, most of the night had passed and Nathan had become really fussy.  So we decided to just bring him into our room.  We had been gifted a bassinet by one of Bekah's friends.  So we put the bassinet at the foot of the bed, placed Nathan inside it, and turned off the monitor.  That way we could keep an eye on Nathan ourselves.

Eventually Nathan settled down and we were able to get about an hour of sleep.  Then he awoke and was fussy again.  So we got up and checked his oxygen tank, which was in the red, meaning empty, or at least close to it.  Apparently, being set at a liter and a half had emptied the tank a lot faster than we had anticipated.  So Bekah hurried and hooked Nathan up to the spare, full tank we had.  But Nathan had probably not been on the oxygen for at least an hour.  Maybe more.  We had been told at the hospital that on a liter, the tank would last about 24 hours.  So we were extremely surprised to find it empty so soon.

We both felt sick and horrible.  We hadn't even made it a day and already things were going wrong.  Was Nathan going to be okay?  Were we going to end up back in the hospital after less than a day?

We were quickly on the phone with our home health company to get more tanks.  The representative asked how much oxygen Nathan was on, and when I told him he seemed more than a little incredulous that a little baby should be on that much oxygen because "that is a lot for an adult."  I assured him many times that it was correct.

However, instead of bringing extra tanks, he brought a oxygen concentrator instead, similar to the one shown below.

A concentrator is quite the contraption.  Room air is about 78% nitrogen and only 21% oxygen.  The concentrator sucks in room air and filters out the nitrogen, producing pure oxygen.  It runs on a conventional power source (AC outlet in the wall) and there are never any tanks to change out.  And most importantly, it had a knob that allowed the the rate of oxygen flow to be changed ever so slightly up or down.  In short, it was a godsend!

And so went our first night.  Very long.  Very, very crazy.  And very, very, very scary.

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