Huck Inlow | 4 Months


Late posting, as usual! But in our defense, with Huck’s last surgery and recovery, things have been a little hectic! 

Stats:

  • Birth – 3035 grams | 6 lbs 11 oz
  • 1 Month – 3950 grams | 8 lbs 11 oz
  • 2 Months – 4420 grams | 9 lbs 11 oz
  • 3 Months – 5620 grams | 12 lbs 6 oz
  • 4 Months – 5889 grams | 12 lbs 15 oz

He is wearing size 2 diapers and currently not wearing clothes since he just had his Glenn surgery. Was wearing 3-6 months right before though! He has almost completely outgrown 3 month onesies. 

Eating: Huck was eating anywhere from 120-150 mls per bottle, every 3-4 hours up until the point he went for pre Glenn cath lab at around 3 1/2 months. After that, he developed necrotizing entercolitis (NEC) and was put on bowel rest and antibiotics for 14 days. They ran IV nutrition during that time. He was released to restart feeds the Sunday after his Glenn and we started with 15 mls and are up to 30, but so far he is not tolerating his feeds very well. He has taken 7 bottles in the last 24 hours and puked up the entire volume of 3 of them. Eating is the main thing he has to figure out again post op in order to be able to go home. 

Sleep: Again, pre Glenn, he had a pretty decent routine, but it kind of all went out the window post op. He is starting to sleep more at night and nap less during the day, though. He still sleeps a lot in the mamaroo which helps his reflux, but will also sleep pretty decent in his bed at a pretty steep incline. I’m still brainstorming ideas for sleep when we go home.. pretty sure we will be getting a mamaroo, but trying to think of other options too. We had an arms reach co sleeper that I’m trying to figure out if there’s a safe way to elevate the head of it. If you have any ideas, let me know! He will be sleeping in our room for quite a while because I’ll be a nervous wreck for … oh, the next 18 years. 

Milestones: He rolled belly to back a few more times before he went back on chest precautions post op, and when he’s on his back, he rocks really hard to one side. Wants so badly to flip to his tummy! Has really great head control and can sit unassisted for up to 20-30 seconds!

He also went through his first hurricane. We are still in Houston, so we were here throughout Hurricane Harvey and it was pretty intense here for a little bit. 

Medical Milestones: He had his Glenn on September 7! This was his second open heart surgery. Post op recovery is going well! He was extubated the day after surgery and has been on room air since then. We have been working on getting back up to full feeds so that he can get off tpn and lipids and hopefully go home! His reflux is back with a vengeance so we’re trying to work around that. He is still on lovenox shots, clonidine, a diuretic, reflux meds, diazepam, and methadone for opiod withdrawals, but we are actively weaning methadone. They turned milrinone off a few days post op. So far, labs look good and indicate a successful Glenn! 

Currently satting in the high 70’s to mid 80’s, heartrate is 120-150, blood pressure is usually 90s/40s. 

Likes:

  • Being held / rocked / snuggled
  • Mamaroo
  • Watching videos of sister 
  • Watching movies, really likes Sing 
  • Being tickled
  • Listening to Elvis 
  • When you blow kisses at him
  • The lights that reflect off his monitors
  • Warm bottles
  • Chewing on toys
  • Field trips out of the hospital room

Dislikes:

  • Diaper changes
  • Picc line dressing changes
  • Baths
  • Lovenox shots
  • Getting his blood pressure taken
  • Getting his temperature taken
  • Being listened to with the stethoscope
  • Pretty much anything hospital related anymore, haha
  • Pacifier
  • Being restrained in any way

Whew, another month down. 123 days in the hospital and 128 days in Houston.. we are so ready to go home. We basically missed the whole summer being down here with Huck and we’re ready to get out of here, get back to the country, and enjoy the fall. Even though our stay has been long, I couldn’t imagine how things would be if we were anywhere else but TCH. We’ve now seen what happens with babies that start out where we were supposed to start out (that’s a story for another day), so that alone makes us thankful to be here, but we are also so thankful for how so many people have taken what seems to be a special interest in our boy and our whole family. I’ll actually miss a LOT of people when we finally go home! 

