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. ❤️ 

Huck’s Heart | Update

We have decided to start a Facebook page so that more people can keep up with our sweet baby boy. It’s under Huck’s Heart and this is the link – https://m.facebook.com/hucksheart/

We have also decided to do shirts in honor of him. They will run from now until June 25, then they will ship direct to you from Bonfire. https://www.bonfire.com/hucks-heart/


This is was what was posted on our Facebook on Wednesday. The code happened at about 12:13 AM Wednesday morning. 

Last night our brave little guy took a slight turn for the worse. Yesterday, after all of the chaos from the night before, things had started to calm back down – they let him start eating again, and they had taken him off the ventilator down to an oxygen cannula, and then even down to room air by the afternoon. They wanted to monitor him in CVICU overnight before sending us back down to step down unit. This was blessing #1. Nolan and I fed him last night and got him settled for the evening and then we left to go get a little bit of sleep. About 12:30 AM my phone rang and they told me that Huck had started to code but they were able to catch it in time and they intubated him immediately. They said he was very sick, not quite sure what was going on, and that we needed to get there quickly. I think we made it there in less than 5 minutes. We found out later that basically what happened was that he got very mad and instead of his heart rate going up like it should and then coming back down to normal once he was calm, his heart rate just plummeted and his oxygen dropped dangerously low. They were able to avoid chest compressions because they were in the room when it happened and able to intubate so fast. Blessing #2. They were able to do an echo last night and ran extensive labs to check all of his other organ function and check for infection, but everything looked good and his heart and shunt are all functioning correctly. So currently their theory is that this “crash” was possibly related to one of his medicines. Thankfully they have him stable and although he’s still intubated, he’s breathing above it a little. And they have a plan to adjust his meds and get him “well” again. It’s so crazy to think we were supposed to go home yesterday and this crash would have happened our first night at home if they hadn’t caught the previous malfunction and if they hadn’t been in the room when it started to happen, we could have lost him. Blessings #3 and #4. Again, we are so thankful for where we are and the wonderful nurses and doctors at TCH. Please please continue to pray for our little love!

And this was posted Friday morning. 

Huck had a good calm day yesterday and a good calm night for the most part. He’s starting to wake up quite a bit which irritates him when he realizes he’s intubated. The problem they were having when he coded was that his heart rate wouldn’t accelerate properly and then normalize, it would just crash. So they made the decision yesterday to basically start from scratch. They took him off all of his blood pressure and arrhythmia medication and let his body reset. Throughout the night, he had a few times where he would get mad, but his heart rate actually went up and then back to “normal” like it should have, which is a great improvement! He also had his repeat echo this morning and they all agree that function looks great and has improved from the last echo that had landed him back in the CVICU to begin with. The plan for today is to extubate a little later today, after the echo is formally reviewed and they make sure the rest of the team agrees with the plan. They’re watching him super close while they keep him off the meds so they can see where he’ll settle out naturally after they extubate. This picture is from last night when Huck started to wake up more and he just stared at me and his daddy for the longest time. We are so happy to see his sweet face awake again!

Thank you so much to everyone for sharing and commenting on our page and for purchasing tshirts. I would love to be able to comment back to every one of you but I’m doing good just to get an update posted. 😊 Just know that we appreciate every prayer, every well wish, every thought! Huck’s army is the best!!

Huck’s Heart | Counting Chickens 


What you don’t see in these pictures – Huck basically hugging my hand with both of his hands, this momma losing her mind, sobbing uncontrollably over what might be happening, and the team of doctors flying around us setting up machines, placing lines, and making a lot of very fast paced decisions. 

Earlier this week, we started the discharge process with plans of getting to go home today (Wednesday). It’s basically the same situation with switching from CVICU to step down unit; they have a single ventricle checklist to make sure he’s ready to go which is really just a lot of testing, blood work, and regular baby milestones. When we left CVICU the first time, a week ago, one of the checklist items was an echo (an ultrasound of his heart if you’re new around here), which looked great, so off we went to our new digs. To get discharged, it’s a similar process – he had to gain weight appropriately, eat a certain percentage of his bottles, get an echo, get a brain MRI, get a chest X-ray, we had to get various education sessions, pass a car seat test, I mean really the list keeps going. But these items are in place for a reason and thankfully, Huck had his “go home” echo yesterday afternoon, just to make sure his heart was functioning okay. 

