Saturday, December 24, 2011

Growth Check Up Update

We ended up being discharged from the hospital at about 6:30 last night after my second round of steroids for Katherine's lungs and also a Pneumonia immunization to help prevent me from getting sick since I have a history of asthma and have been getting more and more short of breath as Katherine gets bigger (grow, baby, grow!) Katherine's heartbeat continued to look good on the moniter all night and all day (she was on 24 hour continuous.) The membrane does not seem to be bothering her at all. They also had a second moniter on me to check for contractions. Apparently, I have been having mild Braxton Hicks contractions without realizing it, which kind of scared me at first until they explained that they are perfectly normal at this stage in pregnancy and are just helping my body practice for when it is really time. The good thing is that, since I was hooked up to the moniter and was able to see when I was having one, I am better able to distinguish a Braxton Hicks contraction from fetal movement (especially since the ones I am having don't hurt at all yet and this is my first pregnancy so I didn't really know what they would feel like). They gave me some tips on how to cut down on them - drink lots of water, use the restroom frequently, and move around/change position if I feel one. Overall, I feel pretty good about the hospital visit. We were able to double check and make sure Katherine is doing good, give her medicine to help her lungs develop, and I now feel more educated about what is going on with my body and how to help her stay put longer. They also said it was still safe for me to excercise, drive, work, etc. as long as I am being careful to watch my health and not push too hard. They do want to start seeing me weekly now, to keep an eye out and make sure the membrane continues not to affect her and to continue to keep an eye on her growth, heartbeat,etc. Another upside to our stay was that Michael was able to explore and get more familiar with the different parts of the hospital, which will help later when we are there for the real thing and during Katherine's stay.

The only downside to being admitted to the hospital,is that I had to call and cancel my appointment with Eastover, which was supposed to be Friday morning, the day after the appointment with Dr. Stephenson. I called back Friday afternoon to reschedule for next week, but was not able to get anything definite yet. This is understandable, considering that a water main burst right next to the hosiptal (I think sometime Friday morning/afternoon?) and two of the nearby buildings had no water. As you can imagine, this was a nightmare on the staff, trying to get patients rescheduled and taken care of. Many procedures had to be done in the neighboring parts of the hospital that still had water. This slowed things down quite a bit, so I am surprised that we were still able to get discharged when we were. Also, Dr. Stephenson made sure to call us to answer all of the questions that we had for her and the care that was given to us by the nursing staff (Monica, Suzanne, Angie, and Gail to name a few) as well as Dr. Stover (the resident working in the high risk maternity ward) was exceptional. So, as of right now, I plan to call Eastover back again on Monday and will just have to pray they will be able to fit me in before the end of the week.

Thank you all for keeping us in your prayers. You have no idea how much the prayers of family and friends (even ones we may not know about) helps to strengthen our faith in the promises that God has given us and the plans that He has for us and for Katherine. We would also like to send a special thank you to the management and other employees at Jameson ( for keeping us in your prayers and for your kindness. We were so blessed to hear about Jameson and the Christian principles it allows and encourages in its employees.

Sorry this post was a little more wordy, there was just so much to say! We will close by wishing you all a very Merry Christmas whoever and wherever you are this Sunday. We pray that God watches over you and your families as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, and all of the hope that His birth brings with it.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phillipians 4:4-7

Friday, December 23, 2011

Growth checkup

Iam posting this from my phone so please forgive any typos. We went for our appt with Dr. Stephenson, the maternal fetal specialist, to check on Katherine's growth yesterday. The growth looks good - she is 3 lbs 12 oz so far. However, the Dr. noticed a membrane going from the placenta to the umbilical cord that she did not know what it was. She double checked the blood flow to the cord and also to make sure the cord is moving freely, which all looked good. Theywent ahead and admitted us to the hospital to moniter the baby for 24 hours and also to administer steroids to help her lungs develop. So far all looks good on the moniter and I will hopefully be discharged this evening.Will post an update on this when I am able. Please pray that all continues to look good, that she continues to grow, and that the extra membrane does not affect her negatively. Above all else pray that God's will be done in this to glorify his name.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Busy Weekend

