Friday, February 3, 2012

Flashback Friday-High Frequency Oscillation

I remember this as one of many bad days during our NICU stay.

The babies were almost 4 weeks old when both boys were not responding to high settings on a traditional ventilator. They had to be switched to high frequency oscillation vent.   Carlitos was first.  I was warned about how big and loud the equipment was.  
I was explained that he would look like he was vibrating.  I was told he could not be held while he was on it.  You could say that I was somewhat prepared; but, I think the switch was made sometime between my 5am call and my 9:30am arrival.  I walked in and my heart dropped. I saw it as a huge step backwards.  

Nurse Jackie explained it as a good thing, it would give him a break and cause less lung damage.  The high frequency ventilator would do all the work for him.  It can give small tidal volumes and extremely rapid ventilator rates.  

A couple of days later, Marcos made the switch.  He had caught pneumonia and was having lots of desats.  I remember they had mentioned it as a possibility but all of a sudden the switch was made.  I was holding Sofia when Marcos's alarms kept beeping.  When you are doing kangaroo care and it takes 2 or 3 nurses plus RT to hand you your baby, it's not like you can just put her back. So I quietly watched Marco's nurse advocate for him.  I sensed a bit of panic in her voice and even a bit of anger.  She wasn't going to wait any longer.  The doctor was called to get the okay and RT quickly moved.  Since this type of ventilator requires more space, Marcos had to be moved to a different side of the room.  My trio was no longer next to each other.

It happened so fast and with such urgency that Sofia's nurse reminded everyone that I was in the room.  I felt so helpless.  One of the nurses later apologized, not really sure for what.  An apology was not necessary at all.  They knew what was best and I was so thankful they cared for Marcos so well.  I can't really paint the picture of how things work in the NICU, how fast things happen.  But I guess you could say that there are some things the staff prefers a mother does not hear or witness. 

We were lucky.  We were blessed.  
In less than a week, the boys turned around and were back on traditional vents.  
This picture brings up so many feelings.
In our 102 NICU stay, I only saw one more baby on this type of vent.
A sweet baby girl who did not make it.

Kind of a downer post but it helps to deal with all these emotions.

I think I'll go kiss and cuddle my babies.


  1. I think it's good to write it all down so you remember it.

    My cousin was on one of those for like 70 days (she had cancer and responded poorly to one of the treatments), but because of it, she had another 4 good years.

  2. Our twins were on the oscillating vents for 5 weeks before being moved to traditional vents. That picture brings back memories for me too. We must have been at a larger NICU or sicker NICU because there were always about 5 babies (2 being mine) on those vents. I clearly remember the NICU preparing for the arrival of another set of 24 week twins when mine were about 3 months old (on nasal cannula), setting up the ventilators and preparing the isolettes frantically. It was so surreal watching them prepare for these new tiny babies knowing that was what it must have looked like when I was in labor. Keep writing about it and keep kissing those babies!

    1. Michelle, I think our NICU was 22 beds in San Francisco and they were almost always full and I never saw smaller babies than ours, sofia being the smallest at 1.2 lbs. I felt the same thing you are describing every time an emergency csection was announced and I saw them get things ready. so surreal.

  3. Isn't it amazing how well you still remember every moment of the NICU time. My girls are two & half now and I still remember it like it was yesterday. When they are in full swing terrible two mode I try to remember those days & they rough start they had and be grateful for how far they have come!