While we waited on the echo to be read, we proceeded with the next item on the list, his car seat test, which he passed! This is just a test where they make him sit in his car seat for two hours and make sure he won’t lose oxygen or stop breathing or anything strange. 

While he was getting car seat tested, Nolan went to get us some dinner from Cliff’s Grill. (Which I highly recommend if you’re in the Medical Center area. Their southwest burger is amazing!) We hadn’t even taken the first bite of food when suddenly, half of his single ventricle team came walking in the room. 

They explained somewhat quickly that between the last echo a week ago and the new echo, they noticed part of his single ventricle was not squeezing the way it should. They called it “mild to moderate”, with “severe” basically being heart failure. Thankfully it was noticed before the point of heart failure, and additionally all of his stats and monitoring were considered perfect and he acted completely normal and calm, which they said was all very confusing to them. They wanted to do a CT scan to figure out exactly what was going on. They thought there might be an issue with one of his coronary arteries which would have been indicated by the ventricle not squeezing properly. They explained that for the CT scan, they had to do a breath hold to get the perfect picture, which means he had to be reintubated so that they could manually make him hold his breath. To do all of that, he would also need to be sedated, so via standard protocol, they called in the rapid response team to transport him back to the CVICU. 

At that point, we were told a broad spectrum of what to expect – this could end up being nothing, if there was something wrong with the artery, they could possibly do a catheter procedure to fix it, if there is a major problem (which they did say was unlikely based on his appearance, stats and behavior), they’ll have to take him back into surgery, open him up and fix it. We knew in the back of our minds that he could also crash at any time during this process if there was truly something wrong. So I stayed with him the whole time – while they transported him, sedated him, intubated him and took him for his CT scan. I will truly know this kiddo inside and out before he’s even a month old. 

The CT scan was very quick. Apparently TCH has a top of the line CT machine and people come from all over the world to use it because it captures things in mere seconds. Huck’s entire heart function was captured in less than 5 seconds. They told me in the CT room that the radiologist was at home but waiting on our scans to come through and would read them asap and get back to us within an hour or so. 

About 15 minutes after we got back in the radiologist called and said his CT was perfect! Our baby boy has pulled out the stops once again! I cried for the hundredth time that evening, so thankful that he was okay. They extubated him late last night when the sedation started to wear off and he was put back on an oxygen cannula for the time being. He is doing well right now, a little grumpy and uncomfortable but I’m hoping he’s back to his normal sweet self very soon. 

We are incredibly thankful for the team of people at TCH that double check and triple check before sending you on your way and for our surgeon and his team who are absolute angels for saving our baby boy’s life. My sweet husband also deserves some recognition for being my rock through all of our tough times. He has taken on our wild Whitlee so that I can be with Huck right now and he’s managed to keep his sanity through all of it, while keeping me in the right mind set too. 


We’re currently waiting on the doctors to round so that we can find out exactly what they think they saw, why it’s okay now, and what the plan is going forward. This was a temporary setback in our journey home, but I can’t even tell you how relieved we are right now after a whirlwind emotional night. 

Huck’s Heart | Norwood Surgery

After we were able to get Huck here safe and sound and give his team of doctors time to come together on his condition, they were finally able to map out the anatomy of his heart well enough to make a plan. We originally thought he had hypoplastic left heart syndrome but after we transferred care to Texas Children’s they found it was not HLHS, but a rare combination of several different defects. He actually has coarctation of the aorta, l-looped ventricles, tricuspid artesia, congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries, atrial septal defect, ventricular septal defect and a severely hypoplastic left sided right ventricle. For any normal person, these are all crazy to understand but heart parents/families will probably get some of them. But basically he is a single ventricle baby and his blood flow was restricted in a way similar to HLHS babies and requires the same series of surgeries – the Norwood, the Glenn, and the Fontan. They thought maaayybe if his VSD was large enough and his arch wasn’t a problem, then he might get to skip the first surgery and just do a Glenn and Fontan but both ended up being too small so he definitely needed surgery within a few days. 

Huck was scheduled for surgery Tuesday, May 16, 2017 at 7:15 AM at 3 days old. We got to the hospital early that morning and they let us both hold him a while before they came in and got started. He had a great, restful night the night before and slept the whole time we were holding him. 