There is much to report on this weekend so I will try not to be too wordy. Friday morning, I had my bloodsugar test at Piedmont OB. I had to drink a big bottle of what tasted like melted orange popscicle syrup. It wasn't great, but it was not nearly as bad as I feared. Then I had to wait exactly one hour before they drew multiple vials of blood to send off for the results. The doctor said that if they did not call us this week, then that means that I passed and that I should expect a letter stating such. Lets hope I pass... I don't want to have to do the all day test. =(

Secondly, we had classes at CMC main this Saturday. Yay, baby classes! I took a Transition to Motherhood class from 10-1pm, and then Michael and I both had Taking Care of Baby from 1:30-3:30 and Infant CPR from 3:30-4:30. There was somewhere between 15 and 20 pregnant women in my Transition to Motherhood class. As you can imagine, the wait line at the restroom during the breaks was a sight to see! We received a great deal of useful information, and are looking forward to the Childbirth and Labor Support class that we have scheduled in January.

Last but not least, we were able to get together with Murphy's and Trent's families on Sunday for dinner. We had great conversation and great pizza. Trent and Murphy were both as cute as ever and Trent's big brother Braxton was a lot of fun to talk to. Michael and I are really enjoying getting to know these two families and thank God every day that He has allowed us to live so close together so that we might have each other's support and fellowship both in parenting and in our shared faith.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Cardiologist Appointment

We had our second appointment with Dr. Bensky today to ultrasound Katherine's heart and see what was to be seen. She was extremely camera shy today and very active! Every time Dr. Bensky or the ultrasound technician got ready to take a picture of what they needed to see, she would move just as they were about to snap the shot. She wouldn't just move a little either... she was flipping, rolling, and wiggling all over the place. Once, Dr. Bensky even had to chase her almost under my ribs. No wonder I've been getting so short of breath lately with her running all the way up there! After a prolonged game of "chase the baby", they finally got what they needed. Dr. Bensky said that he didn't see any surprises and that the things that he did see looked good. He also introduced us to Dr. Peeler, who gave us a run-down on the surgeries that she will have after she is born. He was very thorough, giving us history, as well as success statistics, and the technical aspects of what will happen during surgery. It is amazing that in my life-time, children born with this heart defect have gone from 100% mortality rate to 80-95% survival rate (Dr. Peeler's stats are on the 95% side - he is apparently very good at what he does). What perfect timing the Lord has, to allow Katherine to be born in a time and a place such as this.

After our meeting with the doctors, we went on the tour that Dr. Bensky had arranged for us. We were able to see the Maternity Ward (including one of the labor and delivery rooms), the NICU, the CVICU, and the Neonatal Progressive Unit, as well as the cafeteria, the sleep rooms, and a few other places along the way. Everyone that we met was incredibly nice and very professional, just the type of people you would want to be caring for your child. I have noticed this about everyone we have met at Levine Children's Hospital and the Sanger Heart Institute, including the doctors, nurses, and other staff. God has blessed this hospital with people who truly have hearts for taking care of little hearts.

According to our wonderful tour guides, when Katherine is born, she will be taken to the NICU to await her first surgery, which will take place on the 5th floor (operating rooms). After her surgey, they will transfer her to the CVICU to begin her recovery. In this unit, they have a 1 nurse: 1 baby ratio and Katherine will be under one on one observation at all times. When she gets well enough, they will transfer her back to the NICU, where they limit their patients to 1 to 2 babies per nurse. When she gets even better, they will transfer her to the Neonatal Progressive Unit.  In this unit, her job will mainly be to learn how to feed and do normal baby things since her surgery and recovery will interrupt this process, especially learning how to feed. Once feeding is mastered and everything else looks good, then she will be able to come home with us. All in all, we had a good, productive day.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy Introductions

We got to meet two very special families this weekend, Trent's family and Murphy's family. Their blogs are

We had a lot of fun talking to Trent and Murphy's parents and getting to meet the boys themselves! They are both so cute and healthy looking, its hard to imagine they have already had two open heart surgeries each. It is truly a blessing and an inspiration to live so near other families who have been through what we are going through and who have grown stronger from it in so many ways. Plus, Katherine will be born already having two friends like her!

