Adoption / Dear Baby / The Baby

How to Have a Baby on Oxygen

I went to a baby shower this weekend and I took the baby with me. For the record, when I have to go out with the baby, I usually carry him because it’s less annoying that getting the stroller out of the car. That means I carry the baby on the front and the portable oxygen tank in a backpack. I look like robo-mom.


The entire get-up only weighs about 82 pounds so I can carry him for approximately 42 minutes before I collapse in on myself like a dying star.

Anyway, one of the women at the shower asked me if we ever get tangled up in the oxygen cords.

The answer, of course, is HELL YES.

How many times have we tripped, stepped on, gotten wrapped up like a cartoon character wrapping a present, slammed the car door on the silly oxygen cord? If I had a dollar for every time we did that, I would have alot of dollars.

Like alot.

When we brought baby home, I remember feeling utterly, completely overwhelmed when the home health guy LITERALLY dropped off a wagonfull of stuff in the NICU. While he was mumbling through training us on how to use all of this, I’m pretty sure I stared over his head at ALEX with my eyes as big as saucers. I surprised I didn’t keel over right there (of course, the handy part of tat would have been that I would have gone into cardiac arrest mere inches from an oxygen machine).

Now that we have been home for several months,  it is not as hard as we thought it would be. Annoying? Yes. Impossible? Absolutely not.

Here is a picture of what it’s like to have a bebe on oxygen. These are all the things that it requires.


Let me explain. We’ll go clockwise, starting with the giant blue box.

  • The giant blue box is the oxygen concentrator. This is the home oxygen machine that sucks oxygen out of the air, does some magic, and sends it careening down a tube into our sweet boy’s nostrils. We used to have a 10-foot oxygen cord that would go from box to baby and so when we wanted to have the baby out in the living room, it would require at least two people- one to hold the baby, the other to scootch awkwardly the box down the hallway, trying not to roll the box over the cords itself. It was like an awkward, pathetic parade. We have since wised-up and we now have a super long cord that runs from the box in our kitchen to “the purse” (see below) so we can carry baby around fairly easily. This does mean, however that there is a ridiculously long, almost invisible, oxygen cord running the length of our house, welcoming anyone to trip on it and faceplant at any time. The concentrator is quite loud but it provides excellent white noise. I imagine that it will be very weird when we don’t have it around anymore.
  • That black monstrosity is the portable oxygen tank. It is very heavy and doesn’t quite fit inside the backpack they gave us, so, until we got smart with zip-ties, the oxygen tank would randomly escape from the zippers and fall clanging to the floor, scaring the bejesus out of anyone in a four square mile area. The zip ties have really helped with this. I can now wield it like a pro.
  • The little evil box with the numbers will haunt me in my nightmares. That, dear ones, is the pulse-ox monitor. It has a sensor that wraps around the baby’s foot and then it can read the percentage of oxygen in his blood (top number) and his heart rate. The doctors set the limits so the machine beeps LOUDLY when it falls below those limits. Sounds important right? Well, it is, it is. Except that it tends to beep loudly whenever the baby moves his foot or leg or body or finger or (sometimes, I feel like) when he breathes. At the beginning of having the baby home, the monitor had so many false alarms that we were banging our head on the walls. It’s is SO LOUD so everytime it goes off, it’s like Richard Simmons has appeared beside you and is screaming, “YOUR BABY IS DYING! YOUR BABY IS DYING!” and then you look over and he’s sucking on his thumb innocently and very much alive. We only use it at night now and Alex has mastered the art of putting the sensor on so we have very few false alarms. Still, I long for the day when I won’t be awoken because the baby has decided to do some midnight stretches.
  • Of course, you’ll need the baby. He wears the little oxygen tubes that stick right in his nose and get filled with boogers sometimes. Of course, he loves to tug them out, which is fun.
  • The little box directly above the baby is what we call the purse. I’m not quite sure what it’s actually called, but it converts the air coming out of the big blue concentrator to a lower flow of oxygen. While the cord from the concentrator is quite long, the cord between the purse and the baby is about five feet. This means that we consistently pick up the baby to take him to another room and drag the purse across the floor until we remember that you must carry purse and baby. I cannot tell you how many times the purse has fallen on the ground. Quite frankly, it is a miracle that it is still intact. I’m going to contact the manufacturer and find out what it’s made out of. Kryptonite, probably.

Like I said, it’s been totally manageable. It’s annoying, yes, but not impossible. I do find it interesting that so few people talk to us when we’re out and about. I think that people are generally uncomfortable asking. I’ve gotten a few, “What’s wrong with the baby?” questions and several people have asked if he’ll be on it for life. The hope, of course, is that he’ll be off by the summer but we’ll see!

Until then, I’ll continue rocking the oxygen like a boss and making it look easy, except when I tangle myself in the cord and fall over backwards in the parking lot….

2 thoughts on “How to Have a Baby on Oxygen

  1. Not sure if your baby is still on oxygen, but I have found it works much better to connect the concentrator to the pediatric flowmeter (the purse) with a small tube, 5 or 10 feet, and then have longer tubing between the flowmeter and the baby’s cannula. Hope this can help you! I was looking for pictures of babywearing a baby and oxygen tank, so thank you!!

    • Thanks, Megan! We were so overwhelmed that we were not ceeative at first. He is finally getting off of it now so hopefully we wont have to do it too much longer! Good luck with your little one.

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