Huck’s Heart | Two Weeks Post-Op

Huck was two weeks post op on Tuesday evening, so I thought I’d do a comprehensive post on where we’re at, how he’s doing, how we’re all feeling about things. I normally do a postpartum update for myself but it seems my blog has been getting a little more traffic than normal so I’ll spare the talk about my after birth pains and perineal stitches. (Which have subsided and all is well in that department if you’re interested.)

We are so happy to report that everything has been going really well. It’s been such a blessing to have him progress each day. At one week, we were down to one central line left (a neo picc) that he is currently getting one single IV medicine through. He started with two umbilical artery lines plus three additional artery lines – one in his groin area, one in his wrist, and one in his ankle but they’ve taken them all out one by one. And he finally got his chest drainage tube out late last week!

As far as feeding, they started feeding him milk through an NG tube a few days after surgery to make sure his tummy could tolerate it and then they had occupational therapy come work with him on taking a bottle. A lot of heart babies will have feeding issues because there was a delay in feeding, because they developed an oral aversion from intubation, or sometimes because there was temporary damage to the nerves that control swallowing. In Huck’s case, he is doing exceptionally well (doctor’s words) and making beautiful progress (also doctor’s words). By day 3, he was already attempting bottle #5 and was taking about half of it before he exceeded the time limit and they put the rest in his tube. At 14 days post op, he was taking all feeds by mouth and was up to 50 ml. On day 15, he pulled his ng tube halfway out on his own and they let him leave it out. And then on Wednesday this week they gave the green light for him to start trying to breastfeed. The timing was terrible though so he was a little too sleepy after 7 attempts earlier in the day at a blood draw (s e v e n!!), but we tried again the next day and he did really well. Eventually I’d love to just breastfeed him for convenience but we may be alternating fortified breastmilk by bottle with actual breastfeeding. 

Back to it – so late last week the single ventricle team in the CVICU started their checklist of items to approve him to leave and go to what they call their step-down unit. Then on Tuesday, at 2 weeks post op, they gave the all clear. We are officially out of the ICU!

In the step down, Huck has his own room and this is basically treated as his transition before going home. I’m actually staying in the hospital with him and learning all of his care and more about his temperment so that we know more about how he tolerates things and how he normally acts. I have actually done all of his feedings, diapers, comforting, and oral meds by myself for the last three days, aside from earlier today when I had to run and take care of some stuff in preparation for us leaving the hospital. 

As for going “home”, a lot of it will be dependent on him and how well he progresses with weight gain and taking his feeds by bottle in a timely manner. That, plus straightening out a few arrhythmia issues is our current hurdle but that part is kind of trial and error, treat and wait to see if it’s fixed. But I always say “home” because in our case with him having a Norwood surgery, they’re 99.9% sure he will not go home home until after his second surgery, which is scheduled for mid September. They want us to remain close for what they call the “interstage” period, the time between the Norwood and Glenn surgeries. But they have talked more and more about us leaving the hospital the past few days. They also needed to take him off one more of his medicines, which they did two days ago, and then decrease and transition the last IV medicine to oral, which they did yesterday. He also has to continue to gain weight and not have any other hiccups, but they are tentatively planning for us to go home early next week. Fingers crossed!!

A lot of people have asked how we’re doing and I can say for the most part, we’re okay. We are deeply thankful for how well he’s doing and the progress he’s made every day. But I still have days where it’s hard. Every time we change the new routine, I have an adjustment period in my emotions. Nolan went back to work, I cried. We switched to the step down unit, I cried. I’m sure when we finally get to go home, I’ll cry (although that time may be more from relief). I don’t really do any of that in front of people though.. I tend to have my breakdowns in private, thank God. Just don’t ask me if I’m okay lol.. you have about a 50/50 chance of my eyes filling up with tears before I can answer. I sort of just get a little overwhelmed occasionally until we adjust our sails and move forward with whatever new normal we’ve been given. I think one of the hardest parts is navigating how to be the best mom I can be to both kids. Whitlee came down with a mystery virus last week and thankfully she was at my moms house and we weren’t exposed to it. But we had to leave her with my mom and then my in-laws until she was symptom and fever free for a considerable amount of time before she could come back. I hated not being able to snuggle her while she was sick but we have to be extra extra careful right now; a common cold or stomach bug could be life threateningly dangerous for Huck. Thankfully she came back to Houston a couple of days ago and I am so happy to have both kiddos in one place again. 

So now we’re just learning how to take care of our special little boy and learning his habits so we know what’s normal for him and what’s not. We’re getting a lot of education the rest of the week in preparation and we’re just praying he stays on the right path to get to go home soon! 