Huck Inlow, you are so loved! I hope one day I can explain to you how much not only your daddy, sister, and I love you, but how much our entire community and family and friends and nurses and doctors and PCA’s and therapists and complete strangers love you. You have so many people supporting you and we have been shown so much kindness from all of those people. I hope you always know that kindness. And I hope you know how many people have rooted for you, prayed for you, and fought for you. You have love from and support from all over! 

Happy 4 months baby boy! We can’t wait to show you the world! 


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Huck’s Heart | The Grand Explanation 

I know I’ve been promising a video, but that has actually proven to be a little more complicated than I think I can take on right now, so I’m hoping this will help explain his anatomy and surgeries just as well. Also, disclaimer – I’m clearly not a doctor or a nurse, we’ve just learned as much as we can about Huck’s diagnosis and surgeries. If you are a doctor or a nurse and notice that I don’t have something quite right or maybe worded improperly, I apologize in advance! 🙂 The term “hypoplastic” will be used quite a bit. This just means “underdevelopment or incomplete development”. Okay, I’m done with the disclaimers. 

Huck was originally diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) when I was 22 weeks pregnant. This was diagnosed at UTMB. When we transferred care to Texas Children’s at around 33 weeks, it was later found that he actually didn’t have HLHS, but something similar. There’s a whole category of heart kids that are “single ventricle”, which includes hypoplastic left heart syndrome, hypoplastic right heart syndrome, and quite a few others. The common denominator is that all of these kids only have a single ventricle, and that most will require the same palliative three stage surgery series, but Huck’s heart is different in its own way; a rare combination of several different defects. For simplicity’s sake, you could say that his heart is fairly similar to hypoplastic left heart syndrome, but he has some other characteristics that make it different. 

So, I’ll take you back to anatomy class for starters. (Wishing I’d paid a lot more attention in college A&P these days!) A normal heart has two sides – a left side and a right side, made up of four chambers. The right side recieves deoxygenated blood “blue blood” from the body through two veins called the Inferior Vena Cava and the Superior Vena Cava. (Keep these two guys in mind for later.) The blue blood travels into the right atrium, down to the right ventricle through the tricuspid valve, and then is pumped into the lungs through the pulmonary artery. The blood is then oxygenated in the lungs to become red blood, and is pumped from the lungs into the left atrium, down to the left ventricle through the mitral valve, and then back out to body through the aorta and the aortic arch. 


First thing to address is that Huck only has a single ventricle, which means where a normal person has two lower chambers, he only has one, which is why, along with HLHS and HRHS kids, he essentially only has “half a heart”. He also has ventricular inversion, meaning his ventricles are swapped. His left ventricle is on the right and his right ventricle is on the left. But also, and this is where it gets a little complicated, add in that his “left sided” ventricle (which is actually his right ventricle) is hypoplastic. So he has what they call a “hypoplastic left-sided right ventricle”. 

He also has tricuspid atresia, which means his tricuspid valve never developed. (A little backstory – his tricuspid valve would have originally been on the right side of the heart, but with the ventricular inversion it ended up on left side with the “left-sided right ventricle”. The valves were actually what caught our fetal cardiologist’s attention, because she noticed that the mitral valve was on the wrong side of the heart, and then she realized that the characteristics of his single ventricle were more on par with a left ventricle but was on the right side. This led her down the line, hammering out each detail, until she pretty much diagnosed him prenatally spot on with what they determined after he was born. She’s a rockstar!)

So continuing on, he also has a hypoplastic aortic arch, also known as coarctation of the aorta, which means his aortic arch was severely underdeveloped. 

Then he has something called “congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries”, or CCTGA, which means his two main arteries are actually backwards and would normally be considered a defect in itself called transposition of the great arteries (TGA) but because of his ventricular inversion, his arteries are connected to the correct ventricles, making it “congenitally corrected”. 

He also had a very large Patent Ductus Arteriosus, or PDA. A ductus arteriosus is a blood vessel that, before birth, exists in the aortic arch that connects the aorta and the pulmonary artery. This is how a baby like Huck can survive in the womb. It provides a route of blood flow that would have otherwise been restricted by his anatomy. Within minutes or up to a few days after birth, the ductus arteriosis is supposed to close as part of the normal changes occurring in the baby’s circulation, unless a baby is given prostaglandin to keep it open. In Huck’s case, his was very large and would have most likely remained open (which is why it is referred to as a “patent” ductus arteriosis), but he was on prostaglandins just to be safe. His PDA was actually assisting his heart function by allowing systemic blood flow to the body, where as his hypoplastic arch would have restricted it. The PDA was removed during the arch reconstruction portion of his first surgery. 