Also, last night we were over at Michael's parents' house and his mom got to feel Katherine move! Usually, Katherine is such a little rascal and stops moving as soon as anyone else puts their hand on my belly, but she was a good girl for Grandma yesterday.

Needless to say, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving week. God has given us so many special blessings for which to be thankful.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Follow Up Ultrasound

We had a follow-up ultrasound today with Dr. Stephenson to check on Katherine's growth. They said that she was growing well and that everything looks as it should right now. She is currently measuring at 26 weeks and 6 days, which is nice considering I will be 26 weeks this Friday. We will have another follow-up in a month to continue to keep an eye on her growth. The bigger she is when she is born, the better it will be for her first surgery. She was actually head down today, which is a change considering she usually is lying sideways when we get to see her. She was also sucking her thumb! It was so cute =) Attached are some new pics that they gave to us.

2-D Pic of Katherine sucking on her thumb
3-D Pic (Looks like she's trying to get a couple of her fingers as well)

Little feet

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Baby Katherine's Picture

Here is our little girl! Doesn't she have the cutest little nose?!

The Diagnosis

This is the story of our daughter, who has been diagnosed with a major heart defect. This blog was inspired by others like it. Reading about other families and their experience with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome has been a comfort and a blessing to my husband, Michael, and I. Hopefully, Katherine's story can do the same. In addition, we will be using this blog to update family and friends on Katherine's journey as it unfolds. Below is the email that we have sent out to family and friends upon finding out about our daughter's diagnosis. I am currently 25 weeks pregnant with our little blessing and she is currently happy and kicking away in her little home.
During our first ultrasound, the ob was not able to see the heart very well so we were referred to another doctor for a level II ultrasound. That doctor, Dr. Stephenson, said that there was a heart defect but that she wasn't sure which one so we were referred to a pediatric cardiologist. We went to see Dr. Bensky (the pediatric cardiologist in Charlotte). He did another ultrasound focusing solely on the heart. This time, she was in a really good position to be able to see the heart and exactly what is wrong. He said she does have Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, meaning that the left side of her heart closed off very early in the pregnancy and did not grow. Right now, the right side of her heart is doing everything, and with the way that the heart performs in the womb, he said it should be a normal pregnancy, that I will be able to deliver normally barring any other circumstances, and that she is perfectly happy in the womb and not in any distress. When she is born, they will have to give her a medication that will keep certain pathways in her heart from closing up (these pathways close up in all babies within about the first week without the medication). This will enable her to stay alive until her first heart surgery (the Stage I Norwood w/ Sano Shunt), which will occur 4-7 days after birth and is the longest, most intensive surgery that she will undergo. She will need to be in the hospital for 3-6 weeks following this first surgery. Her second surgery will occur between 3-6 months (the Glenn - Stage 2), and her third surgery will occur when she is 3 years old (the Fontan - Stage 3).
God has really been watching out for her, because babies with this heart defect that are not discovered in the womb, tend not to be found until it is too late. (Edit: Although I have recently read some stories where the condition was caught and diagnosed post-birth, and still treated successfully. Thank you for your stories of hope!) Also, we are blessed enough to live so close to the medical facilities and doctors that she will need. There are two congenital cardiovascular surgeons (focusing solely on baby heart operations) that work as a team together right there in the same hospital where we will end up needing to deliver at. They have done about 20 of these surgeries together and the senior surgeon of the two has done about 15 a year for the past 10 years. They also have a very very low mortality rate on their surgeries, much lower than the national average. We are doing ok emotionally and will continue to pray and trust God in His plan. It is just amazing how He has made sure that so many circumstances fall into place in order for her to be in the best hands possible. Please keep her in your prayers, along with the surgeons and medical personnel that will be taking care of her.