Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Day We'll Never Forget

On Tuesday, April 30, 2007 my husband, Kent and I went to the 20-Week ultrasound of our baby. We couldn't have been more excited. Kent had been unable to make the previous ultrasound and was anxious to see the baby for the first time. We made sure to let the ultrasound technician know that we DID NOT want to know the sex of the baby. She was careful not to show or tell us. The ultrasound took a lot longer than I thought it would. I was happy though. The longer I got to look at the baby, the better. The ultrasound technician mentioned that she wasn't able to clearly see all of the heart chambers but that it was probably due to the baby's position. We finished the ultrasound and I went to sit in the exam room while Kent headed back to work. My doctor came in immediately and said that because they couldn't find all of the heart chambers, I needed to see a maternal-fetal specialist. Fortunately they could squeeze us in today if we went right then. I was so thankful to be able to catch my husband right before he got on the elevator to leave. My cell phone was dead so he'd left me his and I wouldn't have been able to get in touch with him. I didn't want to go alone. I brought him back into my doctors office and she told us that we shouldn't worry because usually if there is a major problem, the baby's abdomen would be swollen and ours was not. The nurse came in and took my blood pressure (92/60) and then we headed over to the hospital across the street.

We waited to see the specialist for about 2 hours. They called us in a little after 5:00 PM. I was just glad they could squeeze us in. They took my blood pressure again (now 107/60). First the ultrasound technician scanned me, then the doctor. The ultrasound went on for over an hour. The doctor was talking to her associates in what seemed like a foreign language. She assured me that she would explain it all when she was finished. By now, I figured something must be wrong. I prayed as I lied there on the table.

Finally, she put down the ultrasound tool and told us there was indeed something wrong with our baby's heart. The left ventricle had not developed normally. Our unborn baby has what is called Hypoplastic Left Heart Sydrome. At this point I still did not grasp the seriousness. The doctor painted us a VERY bleak picture (I know now, that they have to do this to protect themselves. I won't explain everything this doctor told us because I know now, that she was preparing us for the absolute worst. While, it is important to know the possible negative outcomes it is also important to know and pray for the positive results) Kent and I were crushed. How could this happen? I can't believe I'm hearing what this doctor is telling us. She also explained that it was nothing we did. It just happens.

The doctor explained to us that there is an experimental procedure that can be done in-utero. She didn't have the information with her, but she would get it for us on the next day. She urged us to have an amnio done to check for any chromosomal abnormalities. If the baby did have any chromosomal abnormalities it would disqualify us for the in-utero surgery. We set up an appointment to meet with her the next day, Wednesday, to discuss everything further.

As we walked through the hospital to the parking garage, tears streaming down our faces, we watched as a family gathered around the labor and delivery room door awaiting the news of the birth of their newest family member. We saw a largely pregnant woman and her husband head into the hospital suitcase and pillows in tow, ready to have their baby. I wondered if we'd get to experience either of these joyous occasions.

When we arrived home, we began calling our family members. It was so difficult. This baby that had brought everyone so much joy upon announcing that he or she would be coming, would now bring many tears. Our family quickly surrounded us physically and with their prayers.

I cried and prayed as I went to sleep.

In the next few days and weeks we learned that we are having a baby girl and have named her Julianne Frances. We received confirmation from a Pediatric Cardiologist that Julianne does, indeed, have Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. The results of the amnio showed no chromosomal abnormalities, however we would not qualify for the in-utero surgery as Julianne has little to no left ventricle at all.

We've been constantly encouraged and prayed for by our family and friends. God has turned our tears into joy as we anxiously await the opportunity to meet Julianne. Some days are still difficult, but we are thanking God for blessing us with this very special baby girl!