And lastly, he had a moderately sized ventricular septal defect (VSD) and a small atrial septal defect (ASD). The two septal defects are something a lot of people have heard of, commonly referred to as a “hole in the heart”. This picture below is the closest I have found to Huck’s heart. It shows the ventricular inversion, the CCTGA, the hypoplastic left sided right ventricle, the tricuspid atresia, and both septal defects. It is only missing the hypoplastic arch, which is shown in the second picture.




So how does a heart with these defects survive?

In a normal heart, the basic path of blood is oygen poor (blue) blood flows into the heart from the body, out to the lungs, where it is oxygenated (red blood) and returned to the heart, and then sent back out to the body. Red blood and blue blood are kept seperate. Since Huck is missing some of the key components to make this work and some of his anatomy is swapped, his blood flow is different. You can follow this in the picture above – blue blood flows in from the body and into the right atrium, red blood comes in from the lungs and into the left atrium. At that point, because the left sided ventricle and tricuspid valve aren’t there to do their job, it forces the blood back over to the right side of the heart, and all of the blood goes into the same area and mixes to become “purple blood”. Then the mixed blood is pumped both out to the body and out to the lungs. Purple blood is okay but not ideal long term. 

So for Huck’s first surgery, which was a modified Norwood, they had to make a few changes to Huck’s heart so that his blood flow to and from the lungs was adequate, and the blood flow to and from his body was adequate. The Norwood is usually done as a bridge to get a baby big enough and stable enough to support the circulation of a Glenn (second stage). The main issue for Huck was that because he doesn’t have a working valve on the left side of his heart, the blood doesn’t have a way into the left sided ventricle, and therefore it doesn’t have a way into the aorta and back out to the body. His VSD could have been used to their advantage because it allowed blood flow into the very small left sided ventricle from the back side, and would have allowed blood a way into the aorta, but his VSD was considered to be moderate and they didn’t trust it to remain open and a proper source of blood flow. To alleviate this issue, they connected his two main arteries (using a “double barrel” DKS procedure) and added what’s called a “BT shunt” to help control the blood flow to the lungs. They also removed the PDA and reconstructed his aortic arch (previously hypoplastic) so that blood flow from the heart out to the body was not restricted anymore and didn’t require prostaglandins long term. And they cut a little more out of his atrial septal defect to allow blood to flow more freely from the left atrium to the right, giving him more of a “common atrium”. This picture shows hypoplastic left heart syndrome and a homograft patch instead of a DKS, but it’ll give you an idea of how they join the two arteries into one big artery and where they place the BT shunt. 

The end goal for a single ventricle (a completed Fontan circulation) is to eventually bypass the heart completely for oxygen poor blood from the body, which will then go straight to the lungs. Then the heart’s only responsibility will be to receive oxygen rich blood from the lungs and send it back out to the body. 

For the next step in the palliation series, Huck just had his second surgery at 3 months 25 days. This surgery was a bidirectional Glenn, and they basically removed the BT shunt and connected his Superior Vena Cava (SVC) straight to the pulmonary artery. This is the first step in bypassing the heart for oxygen poor blood to the lungs. So, in a normal heart, oxygen poor blood from both the upper and lower body would normally go into the right side of the heart, and out to the lungs to be oxygenated, pretty simple. But in a Glenn, which addresses the upper body’s blood flow, the oxygen poor blood from the upper body goes into the SVC like it should, but the SVC is now connected straight to the pulmonary artery, which bypasses the heart and goes straight to the lungs. From there it will receive oxygen from the lungs, and go from the lungs into the left atrium, over into the right atrium where it will meet with the oxygen poor blood still coming from the lower body, down to his right sided left ventricle and then back out to the body. So essentially, he’ll have less “purple” blood (red and blue blood mixing). Also, not a standard part of a Glenn, but his surgeon performed a “right pulmonary arterioplasty”, which placed a patch on his right pulmonary artery because it was mildly narrowed in one spot.

