I was hoping that my first post after my little hiatus would be to introduce you to our beautiful baby boy Felix. I’ll still be writing that post very soon, but not today. Today I want to share a reminder to never take these little lives for granted.
Everyone says it but having baby number two really is incredibly different to number one. With Poppy I would actively avoid contact with anyone who I knew was ill and would internally curse someone if they hadn’t pre-warned me that they or their child had a cold before we came into contact with them. The first time Poppy met Felix, when he was a mere six hours old, she sneezed directly on to his face and you know what? I didn’t freak out, I just thought, well this is how it’s going to be buddy, you’ve got to get used to living with a human petri dish. Then Poppy got a really really horrible cold, and before we knew it, my husband had it, then I had it and finally, at four weeks old, poor Felix got it. I could tell he was feeling rotten, of course he was, after all I felt horrific and I was able to take a cocktail of drugs to combat the symptoms. Before long the blocked up stage had hit and he was gasping for breath when I was feeding him and being sick after his feeds as he was swallowing so much mucus. Yuck. I took him to the doctors hoping that they’d say it was ok to give him small doses of Calpol to ease his symptoms but they gave him a good check over and prescribed saline drops to break up the mucus. These seemed to help so the next day we cracked on with daily life, took him to be officially registered and went out for lunch but the whole day he was seriously off his game; crying constantly, barely eating, being sick and only settling when he was being held by me, not at all like my hungry and content little boy. Then when we got home that afternoon he developed a wheeze, barely audible under the rattle of his breath catching phlegm in his throat. Having had childhood asthma I know how alarming it is and how quickly it can become dangerous. So I thought I’d keep an eye on it and take him in to the doctors the next day if it persisted.
Skip forward to 3am the next morning, neither Felix nor I have had any sleep and I’m covered in sick, the wheeze has got a whole lot louder and has been joined by a hacking cough. Time to call in reinforcements in the form of slumbering husband. Whilst he tried to soothe the baby I Googled ‘baby 4 weeks wheeze’ and inevitably found horror stories so decide that I’d definitely take him to the doctors in the morning.
Then I realised he’d changed from his usual lovely pink to a funny pale shade and had developed pink rings around his eyes and all of a sudden I wasn’t happy about waiting until the doctors opened. Thinking they’d probably tell me to wait to take him to the doctors in the morning I called the NHS 111 service.
To my surprise after answering questions (making sure I didn’t leave out any detail about his symptoms) they said that they wanted me to speak to a doctor in the next two hours and that they would arrange for one to call me. Great!
Twenty minutes later at just gone 5am, husband was tucked back up in bed and I was recounting the symptoms to the doctor who, to my surprise (and relief), said they wanted to see him immediately and booked us an appointment at Leicester Royal Infirmary to see an out of hours doctors.
Oh, I was’t expecting a hospital visit I think. Maybe this is slightly more serious than I thought.
So I jumped in the car, leaving the toddler and husband at home in bed, trying my hardest to keep it together and still thinking they’ll take one look at him and tell me I’ve made a fuss over nothing, roll their eyes and send me on my way.
During the consultation the doctor didn’t seem too concerned and muttered about them only observing him if he referred us and he almost sent us on our way until I asked about Felix’s rather deep chest compressions when breathing in that I spotted whilst doing up Felix’s vest. All of a sudden the doctor phoned the children’s ward and we were being sent through.
Once there the nurses ran a series of checking-in observations – weight, how often he’s feeding, wet nappies and oxygen levels etc. Then they checked his oxygen levels again…then they casually said they’d “just leave the monitor on him for while, nothing to worry about. Oh and someone will be through to give you a cup of tea and some toast”. Wow, wasn’t expecting hospitality when we probably wouldn’t even be staying long!
Then the doctor came through to our little side room, checked him over and asked lots of questions about his feeding since he’d been poorly and before I knew it we were very calmly being moved into a bay on the ward with the nurse saying “we’re just going to give him a bit of oxygen as his levels are a bit low, nothing to worry about”.
OK, keep it together Thompson.
They taped the tiniest oxygen tubes to his face and all of a sudden he looked tiny and helpless and I wanted to cry.
Shortly afterwards the nurses, who were all totally lovely, explained that he needed to be taking on more fluids so they were going to put in a feeding tube and asked if I wanted to stay whilst they did it. How could I possibly leave that tiny person just to save my feelings?
Over the next few hours I witnessed my little boy decline and when my husband joined me later that afternoon he was unable to open his eyes fully and was falling in and out of consciousness. Thankfully when he was reaching this point we were in the best place and he was being supported with oxygen and food otherwise I really dread to think what would have happened.
The doctors were able to diagnose him really quickly and discovered that it was Bronchiolitis causing his problems. If you have a toddler then you’ve probably had a run in with it already. Most children will have had it by the time they’re two and it would have just seemed like a nasty cough and cold. Tiny little bodies on the other hand, aren’t able to cope with it like bigger children and need help to keep them going whilst they fight it off.
We ended up staying in for five days whilst the little man got back up to full strength. The first night being on a main ward then they moved us to a private room for the rest of our stay as they were worried about him picking up other germs as he was so little.
Whilst we were there the level of care was incredible, the nurses and doctors checked him constantly, really listened to my concerns and actually acted on them rather than dismissing me. They brought me food if I was feeding during meal times and made the whole experience as anxiety free as possible for both of us. They even brought him a sensory machine that fixed to the side of the cot and played white noise and did a light show.
Thankfully we are both now home, Felix is almost completely recovered and I’m just about getting over the exhaustion.
So the moral of the story is to never ever ever feel like you’re wasting people’s time and always trust your instincts when it comes to your children. You know them best and you alone will recognise changes that other people might not see. After all, these little people are too precious not to.