Archive for June, 2012

The Fears of Caring for a Premature Baby at Home.

Oh, how much harder it is to be the mother of a premature baby than one of normal term. 

I’m here again in England, to help my son and his girlfriend with their baby who came in nine weeks early at only a straight three pounds.  I’ve now got my head round the sterilising unit but, with a premature baby at home, we have  also had to get to grips with:-

  • Our baby is attached to an oxygen cylinder.  Although he was doing okay with his breathing when he was born, he would have got exhausted very quickly without that additional oxygen supply.  So, the fine plastic tube is attached to the oxygen cylinder at one end and the other end has two prongs which go up baby’s nose.  A regular check on the oxygen bottle can be done by detaching the two ends of the tube at a midway point and dipping the oxygen end into a glass of water, to see the ripples that indicate that oxygen is indeed coming out of the cylinder.
  • As a result of the need for oxygen and the fact that a little new baby can indeed become independent on that extra supply from the bottle, he may stop breathing out of a ‘no need’ feeling, so baby has a sleep apnoea cable coming from a pad taped to his tummy.  This machine can be set to say that baby hasn’t been breathing for ten or for twenty seconds but, because the machine has a lot of false alarms, ours was set to twenty seconds.  If it goes off and, so far, it has gone off six times in just over a week, we have to look at baby to see his colour, prod him if he looks too still and generally confirm that yes, it was a false alarm. 
  • But what is a false alarm?  Is it that baby stopped breathing, then the noise of the alarm kicked him into action, is it that the little pad has slipped on his tummy, or is it that the machine isn’t perfect?  When that alarm goes off, none of these three possibilities are comforting. 
  • Baby now weighs four pounds fifteen and an all-important ‘half’ ounce.  He now has a third machine which can be used for a spot check to see that oxygen is circulating around his body.  Attaching the little pad to his foot, a little red light comes on at his foot and the machine gives the readings for breathing and heart beat.  Good numbers are 1oo/160 but, when a baby is wriggling, these numbers fluctuate between 76/130 and 100/183.  Waiting for a steady number that you feel comfortable with seems a very long wait indeed. 

So, my beautiful grandson is home with a ‘first time’ mother and father looking after three life support machines (nothing to a midwife but extremely frightening to ‘green’ parents) and all of the responsibilities that come with a baby anyway.  Now it has hit home that this country does have a failing health system. Also, if I’m wrong in anything I have said about this situation, that simply supports the question of is it okay to let a premature baby and all of its attachments go home, doesn’t it?

If you ever come to know someone who fits into this same situation of looking after a premature baby at home, please, please, offer some help.  Do one night shift or day shift every so often, as such ‘premature’ parents are not going to have the luxury of reaching that five weeks old point and bragging that baby is already only waking up once during the night.  Our baby, with his nine weeks premature, may still be waking up two or three times during the night when he is nine weeks early + another five weeks.  Imagine fourteen weeks without proper sleep and, if you are self-employed like these two are, there is no twenty six weeks to get yourself into a routine. 

I’m still inEngland, happy to be able to help for a few weeks, yet with tears forming in my eyes as I type this. 

My night shift tonight.


Back to Baby Jack!


Tomorrow, I am going back to England, as my grandson Jack is coming out of hospital but with oxygen and a sleep apnoea support machine.  Knowing someone who knows someone who was in the same situation for four months before their baby was freed from these support systems, the next three or four months are going to be very difficult, as the apnoea machine is prone to giving out false alarms and sleep will not therefore be on the menu.  I am therefore going to England to add my waking time to their diaries and hopefully all of us will get some sleep in that way and, in our waking hours, be correctly alert to monitor our baby’s needs.

I will try to add to my important site, though when I was in England in April, I couldn’t get into my own site via the library access points.  This time, I am taking my laptop with me, to stay connected with my gorgeous husband and my computer needs.





Pine Cones for Firelighters

I know that many people now heat their homes with methods other than fire but many of still like to light the occasional barbecue.  Also, like here in Northern Spain,  a lot of people have cocina económicas, basically Aga stoves that burn wood, so they too need to be starting that fire by some means or other.  Firelighters are good but, while they are burning, you can smell those chemicals in the air and those present will be breathing these chemicals in.  Even if they’re not bad for you, who of us can say that they are good for your health?

Now, pine cones really are something else.  At the time of year that the pine cones are falling to the ground, collect a few of them, choosing those that are ‘open (like the photo below)’ rather than those that are still tightly closed, as the open ones light very easily and, if you build a wigwam of kindling around that cone before lighting it, you have an instant fire which you can then build up with firewood.  There are no chemicals involved this time and the aroma is natural, so it makes sense, doesn’t it?

Does Your Dog Talk?

I often wonder if people think I am crazy when I say that our dog talks.

Well he does but I don’t think our dog is the only one that does it.  I think it’s that, because we are now semi-retired and have more time to care about things, we have noticed that our fella Jack does tell us what he wants  and makes it quite clear, too.

He’s five now and it was about six months ago that we realised that, when he wants something, he makes a gentle grunt, rather like when we clear our throats by breathing in rather than clearing it by coughing.  Rather like a snort, if you know what I mean.  Go on, admit it, we all do it when we think no-one is listening or present company won’t think anything of it.  Jack used to talk by using his eyes or gently taking our hand to take us to where what he wanted could be realised and he still does use these methods but, if you have a dog, listen for the gentle snort.  It really is there.  I just wish I could get Jack’s ‘voice’ on video, to prove it to the world but he talks when I am cooking, when I have opened into some biscuits or when I have gone into the fridge for something, so I don’t have two hands free.

Please – listen to your dog – is he or she trying to talk to you?


Recipe 26 – Chicken and Potato Layer – with Gruyere Cheese!

Easy Recipes.

Also posted under Savoury.

Chicken and Potato Layer.

A good mix of meat, potato, onion and herbs!


For two people:-

Six potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/3 inch thick slices.

2 chicken breasts, already cooked and cut into small strips.

A small onion, cut into small pieces.

1 tbsp. of oil.

A little rosemary or thyme.

About a teacup of cream – single or double.

4 ozs. of grated Gruyere cheese.

HARD PART –  nothing hard about this one.

Set the oven to gas mark 4, or 200F / 150C.

How to make it:-

Boil the potato slices for about ten minutes, until they are cooked but don’t break easily.

Now fry the onion pieces very gently in the oil.  Now add the cream, the chosen herbs and the cooked chicken pieces and give a good stir, heating through for only a couple of minutes.

Grease a shallow casserole dish and cover the bottom with half the potato slices.  Now add all of the chicken mixture and then the rest of the potatoes.

Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the potatoes and place in the oven for about twenty minutes, until the cheese has melted and is golden brown in colour.

Mmmmm …. .

This dish is so gorgeous and, when I made it for friends at the weekend, I served it with some oven-cooked vegetables, though it could have been enjoyed just as much with a lettuce, prepared the Spanish way, with slithers of onion, and a little salt, vinegar and olive oil.

Unfortunately, we were busy talking and the food looked so good, that we simply tucked into it without me taking any photographs.  Be patient please – I’ll make it again soon!