During the third surgery, the Fontan, which will happen at about 4 years old, they will go back in and do something similar to the Glenn, but at that time, they will connect the Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) straight to the pulmonary artery like they did with the SVC. This will complete the Fontan Circulation and bypass the heart for all oxygen poor blood from the body to go straight to the lungs. At that point, Huck will have the closest thing to “normal” blood flow (blue blood from the body to the lungs, red blood from the lungs to the heart and back out to the body) that his body can have with a single ventricle.

Will he ever be “cured”? 

The thing to remember with all of this is that for a single ventricle baby, there is not a “cure”. They call this a palliative fix. Palliative generally means “providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness with the goal being to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.” While they can’t reconstruct his entire heart or ever give him two ventricles, they can alleviate the problems associated with only having one ventricle and hopefully give him a long and happy life.

How long will he live?

Currently there are only people in their 30’s that have had this surgery series so there is really only data to that age, but our hope is that by the time Huck is in his 30’s, those people will be living well into their 60’s. In some cases, single ventricle babies end up needing a heart transplant and it’s even possible that some kids that have the whole 3 stage series still end up needing a transplant. That is something that will always be in the back of our minds. Huck’s single ventricle is doing all of the work, so there’s always a chance it could lose function and he could end up in heart failure. Huck does have a small advantage in that his single ventricle is a left, which is considered to be the “workhorse” of the two. He also has a small disadvantage in that his single ventricle has an area of “mildly depressed function”. We have been told it is very possibly for him to regain full function in his ventricle at some point post Glenn, just due the overall workload being reduced on the heart in comparison to a BT shunt circulation. But for factual sake and the statistical side of things, studies show that survival after the bidirectional Glenn and Fontan operations is nearly 90-95%. The mortality rate for single ventricles is usually highest between the Norwood and Glenn, what they call “interstage”. So when a baby makes it to their Glenn, it’s a big deal. Usually a pretty celebratory day around the CVICU! 

Will he have a normal life?

From our perspective, yes, we absolutely hope so. With that being said, living any part of your life in a hospital is not normal. Having 3+ open heart surgeries is not normal. Taking medication for the rest of your life is not normal. BUT we hope that Huck will be able to do anything he wants to do. Ability is individualized. It’s very possible that he will get out of breath a little easier, and pretty unlikely to participate in heavy contact sports (in protection of his sternum), but I have heard of many kids that play sports and have exceeded expectations. I posted a while back of a girl named Meghan Roswick, who is a 25 year old Fontan with HLHS that competed in gymnastics as a child and is a competitive skier now. It will all depend on him and how well his heart holds up. We plan to do all the normal things we would have done anyway – trips to the lake, playing chase around the house, family vacations, swimming lessons, preschool, normal school, just “life”.

It’s truly amazing what modern medicine can do now and we pray that it continues to progress. Texas Children’s has recently been ranked as #1 in the country for pediatric cardiology and heart surgery, so we feel confident that throughout Huck’s life, he’s in the best hands possible (we literally trust our surgeon with his life!) and they will do everything they can for our little boy. He is currently doing very well with his Glenn recovery but we are still working on crossing some things off the list before the “h word” is discussed. 

Huck Inlow | 3 Months


Stats: 

  • Birth – 3035 grams | 6 lbs 11 oz
  • 1 Month – 3950 grams | 8 lbs 11 oz
  • 2 Months – 4420 grams | 9 lbs 11 oz
  • 3 Months – 5620 grams | 12 lbs 6 oz | 62 cm

He is wearing size 2 diapers and mostly 3 month clothes, but a few of those are starting to get snug length wise. He basically just blew right through that size. 

Eating: Huck is currently eating 85-100 mls of breastmilk (roughly about 3 ounces, give or take a few mls) about every 3-4 hours. He was made NPO (nothing by mouth) for a week due to a bloody poopy diaper and that hindered his volume capacity a little but he’s finally doing a lot better.

Sleep: His daytime sleep is still fairly consistent. He’s normally sleeps until about 8 AM, gets a bottle, then meds, and lovenox about 9 AM, takes a shortish nap, gets his weight done, a bath, and lead sticker change, followed by another bottle and meds, then a really long nap from about 12-2/3. He’s usually awake and happy around 3 PM where he will eat/play/cat nap until around 5:30. He’s been eating less and sleeping more at night which the doctors and I are both good with. He’ll normally eat again about 9 PM, sleep a good stretch, eat again around 2-3 AM and sleep another good stretch. 