They took him back about 7:30 and we waited in the CVICU waiting room. They came and gave us updates about every hour and a half and it was so comforting to see that door open and Kim (our point person for the day) smile and say, “Everything is going great.” The she would tell us where they were at in the surgery and how he was doing. 

About 4:00 PM they came back and said they were done with all of the repairs and he did great. They were about to start warming him back up and try to bring him off bypass. We knew there was a risk of him not coming off bypass immediately and going on ECMO (a longer term bypass machine) so we were anxious for that next update. Around 5:30, we got the update that he was off bypass, his newly repaired heart was beating on its own again, and they were about to close him up. Such great news! Then about 6:00 PM, we got the post op update from our amazing surgeon. He drew us a picture of what exactly they did, which was a Norwood with BT shunt and a arch repair with coarctectomy. He told us he did really well and there were no complications. 

We got to go see him about 7:30 and he actually looked good for what I was expecting. We’re so proud of our little guy and how well he did. 

Below this part are some pictures of him so if you’re unsure you want to see, I’d skip past this part. He is hooked up to a lot of machines and it looks a lot scarier than it is but a lot of is precautionary. He has multiple monitors, catheters, and iv lines and is on a ventilator but they’re already talking about taking him off the vent tomorrow. 


Recovery is going really well and they’re already turning down some of his meds to let him start waking up occasionally. I’m actually typing this less than 24 hours post surgery and he opened his eyes for the first time earlier this afternoon while we were there. He looked sleepy but I was so happy to see his little face awake again. 

Thank you again to everyone for their abundant prayers and thoughts. We feel so blessed to have such an army behind us praying for our baby boy! 

#hucksheart #heartofawarrior

Huck Inlow | Birth Story


I feel like Huck’s birth story starts where Whitlee’s left off. You can read her birth story here but the gist of it is that I was diagnosed with preeclampsia at 34 weeks with her and my doctor decided she was safer out than in so we did an emergency cesarean with her. When we decided to have another baby, I had a pre-pregnancy consultation with my new OB and he advised us to absolutely pursue another baby and that while I did have one or two risk factors for having preeclampsia a second time, I didn’t have all of them. At that time we also discussed the possibility of a VBAC. In Beaumont, at the hospital where we would deliver, there are a handful of doctors that share on call duties. So while my OB was considered “the VBAC guy”, he said one of his requirements was that I go into labor spontaneously because he had no record to go on of how I would react to an induction. He wouldn’t induce for a VBAC unless I’d been previously induced or had a previous spontaneous labor. And on that note, promising to support a VBAC with spontaneous labor would put me at risk for showing up at the hospital with a 1/5 chance of him being there and a 4/5 chance of having a doctor that did not support my birth plan. So at that point, we agreed to a repeat cesarean and I felt peace knowing that it would be scheduled and we would know what to expect. 

When we actually got pregnant with Huck, we went into it knowing he’d be born via repeat c section and it would most likely be scheduled and hopefully be full term. But then we found out about his heart defect, we had to transfer care to the facility where he would have his treatment. During my first visit with my new doctor, a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist, we discussed my plans for delivery. At which point she casually asked “so for delivery, would you like a repeat c section or would you like to tolac?” I asked what was best for our situation and she very matter of fact laid out the risks of both but then said a vaginal recovery would be better and faster for me and would also be beneficial to Huck’s lung function. So we went down the path in pursuit a tolac/hopeful vbac. She said that spontaneous labor would be best but that depending on my blood pressure staying stable throughout the pregnancy so that we could make it to the point where my cervical conditions were favorable, she was not opposed to inducing. 

All throughout my pregnancy I have been on a low dose blood pressure medication because around 8 weeks it started creeping up. They labeled me as having “chronic hypertension” but my blood presssures have been really great since being on the medicine. Towards the end of my pregnancy, they’ve had me check it twice a day and keep a log. And they’ve continued to be excellent, as well as no signs of preeclampsia- no swelling, no vision changes, no excessive weight gain, no weird headaches, no protein in my urine. From here it will be a timeline to show how this all happened. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017 | 7:30 PM – At 38 weeks, I checked my pressure for my log that afternoon and it was a little high. I rested, checked it again and it was much better. So I kept resting and decided to check it again later to make sure it stayed down, but it was actually back up again. I called my nurses line and the advised me to go get checked at L&D. While there they hooked me up to the monitors and checked blood pressure, which was high and it didn’t take long before they decided to keep me and induce. I started calling Nolan and my family but after a good while of monitoring, the doctor on call came back in and said my blood pressure was a lot better and they were actually going to send me home. What a rollercoaster! I called everyone back and told them it was a false alarm.  

