Friday, January 26, 2007

Another great visit to UNC...

Its a beautiful, crisp Friday in North Carolina. Perfect for a trip out to Chapel Hill. Jordan & I met with Dr. Strauss again today for our 35 week prenatal visit. The more we know him, the more we enjoy him & are thankful to be under his care. All the usual vitals came back normal - blood pressure, weight, fundus length. We talked a bit more about delivery & how the baby will need to be monitored during labor. He reassured us that HLHS babies do just as well through the delivery process as any other baby - the difference is once he's out of the womb & dependent upon his lungs for oxygen. We'll head to the hospital once contractions come about 5 minutes apart.
I'd been having great discomfort in my abdomen over the past few days & was quite relieved to hear my experiences to be normal for women at this stage in pregnancy - strong tightening on one side of the uterus, sharp stinging pains on the upper right of my abdomen, lower back pain. He attributed these to Braxton Hicks contractions & my body stretching to accommodate Isaac's rapid growth of late. Finally, our visit w/Dr. Strauss concluded w/a cervix check. Normally, he begins doing these on patients at 37 weeks, but with the symptoms described over the past few days, he thought it best to check it out. "With this being your first pregnancy, I'm sure you'll be at zero &...oh're already 1-2 cm dilated & 80% effaced. Looks like you'll most likely have a quicker labor than you expected!" Jordan & I were quite surprised, though it made sense with all the aches I'd been experiencing lately. So we'll just keep a vigilant eye on my progress & depending on how quickly I dilate & efface, Dr. Strauss said we'll probably induce sooner than originally anticipated rather than send us home an hour away to progress slightly & then return.
So it seems our Isaac may make his grand entrance in February! Exciting days lay just around the corner!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

And his name shall be called...

One of the most amazing & challenging parts of this journey towards parenthood is deciding the name of your child. Much like choosing your spouse, this is a decision that will affect the whole of one's life. In biblical times, names were chosen to portray a characteristic or path for that individual. Sometimes, children were named based on what their parents had learned through the pregnancy.

Both Jordan & I have been privledged with names that carry significant weight in our families. Jordan is in honor of his maternal grandparents, Marston & Virginia Jordan. His name honors both families from which he came - the Jordan family & the Leino family. My name tells the story of my parents journey towards having a child. I am the firstborn child to my parents - after 8 long years of wanting a child; after years of loss, heartache, & trial. Through the long journey to my birth, my parents learned the valuable lesson that God's timing is perfect & even when we don't understand it, we must have patience for His plan. Thus, I have the name Patience as a reminder of all God taught them through those long years.

When we found out that we were pregnant, we wanted to give him more than a cool-sounding name, but one that told a story. Little did we know at the time the journey that lay just ahead of us. Since discovering his complicated heart condition at 18 weeks, we have learned in a profound way new levels of faith & trust in our mighty God. Constantly, we've had to lay our boy on the altar & trust him in God's hands - not knowing what the outcome would be. Through the course of this pregnancy, we've been encouraged & inspired by the story of Abraham in Genesis 22. Abraham had the choice to follow God & lay his precious son, Isaac, on the altar before God. He had to choose & live out faith in God over his son who was most precious to him. And when it seemed there was no other way, God stepped in to save Isaac's life in a miraculous way.

We've gone back to this story countless times through the course of this pregnancy. Often, people hearing our story have told us that they're reminded of Abraham learning to trust God completely with his child. It is a story & lesson close to our hearts, one that parallels in many ways our journey with our son. And so we have decided on his name! Its been on our hearts for many months now, resting to be sure it was right. It is a name that tells his story. Our little boy will be called:

Isaac Jordan Leino

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Baby Leino at 34 Weeks

Today, I'm 34 weeks pregnant. Time has simply flown by! Only 6ish more weeks and our little man will be here!

As you know, he has HLHS, a congenital heart defect. He also has a two-cord umbilical cord (normally, this is a three-cord). Due to these two conditions, our Care Coordinator at UNC scheduled a follow-up sonogram to check all the body & size measurements. Dr. Tony Swartz did the sonogram. He actually worked on research w/Dr. Trevett, the man who initially diagnosed our boy's heart condition. Dr. Swartz was delightful, talking me through the entire exam. No wonder my ribs have been aching - his feet are stretched out right under them! Everything is measuring perfectly on our boy, right on track in his size & weight with normal babies! What a blessing! He started out undersized, due to my own nutrition problems & his heart condition. Now he's completely on track! 4 lbs 13 oz! To God be the Glory!! Towards the end of the exam, Tony offered to take some 3D pictures. Luckily, he only had one hand up by his face this time instead of both hands & a foot. So here's our little boy! His chin is tucked down into his chest as he was all balled up. Enjoy!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Our day at UNC...

Thank you all for your prayers & encouraging words! Our day at UNC on Friday was full to say the least. But overall, it went very well.

We began our day in Chapel Hill with Dr. Robert Strauss, one of the high-risk obstetricians. Very comfortable, he explained the basics of the delivery procedure with heart condition babies. In our son's case, the delivery will be treated as normal until he's actually here...other than having ten doctors in the room when I actually deliver instead of the usual 2 or 3. We'll monitor his progress carefully over the remaining 7 weeks. Unless a delivery dilemma arises, there will be no need to induce or go to C-section due to our little boy's condition. As with most first time moms, I'll most likely go past my due date. If I've not begun labor within a week past March 1, they'll induce labor. Dr. Strauss is very committed to not acting preemptively so as to avoid unnecessary C-sections. I'll be having all remaining prenatal visits at UNC from here on out. Both Jordan & I were very comfortable w/Dr. Strauss. So our day started off very well.