Baby Hillin #2 | 33 Weeks 

How Far Along: 33 Weeks

Baby is the size of a(n): pineapple or a head of cauliflower 

Gender: It’s a Boy!

Weight Gain: up to 34 lbs

Belly Button In or Out: Still mostly flat at this point.. it kind of pops out when I laugh or cough. 

Wedding Rings On or Off: On, so crazy to me. I had taken them off long ago with Whitlee at this point. 

Sleep: Give me alllll the sleep. I have been so tired lately. I guess that’s just part of the last bit of pregnancy. I can take a nap just about every day and still be dying to go to sleep at 8 PM. 

Best Moment The Last Few Weeks: Getting good news at our 32 week follow up echo on Huck’s heart. They were able to see a little bit more growth than they did at 22 weeks. This basically means that he may not be as “sick” when he’s born and his first surgery may not be as urgent as thought before. He will still have 2-3 open heart surgeries but the timing of those may have shifted a bit; he may be able to wait a couple of weeks vs a few days. I don’t think we’ll know anything more than this until he’s born and he gets an echo straight on him, as opposed to through me. Full update coming soon hopefully.. we’re still trying to work out a few insurance issues. 

Miss Anything: being able to breathe well. Everything is starting to get super crowded in there. When I sit down I have to give him a few seconds to kind of maneuver around to where I’m not in pain. 

Movement: Still my most favorite part. With Whitlee, I didn’t really miss being pregnant specifically, but I definitely missed feeling her move in there. I’m sure I’ll miss it again. He’s been in the same position for a good while, head down with his back and butt more on my right side and his feet out over on my left. He likes to do this thing where he arches his back or pushes his butt out on my right and kick his feet out on my left. And then sometimes he’s just thrashing around in there making my whole belly jump. 

Cravings/Aversions: Finally ate some crawfish so that craving was satisfied. I felt really puffy afterwards, I’m sure from the insane amount of sodium, but they were so good. Haven’t really been craving anything specifically but the local state fair is going on the next couple of weeks and I KNOW I’ll be craving funnel cake or something deep fried.. most likely will only get a small bite of someone else’s though. Thank you GD. 😑

Symptoms: Needing to pee every 2 minutes is a symptom right? Anytime I stand up, it’s like gravity and the weight of this large kiddo hit me and I have to go right. freaking. now. 

Additional Notes: My pregnancy this time around has been SO different than it was with Whitlee. I still feel overall just “better” than I did with her and I’m sure it was the preeclampsia. My blood pressure is still holding stable and I’m still on the lowest dose of bp meds. No protein in my urine so far. And my feet, hands, and face have resisted much swelling. For reference, this is my foot at 32 weeks with Whitlee and my foot at 32 weeks with Huck. Crazy! 

My wedding rings are still on and I keep saying I think it might be time to take them off but then the next day I can get them on and off just fine. I read on one of my apps that fluid retention is about to increase so I’ll probably take them off in the next week or two just to be safe. 

My gestational diabetes is somewhat under control. My fasting number is being treated with a single insulin shot at night but we haven’t quite hit the sweet spot of the right amount of insulin to lower it enough. We’re bumping it a little at a time but hopefully we’ll find the right dosage soon. 

My personal soft goal for this pregnancy was 34 weeks, which is next Wednesday. I feel like we’re going to breeze right by that, which I am so so thankful for!! My next goal after that is 37 weeks. And then just two more weeks. My normal OB’s office has a growth scan scheduled for next week, just shy of 34 weeks but I’m not sure I’ll still be under their care next week. I may have already had my “transfer of care” by then to the Maternal Fetal Medicine that I’ll see the rest of my pregnancy and that will deliver Huck. My normal OB did go ahead and start bi-weekly non stress tests where I just sit on the monitors for 20 minutes, then if there is anything out of the ordinary they do a biophysical profile ultrasound, then if he doesn’t pass that, we go to the hospital for monitoring. So far we’ve had one perfect nst, and two that landed us a biophysical profile, which thankfully he passed both perfectly. Both times the nst showed a dip in his heart rate (just a tiny one.. I saw it when it happened) and they said sometimes the baby will move and lose contact with the monitor which reads as a decel but they’re usually fine. They just have to do the ultrasound to be sure. I know for sure on the second one, the monitor wasn’t on him just right and every time he moved, the monitor would lose contact and regain it, making the readout sheet look like Morse code. 

So here we are, a week shy of my first goal (34 weeks) and feeling good! Only 6 more weeks to go. I’m curious to see how soon they’ll put our delivery on the books after we do the transfer of care. I kind of think it’s close enough, we may go ahead and get a tentative date. Then we just cross our fingers and pray that we make it to that date!