Thursday, December 14, 2006

third trimester...

Time just seems to be flying by! So much has happened in the past month & its hard to believe that in just 12ish weeks, our little boy will be here! He's grown quite a bit over the past four weeks & the baby bump is large & in charge now! As of December 1st, he's grown to 2 lbs 2 oz, putting him in the 44th percentile at this point in the pregnancy. Babies with HLHS usually are on the small end of the growth scale, so he's doing great!
Jordan & I have been busy getting things ready for his arrival. We've cleaned & organized every room in our house & are ready to begin transitioning the office into his nursery. While we were in Tampa over Thanksgiving, some friends Jordan had grown up with threw us a delightful baby shower, so we now have some baby clothes hanging in his closet. So precious! Currently, we're finalizing our registries at Target & Babies-R-Us. Who knew babies needed so much stuff! We're hoping to nail down a room design theme & bedroom set today, while we've knocked out most of the other big items, such as a stroller, car seat, etc. has been tremendously helpful to us new parents in knowing what's tried & true.
More excitingly, we've narrowed the baby names list quite a bit & are beginning to really feel some direction for what his name will be. Growing up with an unusual name that tells part of my story, I would love to pass that on to our son. So that whenever someone asks him, "hey, why did your parents name you __________?", he can share the testimony of the great things God has done in his life, carrying him through the HLHS to victory! So something meaning "overcomer, warrior, God is my strength"...along those lines. We'll keep you posted on our progress with the name :)
On December 1st, we had a sonogram at UNC to give them their own view & records of our growing boy. Boy, was he feisty & proud that day! Shortly after getting him on screen, he did "The Worm" move for a while...he's got rhythm already! :) It had been about a month since the last sonogram & Jordan & I were amazed with how much he has grown! You can clearly see where the cartiledge is becoming bone & muscles are strengthening around his long legs. That day, he had decided it would be fun to see how far down in mommy's hip he could bury his little head. No wonder my leg had been cramping all morning! We weren't able to see his little face well w/the position he was quite content in, but the back of his head was looking just fine. With his growth, we were able to have a better view of his heart. Nothing has changed in that arena. The HLHS is still very present, w/the missing mitral valve & fibroelastosis surrounding the left ventricle far more visible now. The good news is that no additional problems have presented themselves. So other than his heart, he's growing perfectly! His kicks get stronger every day. What a blessing to feel his life moving about within throughout the day. There are many nights that Jordan & I just watch my belly move about as he plays inside. We can't wait to meet our little boy & kiss his precious face!!
As many of you know, we've been in the process of determining whether to have the Norwood Procedure done at UNC of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), where the procedure was developed & HLHS babies are operated on every week. Our care coordinator at UNC was kind enough to set up a meeting w/Dr. Michael Mills, Chief of Cardiothorasic Surgery at UNC. We spent an hour & a half with him, asking questions about his background & experience w/HLHS & Norwood Procedures, to determine our comfort level w/having our boy operated on at UNC. Dr. Mills was simply delightful! Brought to UNC in '88 to develop the heart & lung transplant program, he has been performing the Norwood on infants since '91. His success rates are equivalent to the national standards put out by Children's in Boston, Philly, & Ann Arbor, which is 70-75%...awesome! Granted, with the mitral arteriosis & fibroelastosis of the left ventricle, our boy is towards the 70% range of that rate, but luckily Dr. Mills is familiar w/this form of complication & had much success before. He works with a very close-knit team in the O.R. & while UNC is a teaching hospital, Mills will be the principle surgeon on our son. No one's learning on our little boy...we're only having experienced hands in his chest.
The meeting was truly such a blessing to us both! We left feeling tremendously encouraged & more hopefully in the face of these surgeries. He explained why they wait 3-7 days to do the first operation: this allows the infant time to adapt to living outside of the womb, strengthening the lungs & digestive system, & ensuring that he does not go into surgery with any illness. Babies who undergo the Norwood Procedure between 3-7 days after delivery do much better than those that go under the knife just hours after birth, both in surgery & in recovery. The entire procedure will take only 3.5 -4 hours. Most of the babies Mills has operated on w/o complications have been able to go home around 2 weeks after surgery, which is shorter than we expected. We will be able to hold our son from delivery till surgery. After about 2 days post-op, we'll be able to hold him again. The greatest determinant to the amount of contact we can have with him is his need for a ventilator, as that would only allow us contact through touch rather than holding his whole body. On any given day, 30%-40% of the infants in the PICU are those Mills has operated on, so they are very familiar with infants who have undergone open-heart. God has put our worries to rest once again by bringing us to the perfect people to help our son. What a loving God He is! He has everything under control!
So that's all for now. Updates will come more frequently now as the doctors visits increase in regularity & the countdown to his arrival comes to a close. This has certainly been a time of testing & faith, but praise be to our awesome God who carries us through every fire & flood. As our friend Tami Poland stated so eloquently last weekend in service: no matter how grey the sky appears, nor how loud & long the thunder rolls, behind those clouds God is ever-shining. Even when we can't see its light nor feel its warmth, we can have hope & joy knowing He is there in complete control & shining His love & light over the whole earth even still.
While we don't know the outcome of this situation yet, we have confidence in our God & that He is in complete control. When fears, doubts, impending medical bills, & dire diagnoses try to cloud our minds & hearts, His rays of light & truth prevail. For He is the First, the Last, the Great Physician, the Everlasting One. From Him & through Him & to Him are all things! To Him be the glory, now & forever more. Amen!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

