Monday, October 26, 2009
Looking Back at Two Weeks of Grace
Two weeks ago we never would have guessed what God had in store for our family. It all seems so surreal...
Some of you may have been expecting or hoping for some posts in the days following Killian's birth to let you know about his progress - which has largely been due to your prayers - and about Nina's recovery. As you can see, I have not posted anything for several days, and that was intentional. First, let me reiterate once more that we cannot express our gratitude for the many sincere gestures of concern and all the countless prayers offered for our young family during labor and delivery. Thank you. And God bless you for that. The reason we have not posted anything is that shortly after Nina was discharged from the hospital following delivery she experienced several complications that were both worrisome and emotionally draining for us. We finally arrived home today - having spent the last two weeks in the hospital. When she was diagnosed on Wednesday morning around 5am we were absolutely exhausted both physically and emotionally. Though we appreciated every word of kindness and all the prayers from all of you, we felt that we needed to keep things very private and have only our very immediate family as our support group. We were overwhelmed and just needed some quiet time to ourselves in the midst of all the unknowns.
Killian was born on Sunday October 18th and Nina was released from the hospital the following Tuesday at 7:00PM. We went home and were looking forward to the first night of more than 3-4 hours of sleep to try to recuperate. However, Nina woke up at 1:30am that morning with unbearable pain in her chest and abdomen, particularly when she breathed. We went straight back to the hospital; this time to the Emergency Room. They hooked her back up to the IV, gave her some pain killer, and sent her for a CAT scan, X-Ray and ultrasound - all in ER fashion which is not quite as civilized or caring as the Maternity Ward. When the results came back they found that she had pulmonary embolism ( a shower of blood clots in her lungs), she had a little pneumonia, and they also found that she had gall bladder stones. Needless to say, we were shocked. We had left the hospital no less than 10 hours before and she was in great shape, and here we were again.
The medical staff then took an ungodly amount of blood from her (they went in 6 different times before they successfully drew the blood) to run tests for every possible genetic deficiency to explain the cause of the blood clots. They also put her on blood thinner to help move the clots along. We stayed for several more hours in the ER until they moved us to the Clinical Decision Unit which is intended to be a kind of temporary holding area for no more than 23 hours. We spent three days there because there was no room for us in the main hospital. This unit was in the basement, with no windows, very small, and Nina was in tremendous pain. Though the causes of her pain were known, the solutions were not simple. Her condition was further complicated by the fact that she was only a couple days postpartum so that some of the "normal" treatments were not feasible for her. We spent a lot of time waiting, praying, and listening to the group of doctors who were in consult about what to do with her situation.
The most pressing issue was her pulmonary embolism. To resolve that, the first step they took was to install a filter in the primary vein leading to her heart which would serve to catch and resolve any future clots before they passed to her lungs. The operation was successful but of course added some more discomfort. That filter combined with the blood thinner ensured that Nina would be out of harms way, though she still had to get out of pain's way.
The next objective was to get the gall bladder taken care of. After a lot of back and forth and various specialists weighing in, the surgeon decided to go ahead with an operation to remove her gall bladder on Saturday. The procedure was a success and he said the sack was "full of rocks and sludge" so it was a good thing we got it taken care of sooner rather than later. They also had her on an antibiotic which kicked the pneumonia right out of her system.
Since then Nina has been recuperating and going across the hospital to see Killian as much as she could. It seems as though he took all the good health with him when he left the womb! Both of them have done incredibly well with all the medical interventions that have been necessary over the past weeks. A couple day ago we were able to start doing the "skin to skin" time with Killian where the doctors let us hold him on our chest so we can establish that bond with him. Words cannot express what those precious moments mean to us to hold our fragile little son. Nina has had 3 of these "kangaroo" sessions with him, and I have had one (mommy's privilege!). He just melts into you, settles in and sleeps for an hour without moving a bit. He is always a happy camper when he's with Mommy.
Killian has been doing well in most all aspects. He is breathing room air, though he has a nasal apparatus that applies pressure to his lungs to help him breathe even that is on the lowest setting. He has gained a little weight since his birth, and he loves to kick off as many of his sensors as possible. He is a feisty guy and is living up to his name "small, fierce."
The lone major set back he has encountered so far is a small vein that babies in utero have. It is a by-pass of sorts that sends blood from the lungs to the heart. When babies come to term the blood vessel closes on its own and everything is fine. With babies that are born premature, that vessel will remain open unless treated. The first step was to give him some medication through the IV that coaxes the vessel to constrict and close itself off. Killian was given two sets of that medication and the latest tests still show an opening. He is in stable condition and not showing any symptoms of that vessel still being open, but we have to get it closed, otherwise ultimately his heart would enlarge with the increased blood flow and eventually cause heart failure. The solution at this point is surgery. Killian was transported this evening from the hospital where he was born to another hospital in Columbus that specializes in child care. They will go in through his back and isolate the vessel in question; then they will clamp it off with a titanium clip which will stay there forever. It is not open heart surgery, but it is very close to his heart and requires a large opening in such a small lad. Because of this he will be back on the ventilator for a week or two and they will have to watch his feeds again. This operation is somewhat common among children as premature as Killian and they are confident it will go well, but that does not entirely ease our concern and worry about our little boy, nor does it take away from the fact that he will have a more difficult recovery period.
Please continue to pray for Killian above all, and also for his parents that we may be the instruments that God wants us to be in his young life. We'll be posting some more pictures and information in the future, and we hope you understand the reason for our silence the past few days. Thanks again for all the prayers and support.