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


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 | CCHD Mama

I feel somewhat like I’ve been hiding something from my blog friends but this has been a hard post to write. I’ve actually started and erased several times but now that we know where we’re headed, this will become my place to not only track and record the rest of my pregnancy but the journey of our sweet baby Huck. This post is long but getting to this point has been sort of long in real life already, and we have even longer roads ahead of us. 

January 20th is a day we won’t ever forget. That’s the day they told us our baby only has half a heart, unofficially diagnosing him with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). We knew after our anatomy scan a couple of weeks ago at 20 weeks that something was off but our OB’s office reassured us that it was probably just a positioning issue or that he was too active, and they scheduled us to come back to check again at 22 weeks. I researched fetal hearts to what I thought was an insane amount so when we went back I knew what his heart should look like. When the scan started, and she checked his heart, I knew it wasn’t all there. Without recounting several conversations with different office staff word for word, I’ll say that my doctors office treated me very poorly that day, doing a follow up scan without plans in place for there being a problem. They apparently intended to do the scan and send me home to wait for a phone call, whenever that would be, but after I demanded some kind of answer and they sent me out to the waiting room basically in hysterics, they somehow tracked down my doctor and had him review the scans and he simply sent his RN to talk to me. My family and I are all so appalled at their lack of compassion when they clearly knew there was a critical issue. It makes my blood boil to even type this much of it. The RN ended up telling us they were referring us to a Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor for a level 2 ultrasound and fetal echo. We weren’t sure how soon this would happen but she said she marked the paperwork “urgent”. 

The next day we got the phone call that we’d be seen in two days at UTMB in Galveston, Texas. I had been praying it would be fast, but was pleasantly surprised at just how fast.

On January 20, we left bright and early and drove 2 and a half hours to Galveston to our appointment. Everyone there was so insanely nice and understanding. The tech started the ultrasound and explained every single thing she was taking pictures of. She got in depth measurements of so many body parts and organs, again confirming he’s a boy (fourth check now) and helping Nolan understand exactly what he was seeing on the large screen on the wall. He’s never had anyone take the time to show him and he’s always a little unsure of what he’s seeing, so ultrasounds haven’t been that exciting for him. But this time because of the time she took and the quality of the machine, he saw everything from 5 little toes and 5 little fingers to lips and nose. We even saw Huck playing with his toes and putting his hand in his mouth. We saw him opening and closing his mouth and flipping around like crazy in there. When the tech switched over to the fetal echo and started on his heart, she went silent. We knew then something was truly wrong. She scanned and took pictures for well over 30 minutes then left to get the MFM specialist. He came in and looked at the ultrasound machine with the tech, asking for specific views himself. He asked if we had any family history of congenital heart defects and we said no. He left to get a book of pictures and brought them back to us. He showed us a normal heart and then an HLHS heart and explained that he either did not have a left side or that it was severely underdeveloped. He said he was referring us on to a pediatric cardiologist and they would try to get us in very quickly with him as well. That visit would be in Pearland this time, which is two hours from us. We asked a few questions about how it happens, what his outcome would be and what life would be like for him. He explained the best he could that sometimes it’s genetic and sometimes environmental and sometimes just random chance. He said Huck would need a series of (hopefully) three reconstructive open heart surgeries starting when he’s born and ending when he’s a toddler. He said that 20 years ago this defect was fatal. But they’ve come a long way with this reconstructive surgery series and now babies are living into their 20’s. There isn’t much data past that because it hasn’t been around long enough. He was optimistic that while he probably wouldn’t ever be an athlete, he had chances to live a fairly normal life. 
From there we notified family and close friends about what we’d found out and waited for the phone call about his next appointment.  

We got the call on Monday the 23rd that our appointment with the pediatric cardiologist would be Thursday the 26th. I made a list three pages long of questions I had. I knew some of them wouldn’t be able to be answered just yet until we find out about my OB care.

So today we saw the pediatric cardiologist and got confirmation that our sweet baby boy has been diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. We were able to ask a lot of the questions we had about his quality of life (which should be fairly normal once he’s past the surgeries) but mostly just confirmed the diagnosis and treatment plan which will indeed be the three part series of reconstructive open heart surgeries, starting when he’s born. We felt really comfortable with the cardiologist and his experience specifically with this defect. He currently has a 27 year old patient surviving with it and doing well. Right now our doctors and his surgical team are making plans for Huck, monitoring both of us, and we will find out more a little later around 30 weeks. 

The goal of utmost importance right now is keeping me pregnant as long as possible. So we’re praying the preeclampsia stays at bay this time and a full term baby boy. That will give Huck the best shot at his life. 

I posted today on Instagram and now here, but I put that I debated if and when to start posting about everything but we want to celebrate his life and my pregnancy with him just like we would have otherwise. I will still continue to do my updates every 3 weeks and more updates on his heart as they happen. We still have a lot of unknowns to face and a long road ahead but we appreciate any thoughts and prayers sent our way. 

Thank you so much to everyone that has known about this so far for keeping us in your thoughts. We feel surrounded by love and know that we’ll be bringing Huck into a world that loves him so much already. ❤️💙