Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thursday, December 29, 2010

Yesterday, we found out that Caleb's surgery will be on Tuesday, January 18th.

The visiting nurse checked Caleb out on Monday. He was 10 lbs, 14 ozs. That means that he would have gained an ounce. I think that is a little misleading because last week I did not change his diaper before he was weighed and the nurse zeroed out the scale with a diaper this week. I am claiming three ounces for the last week - either way, it is going up not down, so that is good.

Caleb's oxygen saturation was about 70%. The low oxygen saturation and the slowing weight gain are the indicators that it is time for the next surgery. Now if we can just keep him healthy for the next two and a half weeks.

We think that he is having a little trouble with acid reflux, so the pediatrician increased his Zantac dose. Hopefully this will help. When he has a problem, he screams or looks like he is choking. It looks very painful for him and it scares me!

Overall, everyone seems happy with where he is at. He is getting such a personality and really likes to smile at new people. So far, so good!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

We had a very normal week last week. I finished my Christmas shopping on Tuesday, we finished wrapping presents at 1:30 am on Christmas morning, the kids were up at 5:00 am Christmas morning - all of the usual Christmas stuff and it was wonderful to have "normal"!

Caleb's visiting nurse came to my office on Monday to check on him. His oxygen saturation was 76% and we felt a huge relief. We suspect that he is still dropping below 70%, but he is capable of the proper levels when he is calm and happy. His weight was 10 pounds, 13 ounces - closing steadily in on 11 pounds. Based on the information that I have found, that would make him about the 0.4 percentile, meaning 99.6% of babies his age are heavier than him!

We still have not heard anything from Ann Arbor, but I am suspecting that things are kind of quiet there because of the holidays. I am not so antsy about getting the surgery scheduled when I know that he is not constantly below his ideal oxygen concentrations. Maybe we will hear something this week, but I am not holding my breath.

In the past, I have posted updates or prayer requests for some of the other babies and families we have met as part of this journey. Colton and Ben came through their 2nd surgeries well and both spent Christmas at home where they belong. We were very excited to see that both of them were home from open heart surgery in less than two weeks. I still find that amazing and hope Caleb does as well as they have.

Right after Caleb's last surgery, I requested prayers for Gabriella and Emilio. I still keep in touch with Gabby's Mom and Gabby is doing well. She has a very rare genetic condition that very little is known about, but she is home with her family and enjoying her first Christmas. I never really met Emilio's parents, but knew that he was in rough shape. When Phil got the newspaper on Christmas Eve morning, there was a photo of Emilio's Mom and Dad and a story on his NEW HEART! Following is a link to the newspaper article. The surgeon in the article is Caleb's surgeon. The doctors and nurses in Ann Arbor are truly amazing and are definitely one of the best Christmas gifts we will ever receive!

Emilio's Newspaper Article

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday, December 18, 2010

Caleb is settling back in after his heart catheterization this week. I still think his oxygen levels are too low much of the time, but I don't know that there is much we can do about it. I guess if they stay too low for too long, we can put him on oxygen. If you know anything about baby faces and nasal cannulas, you know that this is torture for all involved. He spends all of his time trying to get the cannula out of his nose, we spend all of our time trying to get it back in.

We have not yet heard from Ann Arbor regarding a surgery date. I will update when I find out.

There is not much new to post about Caleb. At the hospital, he weighed 10 pounds, 4 ounces. He still is not doing so hot with the bottle and we have had no record setting bottle adventures this week. He smiles every day now - even at the hospital this week. He is cooing more often and sometimes looks like he is on the brink of giggling.

One year ago this week, we found out that I was pregnant. What a year it has been! It started out worrying about miscarriage. Then it changed to worrying about carrying twins. Then it changed to worrying about one baby with a serious heart defect. Then it changed to worrying about Caleb's surgery. Then it changed to worrying about Caleb's recovery. Now we are worried about Caleb's next surgery. It is no wonder that I have lost a large amount of hair this year!

Through it all, we have learned some amazing things. We have learned that God really will give us the strength to handle anything we encounter. If you would have told me that our family could be separated for over ten weeks, hours apart, through the start of school, I would have never believed it. We have learned how really special all of our friends and family are. From the benefit, to the prayers, to meals, to words of encouragement when we needed them the most - we are unbelievably lucky to have the people we have in our lives. We have been reminded that together our family makes a great team - Phil was amazing covering everything at home and the kids were brave and strong with their Mom and new baby in another city.

