Saturday, February 24, 2007

A Few More Grey Hairs

Thanks for the jinx Clark!

While eating dinner out last night, I gave my little guy (almost 10 months old) the soft inside of a bread stick. He gummed (yes-still no teeth) it down so I gave him a little bit more. He ended up gulping down 3 or 4 bites when I decided to feed him some baby food. 2 spoonfuls in and he chokes. This is nothing new to us since he still has severe reflux (this is my 35 weeker-worse reflux than the 25 weeeker, by far). But, when he didn't stop choking I got a little concerned.

He finally stopped flailing his arms and kicking his legs long enough to relax those throat muscles. Hubby was satisfied that all was normal. But, I was holding him. I could feel his chest being sucked in every few breaths. Then the coughing started again. I took him into the bathroom since we now had an audience and my daughter's anxiety was kicking into high gear. The coughing didn't stop. Every few breaths he would cough. I laid him across my arm and turned him a little bit upside down and hit his back. Nothing. Did it again. Still nothing. I'm not sure what I was expecting to come flying out of his mouth since the baby food was stage 1 but his wheezing was telling me that something was stuck.

After a few minutes of him crying and coughing in the bathroom I noticed that the skin around his upper lip was blue. He laid his head down on my shoulder and fell asleep. Hmmm, not good. Time to go get hubby. As I leave the bathroom he picks his head up and starts coughing. That lasted a minute and it all stopped. Yeah, baby all better.

Not so fast optimistic mommy!

We get back to the table and it all starts again. This time there was a blue ring around his whole mouth. Geesh.. where is Clark Bartram when you need him?

Turned him over again. Nothing.

Ok, either I'm going to rush him to the hospital or I'm going to try to flush out the pipes. I know, I know, never give any liquids to a choking baby with reflux. But, I did it anyway.

A few sips of his bottle and he coughs up this huge collection of slimy bread balls! He pinked right back up and finished his bottle.

Whew! All is right with the world.

Nope. Daughter is still (a day later) hysterical and her OCD is back being out of control.


Lori said...

Phew! Glad he is okay!!

Parenting is not for the faint of heart, is it?

Chris and Vic said...


I have an idea. Explain to your daughter that when this happens, there is a technique (the back blows and chest thrusts that you learn in an infant CPR class) that can be used to help a baby who is choking. Then, teach your 8-yr-old how to do this on a doll. Tell her that is what you did when you went to the bathroom with her brother. Show her pictures of this technique in a book or on the web r/t CPR.

In the belief that knowledge dispells fear . . .

(I can picture her hysteria, however, since my son Vic is hysterical all morning---we don't know what is going on--too much of mom's super-strong coffee this a.m. or the low-pressure preceding a severe winter storm, or the fact that we didn't give him his aeresolized pulmicort till after lunch today. There was no reasonable approach that worked this a.m. for Vic---I am on the verge of going to the ER with him to medicate him with some kind of tranquilizer---and I have never felt this way or done this before today. So I can imagine that you will say that P's hysteria will be untouched by any rational approach . . .)
Worth a try?

The Preemie Experiment said...

Lori said, "Parenting is not for the faint of heart, is it?"

That's for sure! The day my daughter stuck her leg with a wooden cuticle stick because "her thoughts told her to" was the day I realizsed I could handle anything.

As long as the cosmic forces don't try to make me prove it!

The Preemie Experiment said...


Thanks for the great idea! As I was in the bathroom trying to figure out what was going on with dear son, all I could think about was dear daughter back at the table with Dad. I sure am glad that she had already started on her new anxiety med. I don't even want to think what she would have been like before Remeron.

Sorry to hear about Vic. Please email me when you get it figured out. I'll keep you both in my thoughts today.

There has been many times when P was in a fit of hysteria (way more than last night). It is scary. Unless a parent has gone through it, they couldn't even imagine it.

