Kaleb at 9 weeks 4 days

Monday, January 23, 2012

January is Sanctity of Life Month

    Back before I had my son and my cousin had a family of her own we would spend a week at Emerald Isle during the summer. We would stay at this beautiful condo right on the beach. I have many great memorys from those trips but one thing that always stuck in my mind was how much the turtles lives were vauled there. The egg nest of the turtles were taped off and I believe it was against the law to mess with them, also there was a note in the condos informing us to please turn off the balcony lights at night. This was so when the turtles hatched they would not get confused by the lights and be unable make it into the ocean safely. I thought it was great how these turtles lives were so protected but it makes me sad to think that we don't value the life of a child in the same manner.
    I am pro-life and can't ever remember a time when I wasn't. I'm not sure if having a heart defect and thinking for much of my life I'd never have children of my own that made me decide that abortion was wrong, or if it was just the thought that how can something living and growing inside another living thing not be alive itself. I'm really not sure which thought had the most impact on my belief but I do think that everyones own life experience leads them to how they feel on the subject of abortion. I also believe that medical science has proven that the fetus or baby is a living and growng person right from conception. I saw my own sons first ultrasound at 9 weeks and 4 days and I could not deny he was a tiny little person.
    When I first discovered I was pregnant I was in shock and a little denial. I kept telling the doctor she was wrong I couldn't get pregnant. ( Yes, I know how dumb this sounds.) She wheeled in a portable ultrasound machine and showed me my tiny little butter bean for the first time. 9 weeks and 4 days. I could already see his little legs and arms sprouting from him.Then the doctor begin to tell me that having the baby was much to dangerous with my heart condition, that I only stood a 50% chance of surviving childbirth, and that the babys chances weren't that great either. Honestly, I can say that the first time I saw that little hipicture of m I knew I couldn't live without him. The doctor even made the comment that she should have never showed me that ultrasound picture. I did choose to have my son. I think almost everyone I tolds first response was, Your going to have the abortion right?? or What else can she do but have an abortion?? I even remember a few, Why are you doing this??   My pregnancy was not easy for me or my son, I shed many tears just out of fear alone. I won't go into all the details but Kaleb was born at 24 weeks weighing 1 pd 11 ozs. There was no doubt he was a little gift from God.
    I'm not writing this to judge people who have had abortions or to judge anyone who believes it's a womans choice, though I will say I do believe in this day and age it is a womans choice if she gets pregnant. There are so many forms of birth control that were not avaliable years ago and the thought of sex in general has changed as well (wheather wrong or right) I'd much rather see a young girl on birth control than pregnant .I don't want to make anyone feel judged or to feel guilty, I only want people to see the value of these little lives being lost because I've never met a baby that didn't make me smile, that their little laughter didn't make me want to laugh right along with them,or that their little eyes weren't filled with love, hope, and wonder. All I want is to see each one of them have a chance to live thier life.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Little Bit About Me And Tricuspid Atresia

I thought I'd right a little blog about my CHD since it is going to be CHD awareness week soon. I'm gonna share as much as I can but honestly this heart stuff has always not set well with me. Before my third open heart surgey at 25 the doctor sat  us down to explain what he was gonna do in detail and I told him he could explain it to my mom and cousin while I put my fingers in my ears and sang lalala. He didn't really agree to that so I just zoned out.

 I was diagnosed with Tricuspid Atresia when I was three months old and had my first open heart surgery very soon after. If you don't know tricuspid atresia is a type of congenital heart disease in which the tricuspid heart valve is missing or abnormally developed. The defect blocks blood flow from the right atrium to the right ventricle. I'm not sure exactly what when on during that first surgery. I believe there was a vein taken from my right arm and put somewhere in my heart. Now you can't get a blood pressure reading from my right arm. I'm sure even at three months I was trying to zone some of this out.