This Christmas, we are so unbelievably thankful for all of the blessings we have. We are so fortunate to have Caleb here with us. We are blessed to have the love of our family and friends. Thank you for all of your support and prayers and for making this a very special year for us!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

As Phil posted, the heart catheterization went very well. The cardiologist was able to get access to the veins and arteries in Caleb's groin. This is no small feat considering how abused these vessels are. If they were unable to get in through the groin, they would have had to go in through the vessels in his neck. Not only could that have caused scarring, but it would have also had the potential for damage to those vessels, reducing our options for future catheterizations.

The cardiologists were able to see everything they needed to see and everything looked the way they expected it to. The left side of his heart - the healthy side - has a good squeeze with very little leaking of the valve. The pulmonary arteries looked nice and open, with the exception of a narrowing right near the shunt. This is very common and is the result of the heart and vessels growing, but the shunt remaining the same size. The surgeon should be able to fix this as part of the next surgery. The hole between the right atrium and the left atrium of Caleb's heart - one that is not supposed to be there, but keeps Caleb alive - has a little extra tissue around it. The surgeon may clean this up as well so they don't have to go back in later to fix it.

Caleb did not come out of the anaesthesia very well, so we ended up staying in the hospital last night too. His oxygen saturations are supposed to be between 70 and 80%. Caleb varied between 42 to 82% yesterday. They put him on some oxygen, but he still had trouble maintaining 70% when upset (which was a good portion of the time). He was up a lot in the night and set the alarms off quite a bit.

I was getting worried that we might not be heading home today either. As of this morning, Caleb was still hovering around the upper 60's. When the cardiologist came in this morning, he just told us to keep an eye on Caleb and go home. Because he does ok when he is not too upset, I think getting him home and away from IV's, oxygen sensors and alarms is his best bet for keeping his levels where they belong.

We should be hearing from the surgeon's office in Ann Arbor shortly to schedule his surgery. As much as I don't look forward to having him go through surgery again, I am looking forward to not being constantly worried that his numbers are too low.

As I had mentioned previously, two of the babies that were in the hospital with us the first time have had their second surgeries recently. Colton was discharged from the hospital 8 days after his surgery! Ben is off all oxygen and working on feeding 7 days after his surgery. We are hoping Caleb follows their lead.

Thank you for all of your prayers! There are no words to express how much all of your support has helped Caleb and the rest of our family.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The heart cath. went fine, Jen will post more info tomorrow (my first blog post and I spelled everything right, Jen will be so proud).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

My camera is on the fritz right now, so here is a picture I stole from Grandpa Dougherty.

As you can see from his picture, Caleb is growing and getting more social. He has started to coo frequently and usually smiles when he is the center of attention. He likes to be held and to watch people.

His heart catheterization is scheduled for Wednesday morning at 8:30 a.m. We will check into the hospital on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. The purpose of this procedure is to check out his heart in depth and check out the pressures in his lungs. The pressure in the lungs needs to be below a certain level for the next surgery to work.

The visiting nurse checked Caleb out on Friday this week. He weighed 10 pounds, 6 ounces. Everyone is very happy with his growth rate. He has actually grown enough that we got to increase his feedings. He now gets 80 mL every three hours. We have noticed that he is now starting to get hungry, instead of just being fed when the clock says it is time to eat. He still doesn't wake up for his middle of the night feedings, though. That is fine by us - he's still getting fed and hopefully his good sleeping patterns will stick as he gets older!

Caleb's oxygen saturations were back up to the mid 70's to 80. He definitely looks much better and seems to be kicking the cold. He coughs every once in a while, but he seems much less congested. So far, so good!

Caleb is making progress drinking from a bottle. Up until this week, his record was 17 mL and that was while we were still in the hospital. On Wednesday, he took 27 mL at one feeding. He went right back to not being interested until yesterday when he took 28 mL. He fell right asleep both times, so it must still be a lot of work for him. At least we know he can do it and hopefully as he grows stronger and gets a more efficient sucking pattern, he will be able to take more by bottle.