Friday, May 12, 2017 | 8:00 AM – Whitlee and I went to what would have been my last appointments anyway since they were planning to induce next week, but my blood pressure was high again. We went through all of the normal appointment stuff but my doctor ended with, we ARE going to go ahead and induce today. She said their standard care for chronic hypertension is to deliver at 38 weeks, but since mine had been so great she was willing to go to 39. She also said at this point, it was possible that if I stayed pregnant, I could end up with preeclampsia in the next week. 

9:30 AM – She told me to go get my stuff from the apartment in Houston and to be back around 11 to start the induction. I called Nolan and the rest of our family so they could all head that way. 

11:15 AM – Whitlee and I got to hospital to get checked in for the induction process to start. Unfortunately, May is apparently a busy month for babies so they were extremely backed up in labor and delivery and we had to wait F O R E V E R for a room. Like 10 hours. 

9:00 PM – We finally got moved to a labor and delivery room to get set up. After that, it seemed like things went fairly quick for the most part. At this point I was dilated on my own to a 1, maaaaybe a 2 and 50% effaced but Huck was still really high at a -3 station. 

10:40 PM – They decided to start with a Cook Balloon which they insert into the cervix and inflate one small balloon inside the uterus and one small balloon outside the uterus with a middle section meant to dilate the cervix manually. They said we would leave it in for 12 hours, then take it out and from there I would either be dilated to a 4 or 5. The balloon going in hurt. like. hell. Oh man, it hurt. 

12:00 AM (Midnight) – They warned me I could feel some strong cramping and then it was possible that the balloon would intensify the prodromal labor contractions that I’d already been having. Well it did and they started coming super strong and I puked during a particularly hard one. It was at that point that I honestly started questioning this whole vbac thing. I ended up getting two Benadryl to help me sleep and nubane in my IV for pain. The nubane didn’t do much for the pain of the contractions but it did help me sleep between them. So basically I was already having to work through the contractions. They were super strong and I couldn’t talk through them but never very consistent. Some were 4 min apart, some 6, some 12 but all lasting about minute and a half to 2 minutes. 

May 13, 2017 | 8:30 AM – The residents for the day came in and said I’d get the balloon out in a couple of hours, then we’d start low dose pitocin, check to see how low Huck was at that point and if he was low enough, they’d break my water. I went ahead and requested an epidural before all of that business. I’ve heard from several people to get. the. freaking. epidural. I was told pitocin contractions plus no amniotic fluid for cushioning after they break my water is no joke. 

11:00 AM – They took the balloon out and checked me. It did its job! I was dilated to 5, and 60% effaced, but Huck was still at -3 station, so they were going to wait on breaking my water. 

1:00 PM – Anesthesia came in to place my epidural, while my nurse (who was absolutely the most amazing labor and delivery nurse ever) got my pitocin set up. I didn’t care much for the epidural process. I was kind of scared of the pinching pain I’d felt suddenly when I had my c section so I kept having trouble not tensing up. But my nurse just talked me through it and we got it in. Once the epidural was in and I started going numb, I started feeling really bad and proceeded to puke again. I was actually pretty numb from about mid belly down so that was weird. When I puked, I felt like my stomach muscles were numb and almost like I would aspirate. After they started the pitocin, I was having contractions almost immediately and very regularly but I couldn’t feel them. General thoughts on epidurals –  they’re super weird and glorious. 

3:00 PM – Huck had a few heart decels so they came in and put me on an oxygen mask and checked me again and I was still a 5 and now 80% effaced, but he was at a -2 station. They decided to go ahead and break my water and see what would happen.  

4:30 PM – I was able to actually catch a nap between 3 and now and when I woke up I asked my mom if I was still having contractions. She said oh yea, definitely, so I got her to take a picture of the screen because it was above my head and I couldn’t see it. 