I often wonder, when P gets like that, if it is bipolar. We've been told that the mass hysteria is common with bipolar.

Thanks again for the idea.


Lori said...

PE- For me it was when I had to come home after going through labor for 3 days, delivering two tiny babies and holding them in my arms as they died, to two boys ages 5 and 8 and still somehow function as their mother. I am thankful that they appear to have come through that difficult time relatively unscathed!

I certainly hope the universe won't make you "prove" yourself anymore than you already have!! I'm sending positive thoughts to your daughter that she will find her way back to some relative calm again after her scare.

The Preemie Experiment said...


I want to take a minute out and say thank you. I remember when I first started my blog and read your first comment. I am glad you stayed with me. You are so important to others who have walked the same journey.

Recently I got an email from a mom (who knows me through a friend) who lost her baby at 26 weeks. The baby just wouldn't respond to recuscitation. In her email she mentioned you and how she hoped to be as strong as you one day.

I am truly thankful for you. You make a difference.

Lori said...

Wow, thanks. That's nice of you to say. I guess that does give me some hope that my perspective, and my story does have a place in the discussion of prematurity and all its many ramifications and outcomes.

I am sorry to hear of the mom who just lost her baby. My heart breaks every time I hear of another lost little one. Children that are lost at or shortly after birth are often invisible to the rest of the world, which can make it difficult for parents to appropriately grieve and mourn their very real loss. They get told in a thousand subtle and not so subtle ways that their loss is less than other losses, so grief gets relegated to a very private, sometimes hidden place in their hearts.

I'm not sure why we are so obsessed with trying measure and place the losses of life on some sort of hierarchy. It's not unlike when people tell you that you should just be grateful your daughter is alive, as though somehow that means you aren't allowed (and should be ashamed) to acknowledge and curse the disabilities and challenges your daughter faces on a daily basis. People are always ready to tell you how someone else's lot in life is worse than yours, so buck up! I can't tell you how many times someone has told me the story of another woman who lost a baby and will emphasize to me, "and her baby was *full term!*" Clearly letting me know that the loss of a full term baby is a much bigger loss than my loss of preemies. When I am feeling particularly courageous I sometimes say, "Well... I'm not sure I would grieve the loss of my 12 year old more than my 8 year old simply because he has lived longer."

Anyway... I thank you for your kind words and my heart goes out to the woman who emailed you. But, as I'm sure you and many other moms would say, I'm not really all that strong. One way or another, most of us find a way to survive the losses life throws our way.

The Preemie Experiment said...

Lori wrote: "I'm not sure why we are so obsessed with trying measure and place the losses of life on some sort of hierarchy."

There is definitely a hierachy within the preemie world. Many times I've heard mom's on the preemie groups say "I was talking to another preemie mom and hers was born at 32 weeks. Mine was born at 24 weeks. She has no idea what having a real preemie is like." Geesh!

When I gave birth to my son (at 35.4 weeks) a very good friend (who also has an early preemie and a later one) told me to not let other preemie moms make me feel like my son wasn't a preemie. It wasn't long before I pulled her message from my brain to help me cope when a parents emailed me, off list, to tell me that I had no right to come back to a preemie group because I didn't really have a preemie.

But, what I find completely sickening is how you mentioned that people feel the need to stress this heirarchy with loss! I am outraged at how someone could be so incensitive! I am so sorry Lori. And, your comeback is a good one.

Lori said...

Sadly, I'm not a bit surprised to hear that a sort of hierarchy exists among preemie parents (I should clarify *some* preemie parents). Unfortunately, when those measures come from people within the "community" that makes it even harder to swallow. Most of the time, the comments I have heard to imply our loss is less significant than that of an older baby have come from people who have no experience with the loss of an infant, and so it is relatively easy for me to dismiss their ignorance. That must have really stung for another preemie parent to treat you and the truth of your son's prematurity so harshly.