He still sleeps a lot in the mamaroo which helps his reflux a lot, but will also sleep pretty decent in his bed, in his “nest” that they make for him. 

Milestones:
He rolled belly to back for the first time and has had a few little laughs! He also sits up assisted and can control his head and body really well. 

Medical Milestones: Thankfully, nothing has changed majorly since 2 months. Currently still inpatient on the CVICU heart failure unit while we wait on our Glenn surgery. We will be here until then. He is on milrinone and clonidine + reflux medications + a twice daily diuretic. He is not on any respiratory support at the moment and taking all feeds by mouth. He is finally off tpn and lipids, but still getting therapeutic doses of lovenox for a blood clot in his picc line. The Glenn should be happening in the next few weeks! 

Likes:

  • Being held / rocked
  • The mamaroo
  • His playmat 
  • Anything with lights and sound
  • The bumbo chair 
  • Warm milk
  • Listening to Elvis (it seriously calms him down immediately)

Dislikes:

  • Diaper changes
  • Picc line dressing changes
  • Baths
  • Lovenox shots 
  • People messing with his feet

I can’t believe this little guy is already a quarter of a year old. It seems like it’s both flown by and crawled by. I love getting to know him and spending time with him and seeing him with his daddy and his sister. His next surgery should be very soon and if everything goes as planned, we should be home not too long after that. For the first time, all four of us will be together under one roof. I can’t hardly wait! ❤️



Whitlee Alyzabeth | My Big Girl

I haven’t posted much about our firstborn little love lately so I wanted to take some time to make a special post about our girl. Whitlee is 2 years and 8 months, and I am more in love with her than ever. She has truly handled our chaos with Huck so well and I couldn’t be more proud. Don’t get me wrong, she’s testing her limits with each and every person these days but I’m not 100% sure that’s not just her age in general. She has become such a social little girl and speaks to (almost) everyone she comes in contact with. I can’t help but think she’s making some of these people’s days.. there are so many that seem so sad where we’re at. 

She does something almost every day that either amazes me or has me in tears from laughing or usually both. Her perception and ability to retain information seriously blows. my. mind. I mentioned the bat colony here in Houston a couple of weeks ago and said something about going on a date. Then this past Saturday I asked if she wanted to go on a date with mama and daddy (said nothing about bats) and she said, “Yea! To go see the bats??” I was so shocked that she even remembered that. Nolan didn’t even know what she was talking about until I reminded him about the bat colony I’d mentioned. 

She absolutely loves her baby brother. She talks about him all the time and likes to pretend she’s his doctor when she visits him at the hospital. She listens to him with a stethoscope and then says, “okay, doing great!” It’s going to be such a change for her when he finally comes home because she doesn’t know that he doesn’t actually belong at the hospital forever. I think it’s going to be the sweetest / most trying / most rewarding thing ever to have both kiddos under one roof finally. 

I honestly can’t believe how independent she’s become over the last 4 months or so. It was like Huck was born and she suddenly became a little girl and not a baby at all anymore. And she’ll tell you real quick “I not a baby! I a big girl!” She sleeps all by herself in a big girl bed both at home and in the travel trailer we’re living in temporarily. She’s fully potty trained except for bedtime and does so good at telling us when she needs to go. 

I wish I could write down everything she does and says and convey the hilariousness of this child because whether it’s dancing in her extra big tshirt saying “I’m a princess!” or doing pretend voices or telling me her own bedtime stories, she is so full of life! Her latest special thing is hugging me and saying, “I really like you, mama.” Lord, help me remember that when she’s 13 and thinks she hates me because I permed her hair after she begged me to and ends up with “worm hair”… 😉

All of this being said, I hate that our family is so split up and I miss her with everything I have when I’m away from her. I think that’s been my biggest struggle so far; truly wanting to be in two places at one time. I try to make sure I take Saturday afternoons off from the hospital and spend quality time with her and Nolan, just the three of us – we go on Whitlee dates. Sometimes it’s just swimming at the RV park and sometimes it’s dinner out and watching thousands of bats fly out from under a bridge at sunset. 