This is showing how fast and regularly the contractions were coming but if you look at the top section towards the end, you see Huck’s heart start to drop off. I actually heard this happening on the monitors and said “something’s wrong” and about 5 seconds later my nurse came running in and kicked everyone out except Nolan. She called for a resident and another nurse. They threw my bed back, flipped me to my other side, started pulling iv lines loose from their connectors (not like from my arm), and started massaging my belly a little. After about 5 minutes his heart rate recovered. They said that the contractions were basically drowning him and his heart rate wasn’t recovering like it should have between them. They decided to stop the pitocin and give him a break for a little bit. They also decided to put in an internal monitor to see how strong my contractions were and would start the pitocin again in 30 minutes. At that point, they said if that happened again, we’d go straight back for a c section. By this time it was almost 5:30 so they went ahead and checked me again and said I was still a 5 and 80% effaced, no change at all. But they asked some specific questions about how I was feeling and I told them I was starting to feel my contractions. I was kind of having to breathe through the pressure of them but I couldn’t really feel the pain of them. They said they’d check me again at 7:30 and see how things were going. I think that was the point that I said if I hadn’t changed by then at all, I was ready to talk about another c section. The heart decelerations scared me and I was so tired. I’d been stuck at a 5 for 7 hours or so and the problem I had with that is my body didn’t go to a 5 on its own, it was a mechanical dilation. So if I wasn’t progressing past that, then my body wasn’t doing its job. 

7:30 PM – The resident came back in to check me and I was fully expecting her to say “no change” but she felt around a lot and then looked up and said “well, looks like you’re at a 9, 100% effaced.” I started crying out of pure relief. I could not freaking believe it. I asked “Are you serious?? Are you sure??” And she said “Yup! Your cervix is almost completely gone.”  He was still at a -2 station though so while my body worked through the last bit of cervix, they had me sit straight up and let him start laboring down so I could get ready to birth our boy! My nurse started getting the room ready for delivery and they made all of the appropriate calls to the NICU and cardio team. 

9:47 PM – The resident came back in again and checked me and said I was complete and Huck was now at a +2 station. She then explained how to push and said we were going to try a few and see how it went. They had me reach down and hold behind my legs while Nolan held one leg up and my nurse held the other one, and they had me push for 10 seconds and do 3 pushes inside one contraction. So I would push really hard for 10 seconds, get a breath and do it again, 3 times. The maternal fetal medicine on call had made it in the room by this point and was coaching me through the pushing as well. In between one, she said “you’re pushing really good. If you keep pushing like that, he’ll be out in a couple more.” That was super encouraging to hear. I just kept thinking about all of the birth stories I’d read and listened to on podcasts about how to push and I kept trying to remember to apply those things. I think the next contraction and set of pushes, they all started saying “whoa whoa whoa, okay stop pushing!” I heard something about getting nicu in the room; nobody had made it yet besides the resident and mfm. Nolan said all of the sudden “was that his head???” And they said “Yes, that was definitely his head.” I asked if they were serious?? And they said “Yup! Do you want to see?” I said yes so they moved a mirror over and I could basically see the top of his head, which kind of went back in as the contraction ended. They took my internal monitor out and said “Okay momma, next one is on you. When you feel the contraction, push as hard as you can.” So I waited until I felt the pressure and then pushed with all of my life, took a deep breath and pushed as hard as I could again and out came his head! Nolan said on the third push they guided out his shoulders and the rest of his body. 

10:09 PM – They told me to look down and I saw our baby boy enter this world! He instantly cried, which was a great sign and Nolan got to cut the cord. I cried like crazy too, of course, just like I did when Whitlee was born. They took him over to do their initial checks and to decide if he needed prostaglandins at the bedside (he didn’t). They did his weight and measurement – weighed 6 lbs 11 oz and was 20″ long. Then they brought him over to let me hold him for a few minutes. We got a good look at him, then they let Nolan run to the waiting room to get Whitlee so she could meet him. She looked at him and said, “he’s pushed out??” We all got a good little giggle at that. Then Nolan took her back out to the waiting room and they took Huck back over to his warmer so they could start placing all of his lines. During all of this, I delivered the placenta and got a little stitch for a superficial tear. I felt so. much. relief. as soon as Huck and the placenta were out. They also turned my epidural off so I started feeling my legs again which was nice. I kept watching Huck’s team of people working on him and he was so quiet that I thought they’d sedated him but when one of the doctors commented that he was so calm, I realized he was just hanging out. They said he was just laying there watching them do their job. Random side note, right as I was delivering him, the NICU team kind of ran in the room. I didn’t really notice them come in but when I looked up, the room was full. They said something later about how they expected me to be pushing for a while and I asked how long I pushed and my nurse looked at her notes and said “about 10 minutes”. I was shocked!






