Saturday, March 15, 2014

The NICU Devil

Dear Ellie,

I thought it was about time to mention The Monitor.  In the NICU, its the only thing we look at as often as we look at you.  It's a sinister, devilish thing that haunts our dreams.  It hovers over your isolette like the grim reaper... okay, exaggeration.  

Basically, The Monitor charts your breath rate, heart rate, and most importantly, how much oxygen is in your blood (oxygen saturation).  All in all, it's often a good indicator of whether you're having a "good day" or a bad day.  If that number is consistently high, they get to bump your O2 requirements down.  That's good.  But if it is consistently low, your oxygen requirements get bumped up.  That's bad.  An alarm goes go off every time your saturation is either too high or too low.  Before you were extubated, it would happen maybe every 5 minutes or so and every time we heard it, our hearts would clench up.  Would you be high or low?  Improving or deteriorating?  Then we would glance up and see for ourselves.  Typically, if the monitor showed that your blood oxygen was too low, you'd compensate by breathing a bit more until it came up.  Sometimes, though, it wouldn't and the nurses would have to intervene.     

So as you can imagine, we spend a lot of time staring at The Monitor.  The nurses get irritated when we do this.  "Don't look at the monitor, look at the baby!" they say, to which I reply back, pretending not to be irritated: "Uhhh, can't we look at them both?"  One day, you'll go home (probably on oxygen) and we won't have a monitor to stare at anymore.  We'll only be able to stare at you and examine your color to determine whether you are suffocating or not.  The monitor makes this assessment quite easy.  Devilishly easy.  There's a perverse, addictive element to staring at that monitor.  Over the past day, that monitor has only been our friend.  Every time the alarm sounds we look up and see your blood oxygen at 100 percent.

It's hard to ignore the monitor when it has bad news, but doubly so when it has good news.          


  1. SO SO SO HAPPY to hear good news for Ellie. Hoping and praying that her new trend continues!!!

  2. Dear Ellie,

    I visited you yesterday and held your hand for the first time. I can imagine the many times we will hold hands in the future.

    Grandma Smith