Home sweet home

After 73 days on the neonatal we got the great news that we could take our little boy home. We were so excited and waited all day for his medication to be ordered in and delivered to the hospital. I went and had my first aid training which was mandatory for discharge and Neil did his car seat challenge. At 7pm all the medication was handed over, paperwork was signed and Neil had a repeat of the new born test where they tested his reflexes and checked him over. By 8pm we were home! Straight away I needed to unpack his medication and prep for his next bottle, there was no time to sit and relax!

A three month old premature baby in a baby bouncer
Home at last

The next few days were wonderful. Neil settled in to his new home really well. It all felt more relaxed as I didn’t need to ask permission to hold my baby. I wasn’t on display to doctors, nurses and other parents while changing his nappy or clothes and it felt good. He had his own bath so I didn’t need to wait for the shared one to be free and I was learning all his little ways better than we were in hospital.

It wasn’t all easy though. I still needed to figure out how to have a shower and do household tasks without him screaming the house down when I was out of sight. We were getting into our own little routine and I was starting to enjoy my maternity leave. Then on the fourth day it all went wrong.

On day 3 we had a quick trip to the children’s ward for Neil to get his shoulder X-rayed. It was clicking a lot and the community neonatal nurse wanted him to be checked just in case.

We never saw it coming

My husband took Neil for his bottle while I had a cup of tea, lunch and then went for a shower in peace. Neil had just finished his bottle and my husband went to wind him. I was about to get up to go for my shower and my husband was checking Neil concerned. He had stopped breathing! He sprang to his feet and we could visibly see Neil turning blue.

My husband placed Neil on a firm surface and began to perform CPR while I dialled 999. The CPR didn’t seem to be working and I remember my husband looking at me and telling me “I can’t get him back”. He did the next round of CPR and we got a little cry from Neil. Just then a first responder and 2 ambulances arrived. The paramedic took Neil from my husband’s arms and started to check him over. I relayed Neil’s medical history – I was a pro at this now and could deliver all the important facts in under 2 minutes!

Mum and her little boy against her warming him up. An oxygen mask over mum's shoulder to help baby
Me and warming my little boy up shortly after receiving first aid

Back to hospital we go

His oxygen saturation levels were low but his heart rate was within the normal range for Neil. His temperature had dipped to 33 degrees (it should be 37 degrees) so he was wrapped in a blanket and held close. The first responder and one ambulance left and I went to repack hospital bags, all the medication we would need and to throw on some clothes. Within a few minutes I was ready to go and I was bundled out the door with Neil in my arms, strapped onto the bed in the back of the ambulance and we were blue lighted back to the hospital where we would be spending the next week while Neil recovered from bronchiolitis.

Baby in a hospital cot with oxygen prongs on
My little boy in a hospital cot with oxygen prongs on

From this experience I learnt that the first aid course I took ended up being lifesaving. My husband’s job requires him to regularly take first aid training so we were lucky that he’s very familiar with what to do.

My tips for family and friends are:

  • Talk to the preemie parent about any first aid training they got. Ask them to run through what they learnt, this will help them to keep the training fresh in their minds and reassure them that if you are around their child you would know what to do.
  • Preemie parent are usually sent home with a Bliss pack that includes a DVD. Watch the DVD together, it isn’t long and has a lot of useful information.
  • We were sent home with an A4 sheet of paper that showed visually with short instructions underneath how to perform CPR. This was pinned to our fridge so it was easy for everyone to get to and was seen regularly. If the hospital didn’t put one in the paperwork then have a quick look online for one.
  • Take a first aid course! They are not expensive and cover a wide range of first aid. I recommend Mini First Aid who have courses up and down the country. To find out more about my refresher training with them then take a read of my blog here.

I hope no one ever has to go through this experience but it’s better to have some knowledge rather than no knowledge.