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! 

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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