In January 2011, we found out we were pregnant for the second time. Scared, but excited- we talked about names and whether we were hoping it was a boy or girl. We hoped for a girl. In March, we had our first ultrasound and found out we were expecting a baby boy. The second we saw that it was a boy, visions of Judah and his little brother playing ran through our heads. We were so excited to meet him. We named him Gabriel. Near the end of March, we had our second ultrasound. During the ultrasound, the tech didn't talk much. She said she could not identify all 4 chambers of his heart. We thought that it was because Gabe was so active. The next Monday, we were rushed into an appointment with a genetic counselor and an ultrasound which confirmed that Gabe only had half a heart- Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. We were leaned on to terminate our pregnancy- that Gabe's life may not be worth living.
Nick and I went home and sobbed- but we knew we would not end our pregnancy, we were already in love with our son Gabe.
We researched online and found that it WAS possible for our son to live. Bowen's story inspired us (www.bowensheart.com) to fight for our son. We researched the best hospitals we could take him to (none were in Idaho)- and we called Seattle Children's Hospital. They arranged everything, after a referral from our OBGYN. We went up to Seattle at 30 weeks pregnant to have another ultrasound and meet the people who would work to save Gabe's life after he was born.
At 34 weeks pregnant, I went into preterm labor. I was flown into Seattle at 35 weeks pregnant with 'delivery imminent'. When we got to Seattle, I was hospitalized with Gabe. They put us in a delivery room with a jacuzzi- but suddenly- everything stopped happening. I waited a week in the delivery room before they finally let us go... But we had to stay at a hotel nearby- since the baby could be born at any moment. We stayed in 3 different hotels towing Judah and all his things around during this time. Finally, at 38 weeks on the dot- Gabe was born at 2:20 in the morning. He weighed 7lbs 11oz. He was born with Down's Syndrome, half a heart, and a hole in his heart walls. After I held him for a moment, he was taken from my arms and quickly given prostaglandin- a hormone that would keep his PDA (an artery only present in utero) open so that he could await his surgery.
When we got to Seattle Children's Hospital (we delivered at University of Washington)- things were grim. Gabe's heart function had decreased to practically nothing. It wasn't squeezing, it was leaking... It was grim. Gabe was not a candidate for surgery.
We waited for a miracle, but nearly every day someone from cardiology was there to talk to us about taking Gabe home to die. We weren't ready to accept that it was over- and I thank God that we didn't every day.
Gabe's heart function (Through God and melrinone) miraculously improved into near perfection. His squeezing was perfect and his leaking had slowed to barely a trickle. He was a candidate for surgery- but we were yet again urged to take him home. We were told that his quality of life would not be enough to justify the surgeries, but here I am laying with him in bed, his gentle and sweet spirit, his happy and loving heart- knowing that his quality of life is higher than many babies out there.
Gabe had his first open heart surgery at fifteen days old. He was put on bypass for a while during this process, so afterwards he was extremely puffy. His chest remained open after his heart surgery for about 10 days, and finally his body let the fluid go from surgery- so his chest could close and heal.
Gabe took his time in getting out of the hospital, getting a few colds and infections, waiting for his g-tube and taking Mommy and Daddy for a ride. At 3 months of age, Gabe finally successfully left the hospital to the Ronald McDonald House, where we all await his second surgery.
It has been a busy year here.. Life changing. But in the best of ways. I value life more, love more, hug more, care more. I hope that Gabe inspires you to do the same!
HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY 2012