One day I hope she reads this and knows how much her daddy and I love her with all of our hearts. That her brother wasn’t ever a replacement or that he was more important than her, but we wanted her to have a best friend for life in him and unfortunately he just ended up needing a little extra help and attention in his first few months. I hope she knows how absolutely proud of her we are and that we think she’s the bravest and smartest little girl ever. And that one hug from her makes everything okay again for me. I hope she knows I cry for her sometimes when she’s away from me because I wish I could have both my babies with me 24/7. But I hope she knows she’s made all of this just a tiny bit easier for me with the fact that she’s been so flexible. I like not having to worry if she’s having fun or being taken care of. And that every time she tells me she loves me, I know she was sent here by God to take extra special care of her mama. 

Whitlee Alyzabeth, you are loved in a way that no words will ever explain and I hope you never forget it. You will always be my baby girl. 

Huck Inlow | Two Months


Stats: Well Huck was born at 3035 grams which converts to 6 lbs 11 oz and was 3950 grams at one month which converts to 8 lbs 11 oz and now we’re sitting at 4420 grams which converts to 9 lbs 11 oz. So he gained two pounds exactly in his first month and one pound exactly in his second month. This is great because he needs to be at least a certain weight before his next surgery. Hoping he gains at least a pound a month! (But since it has taken me a few days to post this, he’s already crossed over 10 lbs!)

He is wearing size 1 diapers and just outgrew the last of his newborn clothes. Which caught me a little off guard and I realized all of the clothes we brought with us are newborn! Had to go buy a few new outfits because they want him wearing clothes now. 

Eating: Huck is currently eating 50-60 ml of regular breastmilk at each feed, typically about every 3 hours. This amount is down a bit from 1 month due to some significant reflux issues. He’s slowly working his way back up though. In the past few days he has taken his old normal of 75-80 a couple of times. 

I’m still exclusively pumping for him, still hating it, still sticking it out. 10 months to go. 😝

Sleep: His daytime sleep has gotten pretty consistent. He’s normally awake for an hour and is happy and playing, then naps for two hours. We’re still working on a night time schedule but last night he was awake and upset on and off from pretty much 6 pm to 11 pm and then he slept from midnight to 4 am, ate a bottle and got a picc line dressing change, then slept again from about 5 to 9 before he was ready to eat again. He sleeps mostly in the mamaroo now which helps his reflux a lot. 

Milestones: We started tummy time! He got the all clear at 6 weeks post op and we started giving it a go. He doesn’t love it but he at least tolerates it for a short bit before he’s over it. He actually prefers to do it more on my chest than on the bed. 

We’ve gotten lots of real smiles! And he’s been cooing at me a lot lately. 



Medical Milestones: Currently still inpatient on the CVICU heart failure unit while we wait on our Glenn surgery. We will be here until then. He is on milrinone and clonidine + reflux medications + a couple of diuretics. He is not on any respiratory support at the moment and taking all feeds by mouth. He is still getting a little background nutrition help from tpn and lipids, and getting therapeutic doses of lovenox for a blood clot in his picc line. The Glenn is tentatively scheduled for 4 months old on September 13 but they will start discussing options at 3 months and 5kg weight. 

Likes:

  • Being held
  • Mamaroo
  • Laying on his back and looking around
  • Anything with lights and sound (I’ve been letting him watch newborn stimulation videos on YouTube and he loves it)
  • Warm milk

Dislikes:

  • Diaper changes
  • Picc line dressing changes
  • Taking his medicine
  • Baths
  • Lovenox shots

We are so in love with this little guy and can’t wait to get him home. He is developing such a cute little personality and I’m so amazed at how well he’s handling being in the hospital. I guess he doesn’t know any different, but with as much stuff is hooked up to him, he really doesn’t seem to mind it much. I spend my days just hanging out with him all day, trying to have as close to a normal experience as I can with him. His doctors tells us all the time that life after the Glenn will be so much better and I’m starting to get anxious for that. Almost there!

Happy two months, sweet baby Huck! Mama, daddy, and Whitlee love you so much!! 

Huck Inlow | One Month

Our sweet little Huck was one month old on June 13 but as usual I’m a bit behind. When comparing to Whitlee’s one month update, this one will be a little different since he’s in the hospital still but I want to document his milestones, nonetheless. 

