Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Reality of HLHS

When we first received the news that baby-to-be had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, I was in an exam room with a screaming toddler. Tony had left to go to work and I was there to have my monthly check-up. A doctor (not my own) came in and gave me the news. I was taken off-guard and had no clue what to ask. So, like every person who has access to the internet, I went home and started to do my own research.

The information out there only gave us an idea of what HLHS entailed. The scientific papers & studies were, well, really scientific. The 'personal stories' were vague. We wanted details. It wasn't until we met with the pediatric cardiologist that we received realistic statistics. A lot of what I had read on the internet had given me false hope.

In most of the scientific papers that discussed the surgeries, they gave a survival rate of 75-80%. The cardiologist let us know that those statistics only take into account the babies that have the first surgery and are released from the hospital. Those numbers do not take into account the newborns who die before surgery and those who pass away before the second surgery. When you look at it that way, the survival rate is more like 50%. And then, 10% of those children do not survive the second surgery and then many do not make it to the 'final' surgery.

A child with HLHS is put through 3 open-heart surgeries in the first few years of their lives - at a minimum. The possibility of complications is high. Since this is considered such a new procedure, cardiologists aren't really sure how long the rewired two-chambered heart will last. Many of these children will need a heart transplant sometime in their teens; some might make it to their early twenties.

I think it's pretty amazing that doctors have figured out how to make a 2-chambered heart work well enough to keep a person alive. But, it's really important to take into consideration how having half of a heart will effect the rest of the body's organs.

I wanted to write about what we were told by the pediatric cardiologist (and there was lots more) in hopes that it would help other parents who have just found out that their baby-in-utero has HLHS. For a week, we thought Baby Bee had a better chance of survival and had no idea the kind of pain he would go through once he was born. We had to make the most difficult and painful decision once we had all of this new information.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Playing in the Rain

Last week, we received some glorious rain. Of course, it started raining shortly after I promised Malcolm we'd go outside and play in the garden which is one of his favorite things to do. We found out that a little cold rain doesn't deter the determined tike.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Our Current Reality

This is not going to be an uplifting post. Far from it. Consider yourself warned.

On Monday, we had our 20-week ultrasound. We found out that Baby Bee is a boy. We also found out that he has Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). Essentially, the left side of his heart is not developing and is not functioning. You can get more details by doing a Google search.

I will be going in for further testing in the very near future to see if there are more birth defects. If Baby Bee only has HLHS, the hope is he will be able to have open heart surgery shortly after he is born. He will either have a series of 3 surgeries to allow his 2-chamber heart to function or he will have a heart transplant. There is a 25% chance that he will not survive his first surgery.

We were completely taken off-guard by this news. The last thing we expected to hear was that our baby-to-be has a very serious and rare heart defect. We are filled with a deep sadness. This has been the hardest thing either of us has ever been through and it's only going to get harder.

Friday, August 07, 2009

A Birthday Shout-Out


Happy 2nd Birthday to my adorable, funny, nutty little boy. We can't believe you are two already! Your Daddy and I love you a million tons of love. It's so much fun to see you grow up.


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Update on Being a Parent

And having a parent - Happy Birthday to my dad! He's 30 years older than me today!

18 week belly picture:

I started feeling Bee move around at 17 weeks. I'm now 19 weeks pregnant - almost halfway there! Next ultrasound is coming up on Monday.

This past weekend, we went over to Julie & Jeremiah's house so the kids could play. Here's one of my favorite pictures:

To see the rest, go to my Flickr page. Eliska and Malcolm play well together; she's pretty enamored by him and follows him around everywhere.

The little guy has finally started saying his name properly. We've known that he's known how for some time now because sometimes he'd slip up and say, "Malcolm" instead of, "MahMoh". He hasn't called himself MahMoh in a few days.