Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Baby Coen's Bronchiolitis

So, this happened two weeks ago where Coen was hospitalized for bronchiolitis. Zoe has been catching the flu bug a lot this year since she started pre-school, and besides loading her up with fruits, fish oil and recently taking a flu vaccine, there is nothing much we can prevent but to just let her immune system grow stronger each time. Dealing with a sick toddler is tiring but now that we have a baby at home, flu bug has become a real serious thing.

At 3 weeks old, Coen has already caught it once from Zoe and he had to put up with the nasal spray prior every feed and dealt with sleeping with a blocked nose. For those who doesn't know what a nasal spray is, its basically spraying salt water up the nostrils to soften the mucus, and either he would sneezed it out or have it all swallowed in. Just imagine how uncomfortable it is if someone would to squirt liquid up your nostrils about 6-7 times a day. But thankfully this baby here is such a champ and doesn't struggle much at all.

So then after recovering from that flu, Coen would still have stuffy nose especially in the night. So, for weeks I thought the flu hasn't really went away, but we later found out from our PD that this stuffy nose is probably due to allergic rhinitis where he is prone to the dust particles that put him at risk for asthma.SIGH. I don't know how to put into words how disheartened I felt when I heard those words from the PD that day, and right now I am just praying and confessing that he gets totally healed miraculously by God and also our effort of keeping the house super clean and dust free as much as possible.

His bronchiolitis started when Zoe was down with a viral infection with high fever and very bad coughing for an entire week. I think this is probably the first time I have seen her so sick and had to be removed from school for 1.5 weeks. In addition, the husband was also down with a very bad cough and flu. So, as much as possible we have kept Coen away from the both of them, but by day 5 he started having blocked nose, signs of phlegm and slight coughing. So off we went to the PD the next day to get him checked. As expected, he has no medication because he was only 10 weeks old then and we could only clear his blocked nose with the nasal spray and nose drops. If his cough turned chesty, we would have to return to get his lungs checked.

The next day, things didn't get better, he was coughing a lot more and they were all loud hard intense cough. Just imagine coughing very very hard like you are going to vomit out your food, yup that kind of coughing from this tiny baby. It was so heartbreaking to hear. Day 3 he was a lot worse and by early evening he started wheezing. As it was a Sunday, we have to decide if we wanted to wait till the next day to bring him to the PD or to seek medical attention immediately. After much consideration, we decided to make our way to the A&E as he is too small and we do not want to be caught in a situation later in the middle of the night where we do not know how to deal with his breathing difficulty.

So, the plan was that the husband and my MIL would go to the hospital first while I stayed home to care for Zoe. And then after she has slept, I would leave her with our domestic helper and make my way down to the hospital so that they can both go back home for the night. The husband updated me all these while and when the PD came down to check on Coen, he put her through the phone to speak to me and explained what needs to be done, which was to ward Coen and be treated with the  nebulizer for every 4 hours. Though I was already prepared for that, my heart still sank knowing that this baby was really that sick

The nights with Coen were so long and hard to pass. It wasn't because Coen was difficult and crying all these while, he was in fact such an angel sleeping after every feed, didn't need to be carried and cried only when he was hungry or when he was extremely uncomfortable. I didn't sleep a wink because I had to express my milk every 3 hours, and then the nurses would come in every 4 hours with the nebulizer, and then in between Coen would need to be fed and have his diapers changed. In addition, we were sharing a ward with another child who was also down with bronchitis and hence the nurses also came in and out to check on him and nebulize him. Oh and not forgetting, there were other kids crying and screaming in other wards. As a mother, it was extremely hard to listen to those helpless cries.

The very difficult part of the entire hospital stay was when Coen needed help to have his mucus and phlegm sucked out. It was 2am, he just finished his milk but he was really struggling very badly to breathe and was throwing his head backwards a few times scarily. I carried him out of his ward and asked the nurses if there was any way they can help him. The nurse proceeded to lie him down on the bed, inserted a long catheter that was attached to a suction machine into his nostrils and down the back of his throat to suck the mucus and phlegm out. As an adult, I can't even imagine how painful and uncomfortable that would be, furthermore for a 10 weeks old little baby. Needless to say, Coen cried so badly, I don't think I have ever seen him cried this loud or hard. He cried so hard that there were a few seconds you couldn't even hear him and his tears were all streaming down his cheeks. All these while for the past few days I was trying to stay strong and focused and not let my emotions get the better of me, but this sight just made the dam broke. He grabbed and held my finger so hard the whole time and I just cried together with him. It was extremely extremely hard and traumatizing to watch. He slept soundly afterwards, but yours truly still couldn't stop crying afterwards for a good one hour. And till today I still shudder at the thought of that scene.

Oh and like once wasn't enough, he had to go through 3 times of the above procedure which is called "deep dramatic suction" quoted by my PD. I witnessed twice and cried twice, and the very last time that was witnessed by the husband must have been extremely painful because shockingly there was blood from the catheter insertion and his milk regurgitation afterward had blood stains too. I decided that that's it, 3 times and we were done. If he wasn't having extreme breathing difficulty, we would not let the nurses do this to him and would use our own nose cleaner from Pigeon (see here) to extract the mucus ourselves. With extreme caution of course, and only when necessary, as the insides of the nose of a baby are still very fragile and when we use such apparatus, we might suck too hard and injured the veins inside.

Coen's milk intake had also dropped by 50% during his stay in the hospital, but he isn't a skinny baby to begin with (he is at the 75th percentile), so there wasn't issues about him losing weight. I was physically really tired having only return home to take a 2-3 hours nap in the afternoon and then back to the hospital again after Zoe's bedtime. But thankfully by day 3, Coen was well enough to be discharged and we could go home to continue to use the nasal spray - which he has gotten so used to it that he totally doesn't fidget a single bit whenever we squirt those salt water up his nostrils - he is really such a trooper! And continuing the nebulizer for the next 5 days for every 6 hours and eventually if he gets better stretching it to 8 and then 12 hours. And as I typed this, Coen has just fully recovered a few days back and we couldn't be happier!

So, this ordeal has really drained me - sick toddler, sick husband, sick baby. I am just thankful for the grace of God and the prayers of our loved ones to go through this. And I am also extremely thankful that Coen had been so easy all these while when he went through this; he is really such a darling and made me such a proud mama. The next time anyone of us fall sick, we would be whisking that sick person out of the house for full 100% quarantine from the baby. And may God forbid any of us would ever end up in the hospital ever ever again.

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