Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Her Special Heart

Zoelle has an extra special heart.

No seriously. She really does.

She was born with 3 holes in it!

But first, let's back up.

At my very last appointment with my midwife before Zoelle was born, we went to listen to her heartbeat and my midwife noticed that it almost seemed to skip a beat. We didn't think much of it because she assured us that the heart is still growing and that by the time we came in to deliver, it would be totally normal.

Fast forward to the day before birthing day. I was in labor. I wanted this beautiful, natural, water birth with Zoelle.

I did not get it.

The instant they first hooked me up to the monitors, they noticed something was wrong with her heartbeat. I could tell they didn't want to worry me, and to be honest, I was so focused on getting my natural birth that I didn't really seem to care.

When my midwife came in the next day (birthing day-yes I had a LONG labor), she was very concerned that I was no closer to delivery and that the baby's heart seemed to be going into distress with each contraction. She gave me an ultimatum: either get the epidural in the hopes that I would dilate in order to get this baby out, or get a c-section.

I choose the epidural.

Thankfully it worked and Zoelle was born a few hours after receiving it. It wasn't what I wanted for birth at all, but it was necessary for Zoelle.

When she was born, they immediately put oxygen on her. Her oxygen levels were extremely low. By some miracle, they let me take it off and try nursing her for 5 minutes or so on one side. Then she was whisked away for all sorts of tests, echocardiograms, heel pricks, etc. I remember her pediatrician coming in and drawing me a picture of her heart and circling 3 spots where there were holes. My mom says I was pretty out of it and just smiled and was like, "Oh she has 3 holes, ok no big deal!". I was definitely out of it, but looking back that was probably a blessing in that I didn't worry as much. I now know that she had a VSD and a PDA.

About half the team of doctors and nurses working on Zoelle right after birth. Daddy standing by completely nervous and unsure of what was going on.

After two straight days of being in their constant watch, they let us take her to our room with her oxygen tank and lots of other machines monitoring her heart. After 4 days in the hospital, we got to go home. When they removed that last wire from her I remember thinking this is the first time I've truly seen my baby. I could finally hold her without getting all tangled up. It was wonderful!

The view we had of Zoelle for days.

For a year we monitored her heart with steady echocardiograms. She continued to have a heart murmur because of the holes in her heart. At one year old, she had an echocardiogram done that showed that one hole had closed, one they could not find, and the third was still wide open. She did not lay still for that echo at all, thus the picture wasn't very clear and there were no real answers for us, or her doctor on what was going on. The only way to get a great picture was to sedate her, something that her doctor nor we were comfortable with being that she was living life normally on the outside.

Our plan was to wait until she was older to try again. Older came this year. With a still very persistent heart murmur, we went in for her echo a few weeks ago. This time, there was some apprehension on her face, but none for us as the echo technician is the same one we have had for the past 4 years and he is wonderful at explaining things to us, and making Z feel comfortable!

It literally brought tears to our eyes when the technician told us that he could not find anything! While he could still visually see her murmur, there were no visible holes! When I look at the medical books of what those holes could have meant, it is scary!

I read somewhere shortly after Zoelle was born that heart babies tend to have extra special hearts. They are sensitive and care deeply for others. I smile now when I think that our Zoelle, the girl with the 3 holes in her heart, is just that: sensitive and cares deeply for others.

Her heart is special: with or without the holes! But I'm praising God those holes are now gone!


Feel free to share any jewels or treasures in your comments to me. :)