asthma, part one

We got home from the hospital this afternoon, and I have a feeling this story is going to take a while to tell. I’m breaking it into pieces, since Cate is finally asleep and I’m on my way to bed right behind her. And besides, I need to make sure to thoroughly document this story so that when she grows up, she can read about the time that she scared the bejeezus out of her poor mother.

Ok, first of all, I knew something was up on Thursday night when I could barely get Cate to drink any milk before I put her to bed. She drank about 2 ounces, and normally would have had about 7 or 8. Oh well, I put her to bed anyway, and put the remainder of her milk back in the fridge, figuring that she’d wake up in about an hour and want it.

Sure enough, she did wake up about an hour later, but she didn’t want any milk (in fact, got upset when I even tried to offer her the bottle). She just fussed and squirmed, and I noticed that her eyes weren’t even open, she was just whining while still half-asleep. So I put her back in her crib, turned her Baby Mozart CD on again, and she quieted down and went back to sleep. An hour later, we repeated this process. And again. And again. Finally, somewhere around 3 a.m., I decided that nothing was really wrong, she probably wasn’t wanting to drink anything because of a sore throat (since I already knew she had a cold, it didn’t seem like that big a leap), and that she was just fussing because she got herself into a position in her crib that she didn’t like, and she didn’t have the energy to readjust herself.

So – and this is the part that I haven’t forgiven myself for yet – I turned off the baby monitor. I figured that if she really needed me, I’d hear her yell. She’s just down the hall, and it’s not like our walls are anywhere near soundproof. I thought to myself that if I just got a decent chunk of sleep, I’d be a much better parent to her in the morning. I know it probably seems totally logical, but in hindsight it feels totally selfish and horrible.

Around 7 a.m. on Friday morning, I heard her down the hall. When I got her out of her crib, the first thing she did was vomit mucus all over both of us. Lovely. I took us both into the bathroom, stripped off our jammies, and got us into the shower. Around that time, I noticed that she was wheezing. She was taking really short, rapid breaths and there was a horrible rattling sound when she breathed. I woke Dave up and made him listen to her. He agreed that we should take her to the doctor. I called Patsy to let her know we wouldn’t be coming, and got Cate and I both dressed and out the door. We didn’t have an appointment, but I knew the office opened at 8:00, so I figured we’d just show up and surely they could squeeze us in.

Turns out, the office technically does open at 8, but none of the doctors show up until much later. The only people there are nurses and administrative staff. After talking with the receptionist (who told me to come back at 9:30 – um, no way, sorry lady), she sent one of the nurses out to talk to me. She listened to Cate’s chest, and said, “hmm, ok, let’s get her into a room so we can check her oxygen levels.” She told one of the other nurses to get an oxygen tank ready because she thought they were going to need it.

Cate’s oxygen saturation level was around 80%. (It’s supposed to be 100.) So they brought in some oxygen for her, and tried to get a doctor on the phone to give an order for albuterol. We couldn’t get the mask on her face because she freaked out and tried to pull it off, so we settled for just holding it near her face and letting the oxygen blow as close to her nose and mouth as possible.

I was bordering on freaking out during most of this, but I kept it together pretty well. Cate’s pediatrician finally got there (after Cate had already had one round of albuterol, per the instructions she gave the office staff via her cell phone), and after listening to her chest and giving a second round of albuterol, she told the nurse that we should go to Children’s Hospital. The nurse asked something, I forget what, I just remember hearing Dr. Wen say, “No, call 911. They’ll get here faster.” That was when I freaked out. I hate crying in front of people, but I just lost it. They were all so sweet, telling me that I did the right thing, everything was going to be fine, etc. One of the nurses called Dave for me, since this was (of course!) the one time in my entire life that I forgot to charge my cell phone before leaving the house. After she got him on the phone, I went into the hall to talk to him while one of the nurses held Cate. We agreed that he’d meet me at the hospital.

Next time: ambulance rides, baby x-rays, and how I ended up in a pair of scrubs.

7 thoughts on “asthma, part one

  1. Oh, Cindy- anyone would have been terrified in your situation. Please, please don’t beat yourself up over the baby monitor thing. There’s no way you could have known it was anything other than fussing over a cold. You absolutely did the right thing.

  2. I absolutely agree with what Cat said. If you didn’t take her to the doctor in the morning, THEN you could beat yourself up. But not for thinking she was fussing over a cold.

    Gaby’s thrown mucus up all over me. It’s not so much fun.

  3. I third what Cat and Shannon said. Asthma is a really hard diagnosis to make in kids. Don’t beat yourself up; you did get Cate the care she needed and that’s what matters. I’m glad she’s home now.

  4. I know, I know. I just keep thinking that if I had noticed her wheezing earlier, I could’ve taken her straight to the ER and helped her to start feeling better sooner. It probably wouldn’t have made much of a difference, they probably still would’ve made us stay one night in the hospital to make sure she was ok, so it would’ve been sucky either way.

  5. I hope y’all never see the inside of CHMC again, but you are always welcome to call us since we live only 10 min away. And I can certainly bring in fortification supplies (coffee, sweets, vodka). Heck, I can also bring them over to the boonies. I hope lil’Catie is feeling better now. Go albuterol!

  6. Thanks, Cara. Although seriously, aside from the “holy crap my baby is sick and I can’t fix her” terror aspect, that was probably the nicest hospital I’ve ever been in. The staff was fantastic, and the food wasn’t even all that bad.

    Catie is definitely SO MUCH better now. She’s back to terrorizing the cats and trying to disassemble all the kitchen cabinets. So, pretty much totally normal, except for all the drugs we have to give her.

  7. I stumbled here after seeing your site on a list of referrers to my blog (it must have been a blogher link).

    But the post I landed on mirrors one that I had on my blog earlier this month. Right down to the oxygen levels and the pediatrician calling 911. It’s really terrifying. (

    My poor son Beckett was diagnosed with asthma when he was three months old.

    We’ve now been hospitalized twice; once at 3 mos. and then again earlier this month when he got the flu and croup after having been vaccinated for flu of course.

    I feel for you and I’m so sorry you had to go through this. Only a mommy who has been through it knows how extremely terrifying it is.

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