Monday, April 11, 2011

How I became a Heart Mom

On March 8, 2010 I headed to the hospital to be induced with my first child.  I had a very uneventful pregnancy and besides the fact that my son was a week overdue everything seemed to be perfect.  I had a very elaborate birth plan that included avoiding an epidural an breastfeeding within a few minutes after delivery.  Those plans quickly went out the window.  As I started to have intense contractions, the baby's heart rate started to drop.  A couple times the nurses were able to move me around and get things under control, but my Ob warned me that if this kept happening I would need a C-section and if I didn't have an epidural then I would have to be put to sleep.  So in order to be awake for the delivery of my son I opted to go ahead and get the epidural.  It ended up not being as bad as I had imagined. 
 I'm glad I got the epidural because sure enough my son's heart rate started dropping again and this time it wouldn't stabilize.  The doctor stood there while the nurses tried several times to adjust me and then said, "It’s time, let's go".  The next few moments are quite a blur.  The doctors and nurses quickly suited up and got my husband into a bunny suit.  Then they RAN down the hall towards the operating room.  All the while I was crying.  I had not wanted a C-section and I was so scared.  What seemed like moments later I heard a cry that was not my own.  My beautiful precious boy had entered the world.
At this point my cries became those of joy as my husband snapped picture after picture.  We were so excited.  However it soon became apparent that something was wrong.  I kept asking if I could see him and the nurses kept saying, "We need to pink him up a little bit."  I know now that my son had a bluish tint to his skin and his O2 sats were only in the 60's.  Finally the nurse brought my son over near me to weigh him and I got my first glimpse of this sweet little boy.  Then they informed us that they needed to move him to the special care nursery.  My husband glanced at me and I nodded for him to go with our son. 
I spent the next hour in the operating room waiting for the results of an x-ray.  Because it was an emergency C-section, they hadn't had time to count the instruments before so they had to x-ray to make sure nothing was left inside of me.  The whole time I was back there and while I was in the recovery room, I couldn't stop crying.  I didn't exactly know why I was crying, I was just overwhelmed by the whole experience and worried for what was going on with my baby.  The nurses tried to comfort me by saying sometimes C-section babies just don't get all the fluid out of their lungs. 
After I was in the recovery room, the doctor and my husband came in to tell me what was going on.  The doctor said that something was wrong with my son and it was either and infection, his lungs, or his heart.  But he said he didn't think it was an infection.  The doctor left and my husband and I clung to each other and cried.
An hour later my son was transferred to the local Children's Hospital.  They wheeled him into my room so I could see him and touch his hands and feet before he left.  The doctors on the transport team told me that they had narrowed down the problem to his heart and that he would need open heart surgery.  The whole time they were talking I just wanted to say, "Please stop talking, I just want to look at my son".  I wanted to soak up every second he was with me. I wanted to study his every feature.  The future at this point seemed so uncertain and I felt so helpless. 

My husband went with my son and my mom stayed with me.  I count it as a blessing that by this point I was exhausted.  I nodded in and out of sleep till I received a call from my husband around midnight.  Once at the hospital they had diagnosed my son with Transposition of the Great Arteries.  A condition where his pulmonary artery and aorta were connected to the wrong chamber of his heart and his body was not pumping oxygen rich blood to his body.  We knew later that week he would have a surgery to "correct" this condition. 

Still as I write this I am filled with so many emotions.  It's one of those things you think will never happen to you.  While I was pregnant I think I skipped the chapters in books about having a child with special needs.  But it did happen to me.  My son was born with a heart condition and my journey as a "Heart Mom" began.