Notes to Little Man: GOSH is probably the hardest post I have had to write. I knew this was going to be the case because of what we all went through at the time. It is difficult writing about how you felt when you thought there was a possibility of losing your newborn child. It was really something I just wanted to put behind us. But, writing about and to Fidget & Little Man is what this blog is all about: the good or the bad; happy or painful.

But let’s start with a Brightside comment: to see Little Man just a week after he was discharged (picture below left) from Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital (GOSH) would have belied how poorly he was when admitted.

Notes to Little Man: GOSH

In the main, babies are stronger than we realise – as everyone was eager to tell us at the time. And thank heaven they were right. Little Man bounced back with a smile on his face.

And now, twenty months later, Little Man is an enthusiastic bundle of happiness, who enjoys chasing big sister, Fidget, climbing everything and jumping off if he can get away with it. The climbing and jumping are a worry, but we’ll get there. But because of the first few weeks of his life, I just feel like we need to keep an eye on him. For instance, if he actually sleeps through, I still get up during the night to check him. Don’t laugh, I know a lot of you parents out there do the same thing! Let us hope that I stop by the time he gets his own place!

And thank heaven we kept an eye on him the evening he was admitted to hospital. As mentioned in my previous post, Notes to Little Man: Neonatal Jaundice, when Little Man came home after his bout of jaundice it coincided with Fidget having a very bad cold. By all accounts most of the children at her nursery had it. It was one of those cold bugs that ran riot. And it caught Little Man too. He soon became very congested. His chest rattled when he breathed. Within a day or so we needed a trip to our GP. The best they could advise was for us to keep an eye on him. So we watched him closely, which is nothing out of the ordinary. But that very same evening things took a turn for the worse. As mentioned in my post ‘Neonatal Jaundice’, Little Man became very lethargic and would not take his milk. He needed to feed, so mum kept trying and it was then that he started to cry, but there was no sound. He screamed silently and then turned quite blue, and went limp in her arms. He was unresponsive to the point of appearing lifeless. Mum had the peace of mind to start giving Little Man mouth to mouth whilst I called the emergency services and explained what had happened. We then went through the harrowing experience of following instructions over the phone whilst we waited for the paramedics to arrive. He was just twelve days old.

By the time the paramedics arrived, and thanks to mum, Little Man was pink and responsive but still lethargic and tachypneic. Tachypnea is an increased rate of breathing, like fast, shallow panting. It was decided to admit him, so mum went off to hospital whilst I stayed with big sister Fidget and arranged for my sister to come and look after her so that I could go to the hospital. She was to spend the week with them being spoilt rotten!

By the time I reached hospital Little Man was in resus. He had had another episode in the ambulance, which in many respects was good because it allowed the paramedics to witness what we could only describe: Little Man was apneic and cyanosed. For those, like me, who are not in the medical profession, Apnea is defined as a temporary suspension of breathing for a period in excess of 20 seconds or more and is often associated with cyanosis. Cyanosis is:

“… usually caused by low blood oxygen levels or poor circulation. It can be a sign of a serious problem, so it’s important to seek medical advice. When blood becomes depleted of oxygen, it changes from bright red to darker in colour, and it’s this that makes the skin and lips look blue.” – NHS Choices

He was breathing via bag and mask ventilation for his first 20 minutes in resus until it was decided to intubate him. The decision to intubate was taken because of significant respiratory acidosis. Once again, for those of you who like me are not in the know:

“Respiratory acidosis, also called respiratory failure or ventilatory failure, is a condition that occurs when the lungs can’t remove enough of the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by the body. Excess CO2 causes the pH of blood and other bodily fluids to decrease, making them too acidic. This is because the body must balance the ions that control pH. Respiratory acidosis is typically caused by an underlying disease or condition.” – Healthline

And it looked like the underlying problem for Little Man pointed towards bronchiolitis. Little Man’s chest xray showed that his lungs were hyperinflated with evidence of the right upper and mid zone having collapsed. Our Little Man was really going through the mill.

Notes to Little Man: GOSH

The decision was made to transfer Little Man to the NICU at GOSH. It was at this stage that the Children’s Acute Transport Service, or CATS team, stepped in. Once they had Little Man prepared for the journey, which included paralysing him to ensure he didn’t pull out any of the tubes and cables during the journey, we were on our way. Seeing Little Man paralysed was shocking to say the least. I have tried to describe the sight before and the closest I think I have come is to liken him to an old Victorian doll I once saw: his pallor was a waxy grey and there was not a hint of movement, just like an old doll. It was disconcerting to say the least.

We reached GOSH and the rest of that first night was a blur. The NICU team are amazing and so understanding of parents who are probably just getting in the way and asking too many questions they have had to answer a thousand times before. So it’s at this stage that I would like to say that the teams at Whipps Cross, the CATS team and the staff at GOSH are truly incredible. I know it’s their job, but I just want to say, what an amazing job they all do.

Notes to Little Man: GOSH

Little Man went through a barrage of tests at GOSH, including a lumbar puncture and cranial ultrasound, and it was decided that bronchiolitis was the most probable cause. I think this was mainly due to the fact that they spent so much time suctioning his airway and there was lots of mucus in evidence. The great thing about the NICU at GOSH is that Little Man had one-to-one care 24/7. We were also able to stay with him for as long as we liked. Although the staff were quite concerned about us and other parents in the NICU who didn’t want to leave their child’s bedside, and often suggested that we take a break, but a break really wasn’t on the cards. I know mum and I felt guilty when we weren’t with him. After all, what if something happens and you’re not there! The team in the NICU understood and allowed us to be near as much as we could.

GOSH also provided a room for us to stay in. But we slept very little. Check out mum’s eyes and I think they tell the story.

Notes to Little Man: GOSH

There was a phone in our room which was a direct line to Little Man’s nurse on the ward. I’m sure they must have become quite resigned to my calls and ‘how’s he doing’ question. I must have called two or three times each night, and the nurses answered my questions with calm consideration and understanding.

The week passed slowly, but Little Man was improving day by day. Then came the day when his nurse asked if we would like to hold him. The question was like a starter’s gun going off with mum winning the race to his bedside by a mere nanosecond! I’ve never wanted to hold someone so desperately as I did that day with Little Man. And as I watched mum take him in her arms, I wanted to hold them both even more. It was one of those moments where nothing else mattered. Moments as profound as this are quite rare.

Now that Little Man was well, I suddenly realised how much I missed Fidget. When I went to pick up Fidget, she flew into my arms and held me so tight I almost lost it. And when she whispered “I love you, daddy” as she hugged me the tears rolled. It was two very special moments in as many days. At that point, I just wanted to get our little family back together and safely home.

As I said earlier, Little Man really had gone through the mill in his first three weeks of life. Three weeks and three different hospitals. Please enough! was pretty much where I was at that time. And now …

Well, Little Man is Little Man: he’s big, boisterous, happy and healthy. There’s really nothing more we could ask for. Other than his and Fidget’s continued good health. What more could we want?


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