Years went by and all the time I was waiting to have my second surgery. Have you ever heard that saying.. When your young you think your gonna live forever?  Well I think that is a luxury kids with CHD never have. When I was seven I went in for my second open heart surgery. The fontan which if you don't know  is a palliative surgical procedure used in children with complex congenital heart defects. It involves diverting the venous blood from the right atrium to the pulmonary arteries without passing through the morphologic pulmonary ventricle. I'm not really clear about what all that means myself but it was done to me and to my care bear. He was all bandaged up too when we came out of surgery.

Many more years went by and I was ok, I was doing very good with someone with my condition. Then when I was around 25 I started feeling really bad so I went to the doctor and found out my heart had become enlarged and  I was going to have to have another open heart surgery. My first thought was just not to do it. I really thought I could be content with just living until I died which the doctor said would be about a year form then if I didn't have the surgery. With very much love and support from my friends and family I did have the surgery in June of 2002. After the surgery my doctor said that my heart had become as big as a basketball so they'd had to cut some of it out and do some reconstructing to it and I had a maze procedure done. In maze heart surgery, a heart surgeon creates multiple cuts into the upper part of your heart (atria) in an intricate pattern, or maze. Your surgeon then stitches the incisions together to produce scars. Because the scars do not carry electrical signals, they interfere with stray electrical impulses that cause atrial fibrillation. This restores your heart's regular, coordinated heartbeat. I had a hard time recovering from this surgery. I was in the hospital for almost two weeks.

I was good for a while after this surgery but then I got really sick in March of 2003. My stomach got really huge and I couldn't get out of the bed somedays. So again I went to the doctor, and if you don't know I've had the same cardioligist since I was that three month old baby. We've been through alot together and kinda have a love hate relationship. I think because I'm not a good patient. I always wanna do what I wanna do not always what she thinks I should do.I do trust her with my life and she is usually right, but this time in the hospital she didn't know what was wrong with me. So I was admitted and stayed for a week while they ran tests on me, and I've had so many catheterizations that they can't go throgh my legs anymore due to scar tissue. They have to go through my neck which really hurts if they don't knock you out all the way.. After a week they decided I was in heart failure and that all the fluid from my heart was just kinda sitting at my stomach instead of going to my ankles like most people. I was sent home and told to live like a slug until I could come back the next week and have my pacemaker implanted. So on April 3, 2003, which happened to be my neices birthday, I got my first pacemaker.

Since then I've had my pacemaker changed once. Just this past October. Everything has been fine with my heart since the first pacemaker and I pray everyday that it will remain that way. I did give birth to my wonderful son in May of 2004 totally against the advice of every doctor at Duke I think but I'll save that for another blog :) and I'm sure if I left any major details out about my heart stuff my mom or cousin will let you know. They keep up with all that better than I do anyway.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010


    Every six months I go to Duke Medical Center for a checkup to see one of my cardiologists. On this particular visit my dad had gone with me to help watch my son. My son was only about a year old but he still had not began walking yet so my dad had to tote him most of the day.
   As doctor visits go I had to go here for x-rays, there for echos, and so on but my dad stayed in the waiting room all day. My dad is quite the character and he talks to everyone and had befriended this father and daughter who were sitting beside him in the waiting room. While I was in the waiting to go back to see my doctor my dad introduced me to the family. The girl was only a few years older than myself and she also was born with Tricuspid Atresia.  My dad had been telling them all about Kaleb, my son, and how the doctors had advised me not to have him and how he was my little miracle baby. Sadly it turned out this girl had become pregnant five years earlier and had taken her doctors advice to terminate her pregnancy.
   I went on back to see my doctor but right before we were leaving the girl asked me to go with her to the restroom. Once we were alone she began to cry and hug me. She told me that I had made the right choice to have my son. She said that she had regretted her choice to have an abortion. I felt almost quilty standing there in that bathroom with her. I had my baby there with me and she still felt so sad without hers. I don't even remember the girls name but I think about her often.  I'm sure it must have been a hard choice for her to make. I often pray for her and that God has brought peace to her heart and I always try to remember to thank God for my faith and little bit of crazy that carried me through my own pregnancy.