Around 8:15 pm, we got the dreaded call from the NICU that we should come back to the hospital. That they needed to intubate him and put him on the ventilator. Luckily, our awesome nurses, Jess and Jenny, stayed past their shift and were there with Stephen. We met with the neonatologist when we got there and he explained everything to us that Stephen's breathing wasn't getting any better and he just wasn't able to get any of the nitric via the nasal cannula.
Basically what was happening was that the right side of Stephens heart, which pumps blood to the lungs where it picks up the oxygen, was working on over drive because the blood vessels that go from the heart to the lungs were constricted. And because the right side of the heart was working so hard, it was also becoming enlarged. So he was having to breath really fast shallow breaths to get any oxygen in his lungs. Unfortunately, if not caught soon enough and treated, PPHN can be fatal. But luckily, Stephen's nurses recognized the signs and insisted he receive that ECHO yesterday.
PPHN was actually a concern of the surgeon's prior to his surgery last week, but he only had a very mild case of it last week. Then it went away, and now it's back. But after today's follow-up ECHO, things are looking good and his stats and everything are fantastic. Plus you can tell that Stephen is really comfortable today and feeling better now that he isn't working so hard to breath. And surprisingly, the enlarged portion of his heart has already shrunken back to normal (we were able to get an update from the cardiologist today). Now we just hope that he takes well to being weened off the nitric oxide and the PPHN stays away for good!!!
Here's a picture of Stephen from yesterday with the nasal cannula and then today with the ventilator.