Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The story of my daughter's heart

(For safety reasons, I will refer to my daughter using the initial of her first name.) About three years ago, when we were expecting our daughter S, I went in for a routine appointment at my doctor's office. I was about 35 weeks along, and had had no complications with the pregnancy. The nurse came in to check my baby's heartbeat, and it took her a little while to try to find it. The nurse was able to find a heartbeat, but it didn't sound right to her, and she went to get my doctor. I was more than a little shaken. Still, I told myself to be calm and prayed that everything was alright. My doctor listened and the heartbeat was all over the place. I had no idea what was wrong, or what it meant. My doctor told me that I needed to do a non-stress test so they could monitor the baby's heartbeat.

I walked down the hallway to another room where they hooked me up to the non-stress test machine. I think I was hooked up to it for about 20 minutes. The baby's heartbeat was still all over the place, and so my doctor came back in the room and told me she was sending me to Labor and Delivery at the hospital for additional monitoring. She assured me that the baby was not in immediate danger, but that we needed to find out the cause for the irregular heartbeat.

I called my husband, who was at work, and asked him to take me to the hospital since I wanted him to be with me just in case something was very wrong. I sat in a hospital room for the next several hours listening to the irregular heartbeat of my baby girl. I watched the paper printout from the monitor as the black recording line jumped all over the paper. Finally, the hospital was convinced the baby was not in danger, so I was released with instructions to follow up with a perinatologist.

I made an appointment to see the perinatologist, and again went through more monitoring and a bio-physical profile ultrasound. My husband was again able to go with me, and I am so thankful for that. That first appointment was scary for me, since I had never had complications before, and now I was labeled "high risk." The perinatologist wanted me to follow up with a pediatric cardiologist. The next day, I went to see the pediatric cardiologist. They had a high-tech imaging system that enabled them to look into the baby's chest and examine her tiny heart. I laid on the sonogram table for over an hour while they looked at the screen and talked softly among themselves. That was unnerving, because sometimes I would think that their tone indicated a major problem. But at the conclusion, the pediatric cardiologist relieved my fears by informing me that the baby's heart was not damaged in any way from the irregular heartbeat. They couldn't say for sure what had caused it, and they could not say for sure what the outcome would be.

They gave me several scenarios of a possible outcome. Best case scenario was that often times the baby's heart would correct itself as soon as birth occured. However, sometimes medication would be necessary to regulate the heart. Worst case scenario was that the baby would need a pacemaker after birth. It was determined that a regular birth would be too stressful on the baby's heart, and therefore, I would have to have a c-section. I had been suspecting this from the first time I met with the perinatologist. I'm thankful that I had a chance to sort of wrap my mind around it. I had been terrified of having to have a c-section when I was pregnant with my first child, but thankfully, it was easier to accept that I would need one this time. I know the Lord was really helping me during this time.

I continued to see the perinatologist for weekly bio-phyical profiles to make sure the baby was not in any distress. The date of the c-section was set for two days after Christmas. This was about two weeks and two days before my actual due date. The doctor did not want to risk me going into labor. On the day of the c-section, my husband and I arrived at the hospital around 5:00 a.m. The section was scheduled to start at 7:00 a.m., so I was in a prep room until it was time. I was extremely nervous, especially since they had me once again hooked up to the non-stress test machine. The baby's heart was extremely erratic that morning, and that really made me nervous. She may have been stressed because I was so nervous.

Things started happening very quickly around 7:00 a.m. I was taken to the O.R. (well, not exactly taken - I had to walk there myself, in my hospital gown clutched tightly around me - because we all know how "modest" those are - and my ugly, brown, hospital-issued socks complete with no-slip treads on the bottom so I wouldn't fall........all while I was dragging my I.V. line next to me.....yes, people were, I have no idea why the hospital didn't GET ME A WHEELCHAIR for crying out loud!) Anyway, I will spare you the details of the prep that goes on in the O.R. But let's just say my blood pressure was going up and the nurses kept asking me if I was okay. I told them I was fine, I was just TERRIFIED. They seemed to accept that and just kept prepping. Pretty soon my husband was allowed to come in, covered head to toe in scrubs and a face mask. I could barely talk to him, I was just so nervous. I also was starting to feel the effects of the spinal, and most of my body was going numb as it spread. I didn't know what it was really supposed to feel like, and I began to wonder if I was dying since it was rather hard to breathe. I'm pretty sure it was just that I was scared, and probably taking shallow breaths so that's why I was out of breath.

I didn't even know the doctor had started the section until he was almost ready to take the baby out. I had been worried that I would be able to feel the knife, and when I realized that I couldn't, I finally started to relax a little. Let me back up and say that the doctors had prepared me what might happen to the baby once she was out. They told me that section babies are often blue and cannot cry or breathe very well right away. They were unsure of what her heart would do - would it correct itself, or would she be wisked away and need medical intervention? I tried to prepare myself for not being able to see her right away, and kept praying that she would be fine.

Within minutes of the doctor starting the section, they told me they were almost to take her out. I heard her cry right away, and they held her up over the sheet curtain for me to see her. She looked perfect! She was pink, and she was breathing on her own and screaming her little lungs out. Her Apgar scores were I think an 8 or a 9 out of 10, so she really was doing very well. They cleaned her up and did all the stuff that they do, and checked her heart. It was beating normally! She did not need medication or intervention of any kind.

So many friends and family members had prayed for S's heart to be healed. What an answer to prayer, and what a miracle God performed! Every year on her birthday, I am reminded of what a special gift from God she is. She is a perfectly healthy, happy, normal little girl with a big personality, and all the glory and praise goes to my heavenly Father, the Great Physician.

1 comment:

Karis said...

Oh, girl. I had never read this even though I remember hearing some of the details. I have been trying to keep up with you a little wondering about how you and baby #3 are doing. I saw this link on Facebook. So sad that I haven't kept up with your blog. Maybe one day, I'll go back and read through it! I love you!