I should also say though that more often than not, when I encounter someone who has experienced a significant loss in their life, whatever it may be, they are almost always without exception the most understanding and supportive of my losses. I would like to think that I am the same way when I encounter people dealing with loss. Though I would never have asked for my losses, and would still change things if I could, a life touched by loss is not without its blessings. I have no doubt I am a far more compassionate person, and am much more focused on the truly important things in life, than I was before those two little angels came and went from my life.

And please know that I use the word "loss" in its broadest sense. I understand that parents of surviving preemies have experienced more than their fair share of loss too.

Helen Harrison said...

A friend of mine refers to
the preemie "lowerarchy"

Ryn Tales said...

Wow - scary. It's great that you followed your gut regarding flushing the pipes. That's gross that there is a preemie lowarchy. I did not experience that nor did I think that way. Sometimes there were term babies in the NICU with jaundice under the billi lights and the parents would be hysterical and freaked out. I knew then that it doesn't matter if your baby is on the edge of death or has some temporary issue. Any deviation from have baby, take baby home or have baby at home and baby is fine really sucks. 5 weeks early is a lot for the little ones and by no means a ticket to normalicy and great health.

My daughter has horrible reflux and had many choking episodes that were scary. I think you have it tougher than we do right now because she will only eat purees and is even refusing to do that and we have a g-tube. It's good to read your blog though because I still have hopes that she will eat and want to know what I am in for. Her getting bigger - gaining weight eventhough she is still a little peanut has really helped.

Glad he is ok and hope your daughter gets some relief - that can't be fun.


Chris and Vic said...

In the foster care system, and in the adoption system in my geographical area, prospective parents are asked what type of disability they think they could deal with---deafness, blindness, cognitive disability, CP, G-tube, etc. It makes you think about what are your limits and what do you think you could LEARN to cope with. Truth is, as time goes on, you LEARN to deal with all kinds of things you never thought you could. You look at other parents and kids with disabilities and you say "I could never do that." But it isn't true. We could all probably learn to do everything and anything. I have to admit that P, the 8-yr-old daughter of The Preemie Experiment blogger here, would distress me a lot more than other disabilties---her intermittent urges to harm herself and/or her family members takes my breath away. And as for kids in chairs, how could I ever afford those fancy vans with lifts---to accomodate the chair? I tend always to think that I have it easier than most everyone else. ]
My Vic, though cognitively disabled, is very charming, and always "up," eager, bouncy. He has his social anxiety and his mood swings, but I still think I have it easier than a lot of other preemie moms.
Chris and Vic

Clark Bartram said...

I'm also very glad that the episode resolved without the need for EMS. To give you some insight into how two pediatricians with a toddler approach the world, at dinner last night with an ENT friend I grilled him on how exactly I would pull off an emergency cricoidotomy at home should my daughter choke. For some reason lately I have been fixated on this occurring(the choking not cutting into her throat and shoving in a drinking straw). Now I am more paranoid after reading your post. Thanks. For some comic relief, this morning my daughter asked for some "Bluebaby pancakes" and I'm not making that up.

The Preemie Experiment said...

I've been around other peoples children when they've been choking and I have to say, when it is your OWN child, it is one of the worst moments a parent could experience. I always feel so helpless. My son started choking with feeds when he was only a month old. The pediatrician we had at the time looked at me like I was a neurotic mom. We changed docs. To see the look on the radiologists face, during the swallow study, when he saw my son reflux with every swallow was not a fun experience either.

This was supposed to be my easy baby! After all, he's a 35 weeker! Oh wait, that's right, late term preemies are showing worse reflux than ELBW preemies. (feeling snarky tonight)

Anonymous said...

Wow! I'm sorry you had to go through that! It is so scary when they choke.

My daughter (severe reflux and oral aversions) choked horribly on a stale gerber puff once. (Thank God for CPR/choking training in the NICU) It scared me so much that I didn't let her have solids for a few days!