November 10, 2010

Adjusted Expectations

Today we geared up for another round of doctor's visits.  While we will continue to have more frequent visits with doctors in the coming months, this should be the last of this initial flurry of meetings, consultations and tests.  Today we saw the pediatric cardiologist.  As I have mentioned, the real issue with the diaphragmatic hernia is a lung/breathing/pulmonary hypertension issue.  Since the heart is an important piece of all that, they wanted to check and see if the heart looks okay and is functioning correctly at this time (apparently with CDH there are often heart issues and complications as well since it gets shifted and smooshed in the process).  The pediatric cardiologist will be another part of the team (along with neonatalogists and pediatric surgeons) who are caring for Baby Girl once she joins us.  

The good news is - we got good news today!  They did a full fetal echocardiogram and it looks like everything about the heart at this time has formed correctly and is functioning well!  We thank you for your specific prayers about this issue; it was truly a great relief to get good news at a doctor's visit.  The stronger Baby Girl's heart is, the better it will be able to pump oxygenated blood through the body and to and from the lungs.  (I'm sure that was not completely anatomically correct, but cut me some slack.  I'm just an elementary school teacher).  We'll go back in eight weeks for another look, but for now, everything about her heart looks healthy and strong!

We had another realization today about how our expectations for doctor's visits have changed in the last two weeks.  In our young lives and pretty healthy experiences thus far, we've always gone to the doctor with an expectation that everything will be totally fine (except maybe a sore arm from a tetanus shot.).  We started this pregnancy that way too.  Doctor's visits were something to look forward to - a chance to hear the baby's heartbeat, maybe even see an ultrasound, and be told that everything is going just fine.   Don't forget to take your vitamins.  Our experiences of the last few weeks have probably changed how we enter exam rooms forever.  Today we were a little anxious, slightly concerned, hopeful, but reserved.  We've started preparing ourselves for bad news instead of expecting good news.  While this is probably not ideal, it sure made getting good news so so sweet. 

The doctor (another very kind and intelligent man; we've been so blessed with doctors!) began by telling us all the things that sometimes go wrong with the heart in cases of CDH.  Robert and I were holding our breaths for minutes before he finally uttered the words, "I don't see any of that going on with your baby."  Whew.  What a relief.

A lot of the processing for us the last week has been about adjusting expectations in general.  We're not going to have a picture-perfect baby.  We won't be going home with her days after delivery.  Another doctor told us today that we're likely have difficulty getting to transfer to breast feeding and that we may not be able to do that.  We're grateful that even though this medical knowledge about our baby has changed the second half of our pregnancy, we do have this time to adjust our expectations, change the images in our heads (some we didn't even know were there!) and begin to prepare for what our reality will be.  When she comes, we won't feel any disappointment and hopefully not any anger.  We'll know that it's a long and hard road ahead, but at least that's what we'll be expecting. 

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