The baby looked up at me from the crib. His breathing was still labored. I was watching him closely. There was a good chance he might need to be intubated.
I looked at every inch of him. His pulses were good, his limbs were warm, his temperature was normal, his air entry good, and his oxygen saturation was fine.
Then he coughed once, his little body arching.
Before he could take a full breath in to recover, he coughed again, harder. This time no air moved back in at all.
I grabbed the oxygen mask and bag and held it to his face
“Come on, little man,” I encouraged him softly, “take a breath for me.”
I eyed the monitor. His oxygen levels were dropping. His face was getting red. My heart was pounding as I waited for what seemed like forever for him to recover the way he had been all morning.
“Come on baby. You can do this.”
His face began to turn grey. I sealed the mask around his mouth and nose, holding it in place with my left hand. I attempted to force oxygen into his lungs. At first no air moved. His lungs were clamped down like steel. I hit the code bell on the wall beside me with a clenched fist and resumed bagging. Just then his tiny body went limp.
He looked dead for a moment. His eyes closed, and he was cold and blue.
My stomach was in my throat. I could hear people running down the hall toward me. Someone came in with the crash cart. His heart rate began to fall. I could hear a voice screaming in my head.
Just then I felt some give. I got a little air in and in a split second, pink washed back to the surface of his skin. His eyes opened instantly. His oxygen levels and heart rate came back to normal.
Colleagues moved around the room getting things settled. The respiratory therapist listened to his chest. Once everything was calm and the baby was comfortable, I left a colleague in the room to watch the baby and I went to the washroom. My body was shaking so badly. I sat down on the toilet and I took my own deep breaths.
The look and feel of the baby when he stopped breathing was terrifying. For a moment I thought he had died in my hands. I am convinced that I know how that would feel. To hold a dying baby. Pushing the air back in was also something I will never forget. The look of the pink surging back in and the warmth it brought with it - I will never lose that.
It is a simple case of mechanics. As easily as it comes back is as easy as it goes.