15 MINUTES…by Charleene Shingler (Olivia’s Mom)

A must read Excerpt from Charleene’s book

15 minutes seems pretty short under normal circumstances, but when you have a preemie in the NICU, 15 minutes can feel like a lifetime. There I sit, holding my daughter while her respirations are in the high 100s, thinking, Lord please slow her breathing down. The NICU doctor comes to me and says, “Charleene, as soon as respiratory brings in the vent we will have to move fast.” Her doctor asks to take her but I refuse- I tell him I will hold her until they are ready. I look down at my baby and think, how could this be, it’s her due date, they said she would be home by her due date. She was already born at 27wks and weighing only 1 pound 5 ounces in October and here it is January. Everything is supposed to be good. It was our turn to go home.

I glance back at the monitor and see that my child is sating at 85 on 100% oxygen.   Now I know that’s not good, and I look at the heart rate – 175 beats per minute. I see the nurses running with IV pumps – they bring fluids and meds to her bedside. Then they remove her crib and replace it with the warmer bed. I haven’t seen her in that bed since she was born. I glance back down at my baby whose nose is flaring and whose head is bobbing. I look back at the bed and remember seeing my baby for the first time in that bed, and how she was wrapped in plastic wrap to keep her 12 inch body warm. I look back at my daughter’s bed side and see two of her primary nurses, one from the day shift and the other who just came on for the night shift. My daughter’s doctor, who I call her miracle doctor says, “Charleene we are just about ready.” She sits back down with her eyes on my daughter’s monitor and I look back at my precious baby and think, she got you off the vent the first time, she will get you off this time, even though we are faced with two bigger hurdles. My daughter is now in heart failure and the pressure in her lungs is severely high. I remain optimistic.

I see my daughters resident doctor walk in. She comes to me and asks me if I’m ok, I look at her and at that moment I feel it. I feel my baby who was once breathing at 115 breaths just a second ago – I feel her body stiffen.  I look at her and then at the monitor and watch her heart rate go from the high 100s to the low 90s..80s…70s… 50s.  I hear the alarms and her miracle doctor snatches her from my arms. I look at the clock and realized its change of shift time; no parents are in here.  I stand up frozen and look down to the front of the pod and see the nurse practitioners running towards us. I look back at the clock and watch the second hand go around. Tic tic tic…one minute, then I start to realize what is going on. I look to my right and see my once brown baby, gray, and I see all of these medical professionals at her bedside. I see them turn her so that her head is toward the doctor’s stomach and I hear them say she is having a bronchospasm and we can’t intubate. Start CPR.

I look at the clock- just 2minutes have passed. I look at her pumping on my daughters chest and look at the monitor and realize every pump they do on my baby’s 4pound baby is showing up on the monitor, I stand quite cause I know if I freak out they will remove me from the room. I see them passing EPI needles and giving it to my baby and them trying again to intubate her with no success. I look at the clock -3 minutes. I hear, “Come on Olivia”, and then I hear “You’re getting tired doctor let me take over”. I see one of her nurse practitioners start CPR and I look at her doctor who never takes her eyes off my baby and I think, oh my goodness my baby is dying. I look at the resident and see she has a tear in her eye and she then reaches for my hand and holds it. I then see them switch off again and the next nurse practitioner starts CPR. I look at the clock-6minutes. I see more needles coming of EPI and I watch as her primary nurses stand at her bedside as well. I turn and see the once empty pod filled with nurses. One asked me if I was ok. I still haven’t spoken or moved, I am still frozen. I remember thinking, why is happening to me, what did I do that was so wrong that God is trying to take my baby from me, and the first tear drops. I think how I lost her twin at 9weeks and how I was in the hospital for 6weeks just to keep her in me, how I went through an emergency C-section where I had to be put to sleep. How she was born in a 24 weeker body when she should had been at least 2pounds. That’s when the next tear drops. I look at the clock-10 minutes, and they are still doing CPR on my baby. I then start to feel hot and like I’m going to pass out. I reach for the chair and her resident helps me to sit down.

I look at the clock and 11 minutes have passed; I close my eyes and pray that God sends my grandma down to be with me in this moment because I don’t know what to do. Do I tell them to stop CPR or let them keep going? I then begin to bargain with God, I pray that he takes me and spares my baby. She hasn’t had a chance to live life. I hear the next person say, “Ok let me start CPR”.  Then doc says, ”How long has she been down?”  I look up at the nurse who has been writing this all down and she says 13 minutes. I then see the doctor say, “Move let me try”, and she resumes CPR and she starts saying, “Olivia sweetie come on, come on Olivia”. I then look up and see that it has been 15 minutes. Then I hear a whimper and the doctor asks for the ET tube; I look up and see she’s no longer doing CPR and I look at the monitor and see her heart beating on its own. I feel her resident rubbing my hand with both of her hands and look at her and see she had tears in her eyes. I see respiratory attaching the ventilator tube to my baby’s breathing tube. And see her respirations at 40 sating at 94 and heart rate 102 and realize that my baby was back. I look over at her and she’s back brown. I see her arms flying around and I exhale and tears start flowing like a river, the monitors are going off because she’s fighting against the machine. The doctor comes to me and says, “Scary moment I know”. I say it was the longest 15 minutes in my life. She hugs me and I exhale and look at the clock and think, thank you God. Tic…tic…tic…toc, 16 minutes and the next chapter in her life begins.

5 thoughts on “15 MINUTES…by Charleene Shingler (Olivia’s Mom)

Add yours

  1. I knew…but never in so much detail….felt like my heart stop reading this…but then I think of Livvie and how far she has come. God is sooo good! Love you Charly! God got you!!! Larry, Livvie, and Cam!! Love you!

    1. Yes, it was an emotional day she coded 2more times that day, and they ended on placing her in a medically induced coma which is what I believed saved her life by giving her body the time it need to heal and grow. Crazy she will be 9 years this October, and even though I remember that day as if it happened yesterday, however to the outside world, she’s just a typical 8year old girl. No one knows she came home after spending a year in the nicu, on a vent with a trach in her throat , and given one year to live. They don’t see the scars from the central lines and picc lines. They see what god wants them to see, a little girl who loves to play her ipad and dsi, and swim. They see Olivia…. I am so thankful to those people that day…

  2. This post was written the day after I gave birth to my 2.13 & 3.14 pound preemie twin boys. My small baby was just readmitted to the picu due to breathing issues and is currently intubated and major reflux issues. God is Good and I know he is in great hands ❤ AMAZING!

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