Joseph has a cold. He's been poorly since last Thursday. I still have the "PPP" (premmie parent panic) every time he gets a respiratory infection, even if its just a cold.
I remember when Joseph first came home, I was very nervous, and didn't really know what to expect in our first year. The very kind neonatal outreach sister visited us every couple of days. On one visit she warned me that Joseph would be in and out of hospital all year with respiratory infections, and back on oxygen.
We had one close call at Christmas. On Christmas Day Joseph was dopey and not quite himself, but by Boxing Day was piled in the car to Accident and Emergency at a hospital near my in-laws English home in Great Yarmouth. I was terrified, his breathing was dreadful, he was fighting for each breath, and I was absolutely certain I'd be seeing the New Year in at a hospital far from home. As soon as we arrived our "passport" flashed on the screen and we were seen immediately. Joseph gets priority at our own hospital, and I was suprised to see that this followed us to Great Yarmouth.
A lovely nurse was taking Joseph's particulars and put the sats monitor on his foot, I was watching in earnest as the numbers started going up, I whispered "come on Joseph aim for 95", the nurse kinda looked at me as he said "um, how do you know what I am looking for". I grinned and he said "oh, he was prem, you've done the first part of the degree then!" with a cheeky grin.
As it turned out, it was just a cold, it sounded scary, but Joseph was fine. The doctor who saw us was very confident that Joseph did not require anything other than a Ventolin inhaler as needed, and plenty of cuddles, that I could handle!
And that has been our sole brush with readmissions, no one at our own hospital can quite believe our luck. I think the key is that Joseph was on CPAP for a long long time, longer than most other 27 weekers I know. Shall I explain?
When a premature baby is first born, their lungs are underdeveloped and they usually can't breathe on their own. The first step is mechanical ventilation, they are on a machine that does all the work for them. The next step is CPAP, continuous positive airway pressure. This machine helps by keeping the airway established with air, but the baby has to do some of the work themselves. Cycling CPAP is a term used when the baby is given periods of time off CPAP to get stronger, these times off are important for improving lung strength.
CPAP is also the machine used by people with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. Joseph was ventilated for only 15 hours, which is somewhat of an achievement given his size as well as gestation.
Joseph took a long time to finally kick the CPAP habit, and it was expected he would be discharged on home oxygen. I hadn't really thought too much about it, I knew lots of premature babies went home on oxygen, and then weaned off at home, I was so keen to get Joseph home where he belonged, I didn't worry too much about it.
I am still cautious about colds, at the first whiff of a cold I pull us out of circulation. Joseph has had about 5 colds since discharge, an ordinary baby gets 12 - 14 a year!
The only really bad thing about this current cold, is that Joseph has decided to share it. Ugh.