Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I had two appointments at Duke on Friday.  One was a regular OB check and ultrasound, and the second appointment was to meet with one of the doctors from General Surgery to discuss Gavin's stomach surgery.

The OB said that she would expect to see my amniotic fluid level increasing around now, due to Gavin's duodenal atresia and his inability to swallow.  However, my fluid levels were completely normal, and Gavin's stomach wasn't as inflated as they expected it to be.  This may mean that SOME things are passing through from his stomach to his intestines, and instead of a complete separation of the two, his pancreas may be wrapped around the area narrowing the passage way.  The surgery to repair this is the same as if there was a complete separation, but if my fluid levels aren't elevated and his stomach isn't too inflated, it reduces the chances of preterm labor.  So that's good news!

We are blessed to have another fantastic Duke surgeon on our side.  The general surgeon that I met with had prepared a powerpoint presentation just for us and for the challenges that lie ahead for Gavin.  He was extremely thorough and answered every single question I asked.  I even gave him some new questions to throw into powerpoints for others.  :)  The team enviornment is strong and really helps calm your nerves in a stressful situation.  The doctor told us repeatedly that everything he does and when he does it, will depend on what the cardiologist says and how Gavin's heart is looking.  Once Gavin is born, they will take him back for an X-ray of his stomach and a fetal echocardiogram, and within 6-8 hours we should have a plan for when each surgery (stomach and heart) will take place, as well as a better understanding of Gavin's exact health situation. 

Once the duodenal atresia is confirmed by X-ray, Gavin's stomach will be pumped and they will give him an IV for nutrition.  After the surgery, he will continue to be fed by a tube for about a week or two.  Then they will begin slowly introducing milk to him.  While duodenal atresia is a relatively rare condition, the surgeon we met with has performed two of these surgeries within the past month and one was on a 2 lb baby!  Gavin was measuring 3.5 lbs two weeks ago so he should be much bigger by the time he makes his entrance.  The area the surgeons will be operating on is about the size of the tip of a ballpoint pin.  They will surgically connect the stomach and the intestines, and that repair should hold the rest of his life even as his stomach and intestines grow larger.  That is so amazing to me!

I am scheduled to be induced.  The teams are ready to take my little man and get to work on saving his life.  Most days are good for us right now.  We are in the last stretch of waiting, and while Gavin stays inside he is growing stronger and has my body to give him everything he needs.  There are times when I feel overwhelmed with fear and helplessness when I think of the fight and uncertainty he has ahead of him, but knowing that he is in such capable hands at Duke and that everyone seems to truly care about his well being is comforting.  Chris has been gone for about a week now, and we still have no idea if he is going to be granted emergency leave to come home for Gavin's birth and surgeries.  So for now, we would really appreciate prayers that Gavin continues to grow strong and waits to make his grand entrance until his due date, that Chris remains safe and out of harm's way, and that he will be able to come home and be with us during our upcoming hard times.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Renewed Strength

I intended to use this blog to update family and friends on Gavin's status and development.  And while I don't have anything new, medically, to share about Gavin, I am compelled to share a conversation that I just had in the hallway at work.  I was driving back to work from lunch today, and I was just having one of those moments where life seems to overwhelm you and figuring out how you are going to survive what lies ahead just seems impossible.  Then I walked into work, and ran into a lady that I often pass in the halls, but have never really spoken to aside from the polite "Hello, how are you?".  I haven't seen her in a while, so when she saw me today she was surprised to see I was pregnant and proceeded to ask me how far along I was and what I was having.

Then the conversation turned to the struggles Gavin is facing, and she immediately went on to say the following...

She said, "You know what?  Gavin has a purpose on this earth and in this life far greater than you, or any of us realize.  I am a strong believer in God, and I really do feel that when this little guy is born that he is not going to be as bad as they say he is.  I don't find it a coincidence that you were asked THREE times whether or not you wanted to keep him.  He is going to be a warrior in this world, and someone is trying to not let that happen.  The fact that three times you said no, he will not be terminated...the fact that you went to get a second opinion when one doctor led you to believe he would never come home...someone wants to keep Gavin out of this world in a fierce way.  But you, you were chosen to be his mother because you are a warrior too.  Warriors don't come from weak families.  You refused to give up on him and you have fought for him, and I really feel that he is going to come into this world and serve an amazing purpose that we cannot begin to comprehend.  Gavin has already touched so many lives before he has even arrived.  You are carrying a miracle, and you have been chosen to have and raise this miracle.  I am going to certainly pray for you and your family, but I am excited to see what Gavin is about to bring us in this world."

Then I mentioned that I had asked my aunt, who has been through multiple brain surgeries, to be in the delivery room with me.  That she has survived what doctors said that she couldn't, and she is a walking miracle and light in this world.  And this lady at work responded,

"Man, another warrior in your family!  Gavin is going to have a room full of angels over him when he's born and two warriors ready to guide him on his journey.  And I'll pray that Chris makes it in time, but even if he doesn't, Gavin has his blood and with a daddy as a Marine, well that's even more warrior strength for him to fight whatever battles lie ahead of him.  Gavin is going to change this world....he already has before he's even arrived."

I mean, wow!  I was just drudging back into work, having a pity party moment and I walk right into a person that I barely know and end up receiving a message that just blew me away.  I am so inspired right now and I just wanted to share this moment with each of you!