Sunday, April 12, 2009

Our Loving Boy

We've been a bit busy lately, but we've finally put some photos and videos up.

Weighing Ethan minutes after his birth.
I forgot to put up his stats: 7 lbs 11 oz, 20", born 8:00am 3/17/09

Brittney holding her son for the first time (before we knew about his heart defect which is explained below the photos).

Momma and son, the night before his surgery.

Closeup of Ethan before surgery.

During recovery in the hospital.

Daddy loves his boy.

Babies smell so good, you just want to kiss them all the time.

The money shot.

Loving sister Shelley.

Ethan's namesake (middle name that is): Philip Robinson.


Sleepy baby with no more cords or wires!

We love our curious boy.

Home at last (with oxygen for now).

Transposition of the Great Arteries
Ethan was born with a congenital heart defect where the pulmonary artery and the aorta (which grow out of the heart) have grown in the wrong places. They're switched, and the solution is to switch them back. This involves open-heart surgery, usually done within the first weeks of life. Without surgery, the child will die, most likely before his first birthday.

When the heart develops in the womb, all sorts of things can go wrong. Some of these things can't be attributed to genetics, like TGA, which appears to happen at random regardless of family history. And Brittney kept the alcohol and tobacco to a minimum during the pregnancy, so it wasn't that. (By minimum, I mean none of course. :)

This image may be on the small side, but the idea is that the Aorta (big red artery coming out the top) should grow out of the Left Ventricle, while the Pulmonary Artery (big blue one coming out the top and branching out to the lungs) should come out of the Right Ventricle, like the image above. So blood from the body enters through the blue tubes into the heart, goes through the Pulmonary Artery out to the lungs, back to the heart, and then out through the Aorta to the body making a full circuit. Ethan's heart developed like the picture below:

Here was his heart, where the Aorta came out of the Right Ventricle and the Pulmonary Artery came out of the Left Ventricle. This represents a big problem: blood coming from the body enters the heart on the left side of this image (through the blue tubes), goes through the Right Atrium, down into the Right Ventricle, and out the Aorta which goes back to the body. That blood never gets oxygen from the lungs. This is because the blood from the lungs is entering the Left Atrium (through the red tubes on the sides), goes into the Left Ventricle, and then out the Pulmonary Artery back to the lungs. So the two pathways of blood are separate, and the body never gets oxygen.

Now Ethan's heart developed a temporary solution for this situation: It created a hole between the Left and Right Ventricles (not shown in this image). The hole allowed the oxygen-rich blood to mix with the oxygen-poor blood, so that his body could get some oxygen. Furthermore, we're born with a smaller hole up between the Left and Right Atria (which IS shown is this image). This hole has a flap and it usually closes shortly after birth. Also, the image above points out a vessel connecting the Aorta and Pulmonary Artery, and this too closes shortly after birth. In order to help with the oxygen mixing in his heart, doctors widened the hole between the atria (with a balloon tipped catheter that they ran through an artery in his leg to his heart) and kept the vessel open between the arteries with a drug.

Surgery was done by Dr. Burch three days after Ethan's birth. The surgery took 6.5 grueling hours. This involved putting him on a bypass machine (taking his blood out of his body, oxygenating it, and putting it back in his body and bypassing the heart), stopping his heart with medication, switching the two arteries by cutting them and re-stitching them, closing the holes between his ventricles and atria, and closing the flap over the vessel between the arteries. He didn't need the holes anymore since his heart was now connected the right way.

His recovery went well, although he got an infection in his stitches a few days after surgery. The infection was not in the deep tissue, just in the top layers beneath his skin. It required antibiotics, and a longer stay in the hospital. He's home now, with an oral antibiotic, a diuretic, a heart medication, and aspirin. They also sent us home with an oxygen tank just to make sure his levels are normal. We go back in 2 weeks when they'll decide what drugs to take him off of, and if he still needs the oxygen.

This has been an emotional experience, but we've learned so much, been through so much as a family, and love our son incredibly. We want to thank (and will continue to thank) all of our family and friends who have been so supportive, have prayed for us and visited us, and have given their love to our boy. We couldn't have made it through this without you.