Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Doctors' Visits: All in a Day's Work

Today, we had a full day of consults and appointments at Duke...we were literally in with doctors from 9 to 5!  But it was a very good day overall.  We started with an ultrasound at Duke Perinatal, and for the most part everything looks the same.  Then we met with the Department Head there, and I must say, it was the best doctor's visit I have ever had.  His bedside manner was wonderful and he really put us at ease.  He gave us permission to Skype with Chris during the delivery, so if for some reason Chris can't get home in time, he can still see Gavin being born. 

Once we finished at Duke Perinatal, we headed over to the children's hospital for another fetal echocardiogram.  The news wasn't as uplifting as our last echo, but the doctor spent over an hour and a half with us discussing the results.  It really felt like specialized, red carpet treatment.  While it is difficult to determine the exact extent of Gavin's heart problems at this point, it seems that he isn't going to be able to wait until the 4-6 month window for surgery.  Most likely, he will either have a shunt put in or have full open heart surgery before he ever leaves the hospital.  The duodenal atresia surgery will still take place within his first 24-48 hours of life, and then once he's stabilized from that the doctors will decide on what type of heart surgery to do.  If Gavin only has a shunt placed in his heart initially, then he will have to return within 1-3 months to have the full repair. 

After our fetal echo, we had the opportunity to sit down and discuss Gavin's heart condition with a surgeon.  Chris said he felt like he went to medical school today!  We learned a lot about the different procedures and complications of Gavin's heart surgery.  To say it's difficult to have these discussions in regards to your child is an understatement.  But it certainly helps to have such a caring, knowledgeable and professional team involved from the very beginning.  It was hard to hear them talk about stopping Gavin's heart for surgery and risks involved with putting him on a heart and lung machine.  Medically (and practically), I understand stopping a heart for open heart surgery.  I get it.  But as a mother, it's terrifying.

We also took a tour of the labor and delivery ward and the pediatric ICU.  Seeing newborn babies with tons of tubes coming out of their tiny little bodies, and knowing that's what my son is going to go through, was another terrifying moment of the day.  But again, the preparation we are receiving prior to going through all of this is truly a blessing. 

All of the doctors and nurses we have met with have also been very vocal about sending any amount of letters, emails, faxes, Red Cross messages or making any amount of phone calls to make sure Chris can be back for the delivery.  They mentioned working with multiple deployed military members and adamantly fighting chain of commands to do what they can to ensure Dads can come back for these high risk situations.  While nothing is a guarantee, it sure helps to have that support behind us.

I have 10 weeks before my due date, so the goal is to keep my little guy in there as long as possible!  However, next week we will have our delivery date.  They will induce labor due to the high risk nature of the pregnancy to ensure that we have a whole team on stand by to take care of our little warrior when he's born.  So prayers would be greatly appreciated that Gavin stays put until our induction date, and that Chris will be allowed to return in time to be here for the delivery.

Gavin still has a very steep, uphill battle ahead of him, but I know he has a canvas of prayers over him larger than Chris and I probably even realize.  We are in the best care at Duke and we are confidant that they will get our son home to us. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Life Happens

Tomorrow, we have our first consultation at Duke with the Maternal Fetal Medicine office there.  We don't expect to learn anything new tomorrow, but we are looking forward to the transfer of care there and to begin meeting the team of doctors that will be watching out for our little Gavin.  We will return to Duke at the end of August to meet with Gavin's team of surgeons, so by the end of the month we should have a better, more in depth picture of what our little guy will be facing when he's born.

In addition to continued prayers for our little guy, Mom and Dad could use a few prayers too.  Two weeks ago, I woke up not really feeling right.  I felt a little off all day and mentioned it at a doctor's appointment I had that day, but it didn't seem to be cause for concern at the time.  I called Chris that afternoon at work and told him I needed him to come home.  According to him, by the time he got home, I was laying on the couch and while I was breathing and had a pulse, I was unresponsive for 20-30 minutes.  Chris called an ambulance and I was taken to the hospital.  Luckily, Lorelai was at daycare when this happened and her incredibly sweet babysitter kept her while Chris went with me to the hospital.  I woke up in the ambulance, and spent a couple of hours in the emergency room before I was released.  The baby seemed fine, my blood tests came back normal, but since then we haven't been able to get any answers as to what could have caused the episode.  But we really need prayers that this doesn't happen again....especially since Chris got an official answer yesterday that he will be leaving within a month for a one year deployment.

We are hoping that at the very least, they will delay his deployment date some, so that he will be able to be here for Gavin's birth and his first surgery which will most likely take place within his first 24 hours of life.  Because of the duodenal atresia, we are at risk for preterm labor so if Gavin comes too early, then things are complicated by his lung development and other premature factors that may affect his strength to face surgery.  Most likely, if Chris can't get his deployment date pushed back, he won't make it for the first surgery.  He can request emergency leave for Gavin's open heart surgery, but that's the best we can hope for at this point. 

On the bright side, Chris won't be going to a combat zone.  He's done his three combat tours, had his HUMVEE hit by an IED and has his purple heart.  So while we're not exactly thrilled he's deploying during this difficult time, it has been and always could be worse.  We will have the ability to talk and Skype on a fairly regular basis, and when he comes home from deployment he will be on terminal leave and finishing up twelve years in the Marine Corps. 

To say that the year ahead of us is going to be hard is an understatement.  But luckily for us we have a strong relationship and an incredible support system of family and friends.  We'll adapt to the situation we've been handed and make the best of it.  There are certainly people out there that have it worse than we do, and while we feel overwhelmed at times, we know that we are blessed with many positives and we will continue to focus on those to get through the tough times.