11:15 PM – They transferred him across the sky bridge to the CVICU and Nolan went with him. Once they got him over there, they started all of his testing and trying to get a better idea of his heart. He was doing really well and breathing great on his own. We were told the next couple of days would be spent gathering data on his condition and we would most likely get an update on Monday from the cardiac team on plan of care. 

12:30 AM – I was in a postpartum room, up walking, using the restroom and overall feeling great. Exhausted, but great! 

So that’s his story! I can’t believe I did it and it was such good closure to the pregnant part of my life. I feel now that I had one emergency c section which was the best choice for that child and I had a successful vbac which was the best choice for that child. I have recovered from both major abdominal surgery and a vaginal delivery and we are so blessed to have two beautiful children. 

Huck Inlow


Huck Inlow Hillin entered the world on Saturday, May 13, 2017 at 10:09 PM via successful VBAC. He weighs 6 lbs 11 oz and is 20″. 

We are both doing well and should have a plan for his heart in the next day or so! We are all so in love with him and can’t believe how good he looks and how calm he is. He is very alert and seems to be tolerating his procedures pretty well!

Full birth story coming soon!!

Huck’s Heart | April Update Part 2 

In honor of making it to 34 weeks, here’s part 2 of this crazy journey so far! 

Read Part 1 here 

I started calling on Monday of the following week, asking for the status of our referral. We were told it could take 5-10 days for approval but if we called in, they could possibly expedite the process. Again, trying to shorten the insanity of what we went through, I made phone call after phone call; one to the OB’s office, then another to our coordinator with Texas Children’s to relay information and ask questions, then another to the insurance company, rinse and repeat, until we finally got approval for all our visits the afternoon before our first appointments with Texas Children’s. Talk about cutting it close! 

On Friday, April 7, I was up at 3 am partially because I couldn’t sleep and partially because we had to leave super early to be in Houston for our 8 am appointment and we weren’t really sure about traffic. It was a whirlwind day, with 3 different appointments, each lasting approximately 2 hours. We were basically starting from scratch and letting them build the information from the last 8 months and Huck’s heart in their own systems and records. 

First we met with the MFM (maternal fetal medicine) ultrasound department. We had a full anatomy scan, which at 33 weeks is kind of strange because he’s so big at this point. They measured all of his body the best they could, let us know he was measuring 5 lbs 4 oz, in the 68th percentile I believe, and confirmed for like the 15th time that he is indeed a boy. 🙂 Oh and that his head and belly were measuring in the 90 something percentile. The words “fat tummy” were used lol. He’s a full pound bigger than Whitlee at this point. 

After that we met with the Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor that we will see until Huck is born and who we thought would be delivering him (I’ll get to that part). She went through my entire medical history, looked at my blood sugars, talked about preeclampsia and symptoms to keep an eye out for, plan for monitoring going forward, the delivery process, what to expect the next 6-7 weeks, gave me an updated tDap vaccine for this pregnancy, and did a cervical check. And then before we signed all of the consent forms for birth and treatment, she asked “do you want another c section, or would you like a vbac?” She was so casual about it, like asking if I wanted water or tea. I asked what she thought and she said that as long as I’m stable with my gestational diabetes and blood pressure, she has absolutely no problem letting me go into labor on my own, when Huck is ready, and letting me do a trial of labor after cesarean; that they do tons of them there. She said it would be easier and faster recovery for me, as well as beneficial for Huck to travel through the birth canal and help squeeze extra fluid from his lungs, especially in this case. She reminded me I’ll need the ability to go see him in the nicu and a c section recovery might hinder the speed in which I’m able to go there, plus having a 2 year old to handle. There were discussions about the risks involved and reasons why we might still end up having a c section but for now, we agreed to keep a close eye on things and proceed towards a vaginal birth. She may or may not be the actual one to deliver him though since it will be spontaneous. 

