Being a prem mum means that you start off with different milestones that other mums. For me, March 17 was a milestone day as it was the day our daughter started breathing on her own. No CPAP, no oxygen. Just her own tiny lungs.
I remember the day so clearly. We had been talking about it for a week. The nurses disagreed with our doctor (something that I find incredibly frustrating) as they believed we should establish breastfeeding first. Isabella was at 35 weeks gestation and had already been on breathing support for 7 weeks. To me it was more important to get her breathing on her own. Bottle or breast – breathing was best.
At this stage Isabella was on low flow oxygen, and we had been gradually turning it down as the days went by. We planned to turn it off late one afternoon. I was clearly nervous about what would happen so one of the nurses in charge sat me down and gently reminded me that if it all went bad, they would simply put the prongs back in her nose and turn the oxygen back on. It seemed so simple but it didn’t ease the anxiety.
At the mid-afternoon shift change our new nurse came on and asked why we were waiting. There really was no reason, so she suggested doing it then and there – like ripping off a bandaid.
And it worked.
Isabella breathed on her own.
I wouldn’t let the nurses remove the oxygen machine and nose prongs for days afterwards, as if to ward off evil spirits. I slept with my phone even closer to me that night, fearing that we would get a call telling us that something had happened and she was back on the oxygen. But it didn’t happen.
To this day I still watch her breathe at night. I still worry when she coughs. But breathing on her own is a milestone that I am proud to say we have ticked off.