When we got to the NICU, Scarlett was hooked up to monitors immediately. We were scared but just wanted to find out what was wrong with her.
I had become very familiar with the most common monitor that watches heart rate and oxygen saturation. So, I knew immediately that something wasn’t right. Her heart rate kept dropping too low or going too high. Her oxygen rate kept dropping and the monitor kept dinging. The nurse was doing a wonderful job of reassuring us that Scarlett was fine but I could see the concern in her eyes. Eventually, she says they think that Scarlett has a heart murmur and a cardiologist will be coming to see her.
Here I was roughly 30 hours post partum and my anxiety was through the roof. Finally, the cardiologist arrived. He did an ultrasound and determined that she did in fact have a heart murmur. He reassured us that he felt this was a common type of murmur that happens in preemies. At this point, Jim and I were exhausted. Scarlett nurse came over and told us that we were waiting for a neonatologist. Here we were sitting watching our baby going in and out of distress. Jim became my rock and made me go back to my room. I needed rest but that did not happen. We went back to our room, where I proceeded to sob for the next two hours. I knew that there was something seriously wrong with my baby.
“Do you want to tell them?” One nurse asked the other and then followed up with “I don’t want to. Let’s just let the doctor do it.”
The neonatologist was supposed to arrive in an hour. Two passed before we realized so, we headed back up to the NICU. When we got there, the first thing the nurse asked was if the doctor had spoken to us. We said no and they concluded that we must have been coming up the elevator while she was going down. Then I saw Scarlett… and my heart dropped. My baby was on oxygen. Then I heard a whisper… “Do you want to tell them?” One nurse asked the other and then followed up with “I don’t want to. Let’s just let the doctor do it.”
All I could think was the absolute worst. My baby is dying and they don’t want to tell me. Finally, the neonatologist found us. She explained that Scarlett’s body was not recognizing it was out of the womb. This sometimes happens with premature babies. She would need to continue to be monitored and on oxygen until her little body could recognize that it needed to support itself. She was experiencing pulmonary hypertension (very slow or rapid heart rate and decreased oxygen saturation) and things could most likely get worse before they get better. She would go into an episode and you would have to stimulate her gently by touch to, hopefully, get her to come out of it.
Now all we could do was watch, wait and pray.