We left early this morning for a full day of appointments in Lubbock. It wasn't until we were almost to the end of our 1.5 hour drive that I realized that the radio wasn't on and we hadn't said many words to each other. I know what I was doing and I suspect Dustin was doing the same.
I prayed for strength to handle whatever it was that we learned today. I prayed for peace and understanding. I prayed for just a small ray of hope. I prayed that whatever God's will for our little girl was, that it be done. But I also prayed that I get to meet my sweet girl and keep her here with me...because I love her so much and I'm selfish like that.
God answered my prayers.
I can't explain the way that God has answered our prayers without a little heart anatomy lesson. Please forgive me because I am quite new to this information and am quite certain that I will mess something up.
This is a normal heart:
What we saw last week was a very small (almost not even there) Right Ventricle and they could not find the Pulmonary Artery (which takes blood to the lungs). Babies with this type of defect normally do well in utero because the baby is getting it's oxygen from me, so her body doesn't even know that it's missing something. But outside of the womb, it is fatal if not treated immediately through a series of surgeries.
Dr. Robinson looked extensively at our baby's heart today and this is what he found.
*While the Right Ventricle is definitely smaller, it is still there and it is actually functioning. It is already sending blood to the lungs.
*The Pulmonary Artery is there and working.
*The left side of the heart looks good.
*The Mitral Valve is working.
*The Aorta looks good.
Our problems are this:
*Our baby is missing the Tricuspid Valve. Normally...this would mean no blood could enter the Right Ventricle causing it to basically shrivel up and die. BUT...
*Our baby has a hole in her heart between the Right Ventricle and the Left Ventricle. This isn't a good thing normally, but because of this hole, blood is able to enter the Right Ventricle and leave through the Pulmonary Artery and go to the lungs.
These are much favorable circumstances than we originally thought.
She can't live long-term with her heart the way it is, but it buys us a little time right after birth to allow her to get a little bigger and stronger before she has her first major surgery to start correcting her heart problems.
What this means for us right now is (assuming that things develop as they seem to be):
*She will not need major heart surgery in her first week of life. She will need a procedure done called a PA Band that restricts the amount of blood that is sent to the lungs (the hole in her heart is actually allowing too much blood through). Compared to what we thought we were facing, this is much better.
*We will not need to be in Houston for this. I am so relieved. I can deliver here in Lubbock and if everything goes well, our NICU stay should be fairly minimal (1-2 weeks).
There is more that can develop, both good and bad, over the next weeks and months. We are just hoping and praying for the best.
We heard a lesson last Sunday morning about handing our struggles over to God and putting our faith in Him to take care of it. The preacher referenced Ephesians 3:20-21 - "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." And then he gave the example of the Israelites being delivered from Egypt. They prayed for deliverance, but do you think any of them had thought to ask God to part the Red Sea? But that's exactly what God did in an undoubtedly impressive and awe-inspiring event. Sometimes, I think we limit God to the possibilities and solutions that we can come up with on our own, but He is so much bigger than that. I would have never known to ask for, of all things, a hole in my baby's heart. But, this is what she has and it has alleviated some of the problems that we could have that are much worse than what we are now dealing with.
Our sweet baby's heart is still sick. She will, most likely, still need procedures, and surgeries, and medication. But she also will, most likely, be able to live a healthy, active, unrestricted life when this is all said and done. Dr. Robinson is so confident of this that he gave her a 90-95% chance of growing up healthy and active. When he told us this, I wanted to cry...tears of joy. We are encouraged, hopeful, and most of all, thankful.
We still have a tough road ahead of us, but I am confident that, with God's help, we can handle whatever comes our way. Thank you for your continued prayers. God is hearing our prayers and he is with our sweet baby girl.