Stats: Hospitals go by grams, but I’ll translate. Huck was born at 3035 grams which converts to 6 lbs 11 oz and is now up to 3950 grams which converts to 8 lbs 11 oz. So he’s up two whole pounds! This is amazing for a heart baby and the fact that he didn’t get to eat anything until he was several days old, and has been intubated twice more inside his first month and was held on feeds during those times. (Has technically been intubated 4 times now – once for surgery, twice afterwards, one more inside the second month.)

Eating: Huck is currently eating 80 to 100 ml (2.7 to 3.3 oz) of regular breastmilk at each feed, typically about every 3 hours. Sometimes a little sooner, sometimes a little later. His doctors have him listed as “ad lib” which means he can eat whenever he is hungry as opposed to scheduled feeds. 

[Side Note – I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but Huck actually participated in a research study when they first started feeding him. I’ll try to sum it up quickly but basically a company called Prolacta created a human milk based fortifier from pasteurized donor milk and by using that fortifier instead of a milk based or amino acid based formula fortifier, they have been able to reduce the percentage of NEC (necrotizing enterocolitis) in NICUs around the country from 10-12% down to 2%. Fortifiers are used in babies that have low birth weight or have had delayed feeds for some reason, so someone had the idea of using the same fortifier in heart babies as well, since they have delayed feeds or decreased volume due to surgery and/or the overload on their hearts. They’re currently in the study phase of that idea, comparing babies that have the human milk fortifier vs a formula fortifier to see if they tolerate feeds better, have reduced NEC, and have improved growth or development. Here’s a link if you’re interested in reading more.]

Anyway, so how this worked for us is that when they started feeds, we knew Huck would get a fortified version of my breastmilk. By participating in the study, we did not know if he would get the human milk fortifier or the amino acid based formula fortifier that TCH uses as their standard care, it’s all a secret to protect the integrity of the study. We will eventually know which arm of the study he was on when the study concludes in 18 months. When we were supposed to go home, they had to transition him off of whichever secret “study milk” he was on, to be solely on my breastmilk with a known amino acid based formula fortifier. Well he rejected every single bottle that was not labeled “study milk”. I have no proof, but you can probably guess where I’m going with this. So we tried a different amino acid based fortifier and he did a tiny bit better, but it was still a struggle. Then he coded, was intubated again, and when he was extubated, he would barely eat at all. Like we fought to get him to take 20-25 mls. There was talk of putting an ng tube back in, there was suspicion that he was having major reflux issues, maybe tube irritation from intubation, we just weren’t sure. All we knew was he wouldn’t eat and it was so important for him to eat and gain weight. One day, while I was pumping, his intensivist and a cardiology fellow were in the room and we were discussing the feeding issue and they suggested that whatever I just pumped, let’s give him that and see what happens, so just straight breastmilk. We started slow with half a bottle but he downed 30 mls in about 5 minutes, then took another 30 without batting an eye. The next feed, he took about 70. And the next, I think was 77. And he’s ate wonderfully ever since then. They decided as long as he gained weight, he didn’t need the fortifier. So far, so good! 

I’m exclusively pumping for him like I did for Whitlee, but with Whitlee I had an oversupply which led to 3 rounds of mastitis. I purposely decreased my supply this time to hopefully match more of what he would eat at his max point. I loathe pumping but since he apparently wont eat anything else, I have to stick it out. 

Sleep: He sleeps pretty well for the most part. When we were on the inpatient cardiac floor, I could stay every night with him and he would eat and usually go right back to sleep. He normally has one or two periods where he’s awake for about an hour and looks around a lot but he still snoozes quite a bit. 

Milestones: Because of his surgery, tummy time is delayed until 6 weeks but when he lays on my chest, he picks his head up and looks around. 

He loves to look at faces. He has an intense stare and can track really well with his eyes. He’s been tracking since just a few days old. 

He also furrows his eyebrows a lot and is very strong. A lot of his nurses call him “the hulk” instead of Huck. 

We’ve gotten lots of smiles. Still questionable if they’re real smiles or not, but they’re appropriate for when he seems happy, so I’ll take it. 

Medical Milestones: He had his first open heart surgery on May 16 at 3 days old, a double barrel DKS Norwood with BT shunt. Also taking full feeds by mouth and normally isn’t on any respiratory support. (He’s currently intubated while I’m typing this post.)

