Friday, October 21, 2011

a living nightmare on Monday

Gabriella was admitted to Children's Memorial on Monday.  Everything was set for a very routine, uneventful 24 hour stay to have her monitored as she started Propranolol to treat her hemangioma.  The cardiologist assured me that they are just being super conservative with the monitoring, EKG, echo, and holter monitor preliminary stuff that was done.  She would get 2 half doses (2 pm, 8pm) and 2 full doses (6 am, noon).  After the noon dose she'd be watched for two hours and then we'd be discharged. 

My dad took off of work on Monday and Tuesday to stay with Benjamin.  Jamie took off Monday to get us downtown, but would go to work on Tuesday.  As an electrician, if you don't work, you don't get paid- there's no sick time or vacation days.  He stayed with us until night-time, gave us kisses good bye, and left.

I put my jammies on and was getting ready to call it a night.  I knew it was going to be a long night because the nurses were coming in every four hours for vitals.  Gabriella was a bit fussy and restless.  As she turned her head, I got a look at the hemangioma on the back of her head and there was already a difference in it after just two small doses!  It was 11 pm.  I texted Jamie, my parents, Nick, and Brooke to let them know.  I hit send and put my phone down because Gabriella was starting to fuss.  I was trying to avoid letting her scream because we had a roommate that I didn't want to wake up.

I put the burp cloth on my left shoulder and picked her up.  She screamed and went stiff, so I knew her acid reflux was causing some pain so I started patting her back.  She arched back in my arms and I saw her face- her eyes were huge, unblinking, and glazed over.  I started hitting her pretty hard and just kept saying "come on Gabriella.".  She was turning red.  I flipped her face down and started doing back blows between her shoulder blades a few times.  I flipped her back up and she was dark red going on purple, eyes the same, still stiff.  I was loudly telling her to breathe- I wanted our roommate or someone to hear what was going on.  I flipped her facedown and frantically grabbed the remote to call the nurse. 

When I heard "Can I help you?" I replied with "my baby is refluxing and isn't breathing".  4 nurses came in seconds later.  I asked if I should lay her down or hold her.  They told me to hold her and once they saw her one called for deep suction and told another to get a bag to start bagging her with oxygen.  Suction did not work.  Gabriella was purple and her mouth was turning blue.  They told me to put her down, and a nurse called Code.  I got out of the way as they began CPR on my baby.  A nurse stayed with me and asked if I wanted to sit down in the room or leave.  I moved toward the chair and said outloud "Jesus Christ, please save my baby."  I looked at her little body laying there on the bed, purple and unresponsive- her heart rate was 58 the last time I saw the monitor.  I looked at the nurse next to me and said "please save my baby."  She said "we'll do everything we can to save her." Not- she'll be fine.  Not- don't be crazy.  We'll do everything we can to save her.  At that moment it was crystal clear to me that I might lose my daughter.  In about five seconds I thought, how can I tell everyone that Gabriella is gone, all I'll have of her are pictures, she was baptized just the day before, crazy stuff like this happens to people all of the time- a healthy baby in for monitoring and her world comes crashing down.

The Code team came rushing in.  There had to be at least 15 more people in the hall, entryway, and bedside.  I couldn't breathe.  My mouth went dry.  My heart pounded.  I shook.  I couldn't even pray.  I told myself to start praying but I couldn't.  A very nice older nurse that was part of the Code team stood by me with her hand on my back.  After what seemed like an eternity but was really just a few minutes I heard someone say her heartrate was coming up.  Her color was coming back.  I heard Gabriella throw up and then start coughing.  The nurse next to me repeated all of this to me several times, saying she's ok- her heartrate is coming up.  Gabriella started crying and crying and I thought to myself that was the most beautiful sound ever. 

I told the nurse next to me that I needed my husband, Jamie, to come up.  She took down the phone number to call him.  He didn't answer.  I gave her his cell number.  He didn't answer.  I had her call my parents, my mom answered, drove to our house, and stayed with Benjamin.  I was somewhat listening to all of the talk in the room around me.  Several times I heard that "she went brady", meaning bradycardia.  Her heartrate dropped down to 40.  It sent even more shivvers through me to hear about "when she was resuscitated" and "during resuscitation."  We were moved to pediatric intensive care.  Jamie arrived a little after midnight. 

The whole episode was a result of her reflux.  The doctors proceeded very cautiously regarding the Propranolol.  We stopped altogether Tuesday. Wednesday she got half of the inital amount from Monday for two doses and then an increase at night.  Thursday was the same as the night before ad then the full dose two times before we could go home.  Propranolol would not have caused such an acute episode that resolved so quickly.  If it was going to effect her heart (as it is a heart medicine), it would have dropped it slowly over a few hours and it would have taken just as long to come back up as the medicine left her body. 

By the grace of God we were where we were on Monday night.  The outcome may have been very different if we had been at home.  But all that matters at this point is that she's ok and she's home.


  1. Oh my Amanda - I can't imagine how very scary that must have been for you to witness that. So very thankful Gabriella is ok & doing well. My heart was racing reading your story...

  2. My God! I just stumbled upon your blog and got to this post...I cried, imagining everything around you just swirling with chaos and fear. I found myself wanting to call your husband for you, as if I were a bystander in this nightmare, wanting to surround you with comfort!

    I am soo glad & thankful she is ok.

    By the way, even when our words and thoughts just come out as mere mumbles, or not even outloud, God hears our every sigh and reads our hearts like a book. He knows our every desire and reads our hearts like a prayer. You know sometimes when you pray and you find yourself having daydreamed onto several other thoughts, seemingly leaving your initial prayer form behind??? Yea, that's prayer! Isn't that fantastic?! That's a conversation with God. :)