Floods of tears strolled down my cheeks as we laughed uncontrollably during our family game of Monopoly. The Voice finals were on that evening which I desperately wanted to watch but giving my time to the family superseded my personal desire to engage with Wil I am, Olly Murs, J Hud and the well respected Sir Tom Jones. The fact that we laughted so much (…shhhh I did cheat) was enough to compensate for my loss of TV time.
Child #4 had just been sent to jail for the fourth time; being a sore loser she was, let’s say, less than pleased to be going back. Jermiah-Lee aka child #6 had just woken up and was drinking a bottle being fed to him by daddy. We were ecstatic that he had been successfully bottle feeding for the past week. His Nasal Gastric (NG tube) had been out for a full four days.
The atmosphere was great and for the first time in a long time we all felt a sense of peace, happiness and normality.
It’s funny how that can all change in the twinkling of an eye. Nothing could have prepared us for what was about to happen. Jermiah-Lee started to scream because hubby had taken his bottle out of his mouth so that he could rub his back to help bring up his wind. We had been given strict feeding guidelines by his Speech and language therapist (SALT) who we respect and trust completely. So part of his feeding regime is to pace his feeds by stopping him periodically to bring up his wind. Jermiah, being a very greedy baby was less than impressed by this and started screaming quite passionately. I told hubby to put him over his shoulder and pat him in the hope that this would comfort him and stop the screaming as well as help to bring up his wind. He did stop crying and so we continued with our game. 10 seconds later his apnea monitor alarm went off. Thankfully, that morning we had been sent an apnea monitor by an amazing charity called the Nara breathing charity.
Had it not been for the monitor we would not have known that Jermiah-Lee wasn’t breathing. At that point panic set in, coupled with a multitude of thoughts and the need to remain composed, why was it alarming? What was was happening?
In my panic I firmly asked hubby to give the baby to me. I looked at him and his face was turning completely blue and no sound was coming out of his mouth. He was fixed in his facial expression as though frozen in time. I started screaming and called out for some to call an ambulance. I remember shouting “Jermiah, Jermiah” and shaking him gently but nothing…
His colour continued to fade; his lips, nose, cheeks and forehead became a murky blue/grey colour and not a single sound or breath was released.
The entire room was in chaos and pandemonium. The children were screaming, I was in a state of panic and it almost felt like an out of body experience, like I was watching it all take place from afar and not physically there.
Praise be to God, I was impressed and I believe by the Holy Spirit; to refresh myself with CPR just two days before this happened. I had watched a video that I recorded when we were trained to resuscitate before Jermiah-Lee left the Neonatal unit.
I put Jermiah on the floor and raised his chin slightly. I could hear the chaos in our living room as the air was filled with the screams of my children and voices on the phone to the paramedics. My surroundings quickly blurred out as though in slow motion and I focused only on Jermiah. My attention was only on bringing my boy back, hearing him scream and feeling the warmth of his breath against my cheek.
I tore open his baby grow to see if there was any chest movement at all, it was still, I knew at that point that whatever I did next would determine whether or not my son would live or die.
I gave him two breaths followed by 30 chest compressions using two of my fingers. I then looked at him again but still nothing. I gave him 5 breaths followed by more compressions, I don’t remember exactly what number I had gotten to, it could have been 13, 14…I Just don’t remember, but, he made a sound. A cough perhaps or a large gulp of air in, something happened which told me that he had responded to the intervention and was finally breathing. He started to cry faintly and I just held him filled with tears and whizzing emotions. Before I knew it the paramedics had arrived and had taken over.
It was a tumultuous and highly stressful situation. Jermiah-Lee was taken to our local hospital. I remember feeling as though I was being thrown around the ambulance as the blue lights screamed through the cars and whipped around bends. All I could do was pray in my heart for Jermiah to make a full recovery so that we could bring him back home.
Jermiah spent only a few days in hospital after that. As a family we were all very shaken and traumatised by the experience. It still haunts me to this very day. It wasn’t the first time Jermaih-Lee had had such a big apnea, it was in fact one of several. However, most had taken place in the hospital where trained nurses and doctors were to hand at the press of a button. I’ve been bounced out of the way in the past where the emergency button has been pressed and staff come running to the bedside in their dozens. Its always frightening. But, there is something far worse that you experience when an emergency happens in your own home and you have to rely only upon yourself and the knowledge and instincts that you have.
I now realise and value the benefit of knowing first aid and would encourage every parent to be trained in resuscitation. Had I not received that training and reviewed it at the time, I would be writing a very different blog post right now.
There is a lot of great information as well as paediatric first aid courses. I recommend finding the source of information that works best for you, video, reading the NHS guidelines or attending a course but definitely arm yourself with knowledge because for us, it really did save my sons life.
I have included some suggestions in the links above but I’d always recommend doing your own research and finding what works best for you.