Likes:

  • Being held
  • Rocking and bouncing
  • Watching the mobile
  • When we talk to him 
  • His pacifier 
  • Holding hands with his nurses when they do his EKG’s
  • Having one arm next to his face
  • Oral care

Dislikes:

  • Diaper changes
  • Waiting on a bottle
  • Getting an echo done
  • When they hold his arm still during blood draws. He doesn’t cry when they stick him, only when they restrain his arm. 
  • Being swaddled with both arms in

I posted his one month picture on my instagram and the Huck’s Heart Facebook and said that I never expected when we decided to have a second baby that this is what our life would look like, that I’d be taking his monthly pictures in a hospital room but here we are. I’ve been asked quite a few times how I’m holding it together and if I’m being honest, everyone sees the public version of me. I’m not perfect and I have fallen apart a few times in private, but then I’m reminded that our baby boy is alive. No matter how scary it gets, or how hard this is, or what curveball we get thrown each day, he’s alive. And we will continue to fight right alongside our little guy for every day that he continues to fight too. ❤️ 

Baby Hillin #2 | 27 Weeks 



How Far Along: 27 Weeks – hello 3rd trimester! 

Baby is the size of a(n):  cauliflower 

Gender: It’s a Boy!

Weight Gain: I had planned to weigh at home but apparently my scale’s batteries died… so I’ll guess around 30ish? I’ll update next week when I go for my glucose test. 

*Update, I was dead on. Up 30 lbs at 27 weeks, 5 days. 

Belly Button In or Out: Flatter by the day, still not out. With Whitlee I think one corner popped out but never the whole thing. 

Wedding Rings On or Off: On 

Sleep: Around 25 weeks I started sleeping really poorly, so I stopped napping when Whitlee naps and I started sleeping better again. But then I started getting so tired during the day and gave in to a few naps and still managed to sleep super hard at night. I think I’m just finally sleeping decent and I’m super thankful for that. 

Best Moment The Last Few Weeks: Finally starting to figure out a bit more on doctors and surgeons and hospitals. We have a lot of things to consider and it’s a tough call to make when your baby’s life is at stake but we’re trusting things will come together as they should. 

Anndd a friend of my dads donated the lumber for my dad to build Huck’s changing table. I can’t wait to see it done and we are (again) so thankful for how generous everyone is being. 

Miss Anything: being able to bend over.. whew!

Movement: Starting to feel him up high a lot more often and a few times have felt something pushing out in my upper right belly. Growth scan at 26 weeks showed that was his little booty. His feet are up high on my left and he’s head down right now. Getting more and more active by the day. It’s still my most favorite part.

Cravings/Aversions: I’ve been craving carb-y sweets like pop tarts, Sonic cinnasnacks, Little Debbie cakes. 

Symptoms: Braxton Hicks are a bit more calm these days but the SPD pain is for sure sticking around, some days worse than others. Starting to notice just a slight feeling of swelling in my ankles when my feet dangle for a long period of time, like driving or sitting on the swing outside, but nothing major. Elevating them helps immediately. Blood pressure is doing really well, still on the lowest dose of my BP meds. Slight bit of heartburn starting to pop up now and then. And does anyone else’s voice get hoarse during pregnancy? I’ve been sounding like I’m getting over a cold for a long time now. 

Additional Notes: Like I mentioned before, we’ve been trying to get a lot of details ironed out for delivery and his surgeries and I plan to do a HLHS update post soon but for now, I’ll leave it that the main thing is still to just stay pregnant as close to full term as possible and to take it easy. So I’ve tried to focus on getting everything at home ready for when he does get to come home. Nolan and I are even planning to deep clean the house soon. My sister in law says she thinks I’m nesting already… very possible. 

Which leads me to – Huck’s nursery is almost ready! Even though he won’t be using it for a long while, it makes me feel a sense of normalcy to be working on his room. When he does come home, we’ll have him set up in our room until after his second surgery, at the least. He’ll most likely need certain care throughout the night so to keep Miss Whitlee as close to her normal schedule as possible, we’ll be trying to make sure we keep her asleep in her room while tending to Huck in our room. 

12 weeks to go! (12! That seems so soon) My personal goal is 34 weeks (April 12th) and then after that, I’ll be celebrating each week that we keep this baby boy baking. 

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