I’m so nervous and excited for that part, but seriously so at peace that I know she fully supports the idea and that if she moves toward a c section, its because I truly need another c section. She did confirm during my cervical check that I was not dilated yet (good thing since we’re not quite ready yet) but that he was low and she could feel his head, which at this point was excellent because this is what would begin to soften and efface the cervix when it was time. She would prefer I spontaneously go into labor on my own but was open to inducing if we should reach that point. 

The last appointment of the day was for the echo and to see the cardiologist. They did a full echo, lasting about 45 minutes. Nolan and I kept both drifting off during because she was super quiet. She said that while she did the scan, the cardiologist was watching from a different room. I noticed she went back over some of the same areas over and over, very very slowly. I remember wondering if the cardiologist was asking her for second and third looks at some things. Afterwards she left and the cardiologist came in. She said that Huck has a very complicated little heart, but that it is not hypoplastic left heart syndrome. She did a few scans of her own and then had us sit down for a consultation where she explained the complex anatomy of his heart and how we would proceed. 

She explained that he does actually have two ventricles – one on one side that is large and fully functional and another that is very small, sort of like a pocket ventricle. He also has both of the main arteries that are very important for function of the heart. Then she told us that the large ventricle, she believes is the left ventricle, making him have a ventricular inversion. (This explains why our first cardiologist was hesitant to commit to saying right or left.) This also means that the aorta is attached to the left ventricle and the pulmonary artery is attached to the right ventricle, which is called Transposition of the Great Arteries or TGA. He also has Tricuspid Artresia, meaning his tricuspid valve never developed, and he has a ventricular septal defect, a large hole between the two ventricles, making it look like one ventricle. I know this is super confusing and it still is to us too but this picture explains it pretty well. 

This diagram shows a “hypoplastic” right ventricle because the term hypoplastic means “underdeveloped” and he will still be considered (and treated like) a single ventricle baby. But in our case, if she is correct about the complex anatomy of his heart, he has the stronger of the two ventricles. The left is usually considered the “work horse” of the heart, having stronger muscle walls and capable of regulating blood pressure better than the right. 

So what does all of this mean? It means that he will for sure have open heart surgery at least twice in his life. But for now, pending anatomical confirmation at birth, he is clear of the Norwood procedure that happens almost immediately after birth. Reminder, the Norwood is the most complicated and severe of the surgeries and has the highest mortality rates. They said he will go to the NICU somewhat immediately following birth. I say somewhat because as long as he’s stable when he comes out, they will do his initial assessments in the room with us and that he would most likely be with us for around 30ish minutes before leaving for the NICU. Some of this has been a little strange to explain to people because the natural reaction is “we’ll won’t he be in critical condition when he’s born? I mean he’s missing part of his heart… and some of its backwards… and I just don’t understand.” And the best answer I can give that we’ve had to learn over time is that there are some unique features to a baby’s heart while they’re in utero, like some ducts and passage ways, that allow blood to freely move about the heart in a way that is actually “okay” for them at first. It’s not a perfectly functioning heart but it gets the job done. Those things remain open for quite a while giving care providers plenty of time to do whatever needs to be done. It’s all pretty miraculous. 

Where we’re at now is that my care has officially been transferred to Texas Children’s Hospital. I have appointments there once a week, but they’re usually 3-6 appointments crammed into one day since we live 2+ hours away. We won’t know much more about his heart now until he’s born and they’ll able to do a full echo on him to confirm the anatomy of his heart but if everything matches what they believe currently to be true, he may be able to wait a few months before his first surgery, making him much more stable and tolerant of the procedure. We will be temporarily relocating to Houston in a couple of weeks per the recommendation of our team of doctors at TCH and we’ll remain there until Huck decides to make his appearance. We’re not quite sure how long we will be there after he’s born but our prayer is that everything the doctors believe right now holds true and we know they’ll get us home as soon as it’s medically safe for him to do so. We definitely believe he’s in the best place possible now! 

Again, thank you so much to everyone for continued thoughts, prayers, and donations. There have been so many local fundraisers and it makes me cry every time I think about how everyone has helped. We can’t even begin to put into words how thankful we are for everyone’s continued generosity!