Harper's appointment went really well today. She gained 3 ounces and now weighs 8 pounds, 4 ounces. After an EKG and Echo Cardiogram, Dr. Robinson determined that there have been no changes to her heart. We are scheduled for surgery next Tuesday. Dr. Robinson thinks she looks great and is very optimistic that the surgery will go well. We meet with Dr. Harrell, the surgeon, on Thursday.
When I get a chance to talk to people, most have a lot of questions about Harper and our life right now taking care of her. I thought I would answer some of the most frequent questions here in case any of you are wondering as well.
*What caused Harper's heart defect?
-We don't know. Congenital heart defects are the most common type of major birth defect and in most cases, it is impossible to find out just exactly what went wrong.
* I've noticed that Harper doesn't have her tube in some pictures, do you take it out for every feeding?
- No...we don't normally take the tube out between feedings. Occasionally, Harper will pull the tube out or we will remove it to give her a little break from it and switch it to the other side. I try to always take pictures when she doesn't have her tube in because I think she's extra beautiful without that thing.
* What if the tube comes out?
-We put it back in. This was the one thing that scared me the most when we first left the hospital, but it really is no big deal now. It has come out more times than I can count and it no longer gives me any anxiety when having to replace it.
* How does Harper get her food?
-I pump the milk, mix it with a high calorie formula called Human Milk Fortifier, we put the milk into a feeding bag that is attached to a pump, we set the rate we want the milk to go in at and the amount of milk we want her to receive, hook the pump tubing up to Harper's NG tube, and then hit the start button. We do this every three hours around the clock.
* When is Harper's surgery?
- Harper will be having surgery the morning of Tuesday, June 14th.
* How long will the surgery last?
-The surgery is expected to last between 4-6 hours. Harper will be on the heart/lung machine for two of those hours, which will be the riskiest and most critical part of the surgery.
* What are the risks of surgery?
-Possible complications range from infection, brain damage, damage to any of her organs, death, and everything in between there. But...Dr. Robinson is very confident that everything will go well and says that 95% of kids do great with this surgery.
* How long will Harper be in the hospital?
-If everything goes as expected, we should be in the hospital between 7-10 days.
* Will you be able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House again?
-Yes, we hope so. We are currently on the waiting list for a room starting next Monday. However, Harper will have her own room at the hospital this time, so at least one of us will be there with her at all times.
Side note: if you feel so inclined, drop some change in the Ronald McDonald House box next time you drive through McDonalds. It really is SUCH a great work that they do.
* Will Harper have to have more surgeries later on in life?
-If everything goes well, this should be the only surgery she will ever have to have. Her heart will be "fixed" and she will be able to lead a completely normal and active life.
*Will y'all be having more babies?
-I'm not sure when a family's reproduction decisions became open for discussion, but surprisingly enough, we have been asked this A LOT. So for the sake of full disclosure and at the risk of embarrassing our families...I'll answer it.
Quite simply...we don't know. Obviously we are not planning on adding to our family any time in the forseeable (or even unforseeable) future. Immediately after giving birth and right in the middle of major health issues isn't exactly the time to be deciding on things of this nature. Dustin and I both LOVE babies...especially ours. I would love to have a big family, but my last two pregnancies leave me hesitant to say the least (terrified is more like it). My doctors feel, with much confidence, that the problems with my two pregnancies were not at all related and they would not discourage us from future pregnancies. (I'm just wondering if they look at me as job security...ha)
We are extremely thankful for the three children we have been blessed with and for now, I feel like our family is just perfect. We'll see what the (far off) future holds for us.
* How do you do it?
-I get this question a lot and I'm not exactly sure how to answer it. You just do what you have to do when it comes to your kids and really...it's no big deal. Maybe Harper requires a little extra care than most babies, but it's certainly not a burden. We have a lot of people that love us and have been a tremendous help to us. My kids watch more t.v. than I would like, they eat more processed foods than I would like, I get less sleep than I would like, my house is not as clean as I would like, I drink more coke than I should, I can't remember the last real conversation I had with Dustin, Harper spends more time in her swing than I would like, Eli and Landon get less attention that I would like to give them. But we're all home together and I'm extremely grateful for that!
*What can we do to help?
-We appreciate so much all of the offers to help. Members of the church here have been a tremendous help by going with me to doctor appointments, keeping Eli and Landon, cooking us outstanding meals every week, and helping us financially. We are so truly blessed to be a part of this congregation. Our physical needs have been very well met. So, we just ask that you continue to pray for Harper over the next few weeks. We won't make it through this time without the love, mercy, strength, and peace that only God can provide.
What are some other questions you have?