If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know we had a really scary experience in February. Our sweet Vivienne was admitted into the hospital for five days with RSV and Coronavirus and it was truly one of the most terrifying weeks of my life. The series of events that led up to her admittance could have very well gone a different direction had it not been for one: the Owlet monitor.
While I was pregnant with Vivie, I attended a blogger event and was gifted an Owlet. I was very interested in it, as Ruby, my oldest daughter, had what’s called a “blue spell” when she was a day old in the hospital. She stopped breathing while I was nursing her, went limp, and was rushed to the NICU where she spent a week. She self startled, thankfully, and never did it again, but we were sent home from the hospital with a bulky, sensitive monitor built like a sumo belt, attached to a backpack, that we had to take everywhere. She would wriggle out of it in the middle of the night, and it would sound like a three alarm fire, scaring us (first time parents) to death, thinking our daughter had stopped breathing again. At three months we took her off of it, but I was completely traumatized and slept with one eye open for the first year of her life. Fast forward to Vivie, my third daughter, and let’s just say I’m more paranoid than most parents about my baby while she sleeps.
With that backstory in mind, let’s jump back to Vivie. Since Vivie came home from the hospital, she has worn the Owlet monitor about 4-5 nights a week, and we always kept it on her when she was sick. Jumping ahead again to Vivie three months old in February, and her two big sisters were getting over colds. Ruby (4 years) was sick for about two days. Nasty cough, but nothing serious. No high fever. Anna (almost 2 at the time) was hit harder. Her cough was terrible, double ear infections, but again no high fever, and our pediatrician wasn’t overly concerned about her ability to kick it. Vivie had a very mild cough/congestion at this point, no fever, and no other symptoms. There was no way of knowing what was ahead. This was her third time being sick—a winter baby with two older siblings.
We went home from the doctor’s office and prepared for her illness to get worse. That night was rough, but not the sickest she had ever been by a long shot. The next day she continued to show more symptoms and that night, I had a nose suction thingy (very technical term) ready to go, the humidifier fired up, and was prepared. She settled down for the night and we all went to sleep. Around 10 pm, the Owlet monitor started sounding, indicating her oxygen levels were dropping below the preset level. We quickly picked her up, startled her, and her oxygen levels went back into a normal range. “Huh,” we said. “That was strange.” She wasn’t struggling to breathe, she was congested, but again, not too severely. We wrote it off as a fluke– it had never happened before– and all went back to sleep. Around 2 am, the alarm sounded again. I grabbed her, woke her up again and the same thing happened. Her levels bumped back up to normal range. At this point I started to get worried and called the on-call pediatrician who said first thing in the morning I should go to the emergency room at Primary Children’s Hospital. She said if the alarm sounded again I shouldn’t wait and should take her right in. We made it until about 7 am and I loaded her up and headed to the hospital in the middle of a terrible snowstorm.
Once in the ER, she was awake and alert. They checked her levels and while they were a little bit low, they weren’t too concerning. They diagnosed her with RSV. The ER doctor gave us a prescription for the suction lab and sent us home.
During her nap, the alarm sounded again. I started to get worried. I called the ER, they told me to come back. So, I loaded up again and headed up there. Once there, we went through the same drill. They suctioned her out, checked her levels, and sent us home. I decided to take her up to the suction clinic after dinner to get her nice and cleared out before the night, thinking that would set us up for a less dramatic evening. I was wrong.
She went to sleep for the night and the alarm started sounding every 15-30 minutes. I would grab her, pick her up and startle her, her levels would go back up, and she would go back to sleep. The moment she started to dip into a deep slumber, her levels would drop. It was terrifying. In total I had four visits to the ER that day/night and the next morning called my pediatrician who told me to come in immediately. While the ER staff was thorough, when they were monitoring Vivie, her levels were ok. It was when she was asleep that they kept dropping. I was starting to get the “lady, you crazy” look at the ER so I called my pediatrician to ask her advice. She told me to come in immediately.
Once at my pediatrician’s office, I explained what had happened and exactly how it had played out and my doctor said something that hit me hard. She said “RSV is so scary. I just don’t trust this illness. Jen, this is how babies can die.” She called up to Primary’s and spoke with the supervising doctor in the ER and told them she was sending me back up, then she instructed me to advocate for Vivie to be admitted.
At the ER, they examined her and while she had declined a bit from the last time they saw her the night before, they didn’t know quite what to do. She certainly wasn’t the sickest baby in the emergency room. After talking it through with the nurse and resident doctor, the ER doctor turned to me and said “you’ve been here five times in 24 hours. What do you think we should do?” I said I was terrified to take her home again, only to have her Owlet monitor sound again. What if I couldn’t startle her? What if I couldn’t revive her??? They decided to admit her.
When we first checked in, the doctor in the Rapid Treatment Unit was already talking about sending us home as early as that night with oxygen. But bless our dear nurse’s heart, she knew the worst was yet to come and said no way should Vivie be going home that early. I could kiss her for standing her ground! And sure enough, that night Vivie started to decline and went downhill fast. They kept increasing her oxygen and her levels kept dropping. The next day they made the call to switch Vivie to high flow oxygen and move her to the Infant Care Unit. The next step up would have been ICU.
After testing her, they determined she had two viruses: RSV and Coronavirus. The combination made it very difficult to predict when her illness had peaked. They think she contracted RSV first and was starting to improve a bit when the Coronavirus really started to hit her. I shudder to think what would have happened if we hadn’t been in the hospital, under constant supervision and care of world class doctors and nurses. I can’t thank every single nurse, tech, doctor, really everyone at Primary Children’s Hospital enough for caring for our sweet girl (and us) during that hellish week. We are so very lucky to have such an outstanding hospital in our backyard.
When Vivie had finally turned the corner (after five days at PCMC), we were sent home on oxygen for the next week and a half.
I’ve replayed the what ifs and the tender mercies a million times and they all started with the Owlet. Had it not notified us to Vivie’s dropping oxygen levels, this story could have a very different ending. I’m so, so very grateful for it. It gave us the right information, at the right time, so we could have the right conversations. And I truly believe every new mother should have one!
Since I was gifted the first Owlet while I was still pregnant, they’ve come out with a new and better-than-ever version. Among the new features is a new fabric sock design, which is AWESOME. It’s called the Owlet Smart Sock 2. Also, there is increased bluetooth range (you can also check the levels anytime on the app on your phone. It gives me such peace of mind!). You have to check out the new product, so to get the full scoop go here.
And here we go, folks. Owlet is giving away a new Owlet Smart Sock 2 to one lucky withHEART reader! Here’s how you enter:
follow @jenniferstagg on instagram
leave a comment here telling me why you want one!
*As a reminder, the Owlet Smart Sock is not a medical device and isn’t intended to be used to diagnose or treat. It’s meant to give peace of mind—and that’s exactly what it did for us.
*this post and giveaway are sponsored by Owlet, though my experience using their product was not, and I received the product without obligation.