Caleb is on track to have spent 47 nights at home before heading back to the hospital and we couldn't be happier. We know of a lot of families that made return trips a whole lot sooner. We feel so blessed to have him here as a real part of our family. We know that we have many more nights apart, but in the end, there is a good chance that Caleb will get to grow up in our crazy family!

I will try to post this week on the results of the heart catheterization.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

Today's cardiologist appointment was a good news/bad news kind of day.

The good news is that I can read my baby. The bad news is that his oxygen saturation levels were low as I had suspected. For the most part, he was at 70, but he dropped into the upper 50's while he was screaming during his EKG.

The good news is that he is growing well. The resulting news (not really bad) is that we have been fast forwarded about a month. His heart catheterization will probably be next week, not in January. His next surgery will probably be the middle of January, not in February.

Caleb's cold is playing a part in the lower saturation levels, but they feel that his growth is the bigger factor. The cardiologist feels that Caleb is on the mend from the cold and we will just keep an eye on him to make sure he is not having to work too hard to breathe. So far, he still looks ok.

If Caleb's cold is gone by next week, the plan is to do the heart catheterization in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Caleb will be checked in to the hospital the night before to get IV fluids to avoid dehydration. He will have his heart catheterization and will stay the night after in the hospital. Some of the other babies we know that have traveled to Ann Arbor for their heart catheterizations were in and out the same day, but with Caleb's previous experience with complications, we are not complaining about the extended stay.

Caleb had both an EKG and an echocardiogram today. Both looked fine for him, so we are not dealing with any new complications.

The Early On therapist came today as well. Caleb was not very cooperative because he was so tired from his marathon doctor's appointment, but she was able to evaluate his sucking skills. She is quite confident that with some work, we can get him to drink from a bottle and maybe even breastfeed.

Overall, today was a good day. It is scary knowing that Caleb is on the lower end of where he is supposed to be (and is likely to go lower), but this really is a result of his good growth. The best part is that when the next surgery is over and he has recovered, the load on his heart will be greatly reduced and he will not be nearly as fragile as he is now. We will not have to be as terrified that every cough or sniffle will send him to the hospital.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

More smiles and the start of a double chin

Caleb's John Deere hat from Grandpa and Grandma Dougherty

The visiting nurse came on Tuesday to check Caleb out. He still has his cold, but she did not think that it had moved into his lungs. His oxygen saturation was 74% and he weighed 10 pounds. We are officially to double digits! As you can see, he is starting to fill out a little. He is still really long and skinny, but he is gaining.

On Wednesday, the therapist from Early On came to work with Caleb. We are trying to get him caught up to where he is supposed to be for his age. As you may guess, spending the first ten and a half weeks of your life in the hospital and sleeping a lot when you come home puts you a little behind schedule. She laid him on his tummy on the floor and he lifted his head about 45 degrees. He also moved his hands up to support himself. While this is not quite where he should be, it is some major progress. Our main areas to work on are his strength and gross motor skills as well as his feeding from a bottle. We are excited to get help with the feeding instead of just assuming he won't get it and waiting for a cup.

On Thursday, he had his pediatrician's appointment. The doctor was happy with his weight gain and also did not think that the cold had moved to his lungs. He got three different shots, so we are officially started with his immunizations.

Hopefully, he will get his RSV vaccine this week. The vaccine is so expensive that the company that supplies it checks to make sure that it is covered by insurance and double-checks with the parents so everyone knows how it will be paid (our insurance is covering it). The nurse practioner in Ann Arbor called it "liquid gold". I will just be happy when he has had the shot. A nurse will come to the house to give it to him, which means one less trip to the pediatrician's office and less exposure to sick kids.

Caleb's appointment with the cardiologist was moved up a week to tomorrow. I am glad because I am starting to get paranoid. Between his cold and not having had his heart checked out by the experts in a month, I get worried easily right now. Hopefully we will get a good report tomorrow and I can rest easy for a couple more weeks. I will try to post an update with results tomorrow night.

Friend Updates:
- Gabriela is home from a stay in the hospital with pneumonia.
- Colton's surgery went well and he is recovering in typical heart baby fashion - two steps forward, one step back.
- Ben's pre-surgery appointments are this Wednesday, with surgery scheduled for Thursday.

Thanks for all of your prayers for Caleb and for the rest of our family. We are so lucky to have people (some of whom we have never even met) praying for us!