thank goodness for nutrition!

As most of you know, I've been quite sick through out this entire pregnancy. 24-7 morning sickness, migraines, muscle cramps, etc. Needless to say, it has not been the joyous, glowing pregnancy we'd thought I'd have. However, thanks to our incredible families, Jordan & I were able to travel up to DC in mid-November to have some nutritional testing done. Dr. George Mitchell, a phenomenal internist & old family friend, collected & shipped blood & urine work to the MetaMetrix Laboratory in GA to have an ION (Individual Optimal Nutrition) Profile done on it. MetaMetrix is the world's leading functional laboratory, performing services for medical & research groups globally. The ION Profile is a sophisticated testing process that analyzes the individual's nutrients on a molecular level, determining on an individual basis what the body is getting too much of or lacking & how best to supplement it for optimal cellular health & function. This Profile performed tests on the amino acids in blood plasma, homocysteine in blood serum, mineral (element) analysis in the red blood cells, fat-soluble vitamins & lipid peroxides in blood serum, & organic acids in the urine. If it sounds complex & confusing, that's because it is! For more information on the ION Profile & all the specifics therein, visit
Three weeks after the blood & urine work was collected, we received the full 16-page Profile report. No wonder I had been feeling so sick throughout this pregnancy & even weak before conceiving...I'm a nutritional mess! The results allowed us to determine that I've had a chronic yeast infection in my digestive system for quite some time now, explaining the multiple symptoms I constantly was experiencing as well as the depletion of my nutrients even though I'm a healthy eater. So between the chronic infection & this little baby, I was nutritionally depleted in many areas. The ION results were then compiled to create a customized formulation to restore & balance my entire nutritional spectrum, down to the amino acid level - which of the 10, I was alarmingly low in 8 of them. Dr. Mitchell also put me on a strict yeast-free diet to eliminate the chronic infection through nutrition, as I can't take any medication currently due to pregnancy. No sugar, white flour, lactose, or eggs. While it has been difficult & at times creative adapting to this new eating plan, words cannot describe how much healthier I feel! Between the diet & 25 supplements I'm taking daily (no worries...all natural, custom-formulated, & pregnancy friendly), I'm feeling more like myself than I have in a long, long time. People seriously underestimate the difference good nutrition can make! The migraines have gone, no IBS problems, edema has not recurred, muscle aches don't haunt me throughout the day, I can't remember the last time I had a bought of morning sickness since beginning this regimen. And to top it all off, our baby is now getting the full nutrition he needs to grow healthy & strong! Dr. Mitchell has formulated my supplements to specifically strengthen the development of cardiac tissue, so as to give our son the best chance possible while still developing. Isn't God good?!?!?!!!!
Jordan & I are truly humbled & grateful to have had this opportunity. Thank you to the Leino parents for providing the means for us to get to DC to have all this testing done. Thanks to the Roddy parents for both arranging & supplying the testing & necessary supplements. This is all something we could never have had the opportunity to do on our own. Thank you, thank you, thank you to our families!!! Once again, God has provided what we needed most & has brought us closer together through the process. Its wonderful feeling healthy again, able to enjoy time with Jordan before the baby is here & simply experience more of life once again rather than being bound by physical ailments.
Praise be to our loving God & thanks again to our amazing families! We love you all so very much!