Once we had finished w/Dr. Strauss, our care coordinator, Lisa Welborn, took us over to the Children's Hospital for our follow-up echocardiogram with Dr. John Cotton. Along the way, she familiarized us further on the hospital's layout as well as some possible financial programs to help with the cost of his surgeries. Lots of paperwork to go through. Lisa has arranged all our visits at UNC thus far & has been tremendously helpful. We were also updated of a follow-up sonogram for this Thursday at REX hospital. Since our son has a two-cord umbilical cord (normally, babies have a three-cord), doctors recommend a follow-up sonogram closer to delivery to measure the body, checking for any developmental hiccups or signs of problems. So we'll be seeing our boy again on Thursday! What a blessing to see him so often. This element has been one of the silver linings through this trying time as most mothers only have 1-2 sonograms their entire pregnancy. Thankfully, insurance has covered all 9 of ours!

The fetal echocardiogram went very smoothly. The baby was positioned far more favorably this time, so Dr. Cotton was able to get a good view of his heart & how it has developed over the past 13 weeks. He confirmed the HLHS to still be there w/the atretic mitral valve & fibroelastosis of the left ventricle. However, no new complications have presented themselves either! So at this point, everything is on track for his first surgery during the week of his birth. The Norwood Procedure is the first of three open-heart reconstructive surgeries. In this procedure, the large main pulmonary artery & small aorta are fashioned together to make a new, larger aorta. There is a small tube (shunt) put in to connect the lung artery to the aorta. This shunt gives blood flow to the lungs. The wall that separates the top two heart chambers is then removed (atrial septectomy) to allow blood flow between the two atrium. The narrowing of the aorta is then opened & the connecting blood vessel removed. This procedure works to bypass the underdeveloped left ventricle & supply more adequate oxygenated blood to the body. Dr. Cotton reassured us again that though this procedure comes with the usual risks (70% success rate), he saw no indication from the echo that there is anything further going on that would jeopardize our boy's chances at this point.

Upon returning from a quick lunch on Franklin Street, Lisa took Jordan & me to tour the NICU. What a challenging place to be in. Most of the babies here are born prematurely & need constant high-risk care. Many of them were so small, even ranging to those born at 26 weeks! Lisa moved us through the hall fairly quickly so we would not have to dwell on all the tubes & machines connected to the tiny bodies that lay in the cribs. There is one attending physician for every 1-2 babies, keeping care constant & focused. Only 2 visitors are allowed in the room with the baby at a time due to space (as there are six infant stations to a pod), so it will be a juggling act for everyone to see our boy once he's here. The same visiting limit is true for the PICU as well. The babies receive 24-hour care here. Our son will go from the delivery room to the NICU for the days up until his first surgery. Following his surgery, he'll receive care in the PICU (more to come on that later).

After our tour of the NICU, we met with neo-natalogist, Dr. Marty McCaffery. What a delightful man. He talked us through the days between our baby's birth & going into surgery. He'll be one of the four neo-natal physicians in the delivery room with us when our boy arrives on the scene. Our time with Dr. McCaffery was very helpful as he gave us more insight on what our boy's time in the NICU may look life. Babies with HLHS are put on the medication prostaglandin to keep the ductus arteriosis open, thus allowing oxygenated blood to get to the body. There is often a balancing act involved with babies on prostaglandin as they need to get adequate oxygen (often through ventilator) though not so much as to overwhelm the lungs. Sometimes, the neo-natalogists will need to give these babies nitrogen to keep oxygen levels in the lungs around 70-80% SAT. Once the baby has successful transitioned over from newborn circulation, he'll undergo the first open-heart surgery. These babies also receive IVs through their umbilical cord to ensure adequate nutrition & medication as needed. Every baby is different, so the staff of the NICU provides 24 hour care for tailored care to each infant. We were so pleased w/Dr. McCaffery. He spoke directly with us about what care may be necessary during our boy's stay in the NICU while educating us along the way. He was also quite compassionate & by the end of the meeting, we not only had another doctor on our side, but a friend.

Our day came to a close with tours of both the Labor & Delivery floor and the PICU. Lisa was very helpful in getting us acquainted with the Labor & Delivery floor, showing us delivery, triage, & waiting rooms. This wing is just down the hall from the NICU, making our boy's trip from one place to the next quick & efficient. Being a high-risk patient, I'll be strapped up to multiple monitors & equipment during my time at L&D. The room will be quite crowded by the time of delivery, with up to ten different doctors & attendees in the room. This is to ensure the quickest response for our boy should he come out in a traumatized state. However, if he comes out pink & doing well, we'll be able to hold him for a few minutes before they take him to the NICU.

Finally, we toured the PICU. This proved to be the most difficult portion of our day. Every child in PICU has their own room, in part because of the size of all equipment needed. About 30-40% of the children in the PICU at any given time are surgery patients from Dr. Mills, so they are well acquainted with open heart & transplant patients. While the patients here were not nearly as small as those in the NICU, it was more difficult to take as you could see them more clearly in their rooms (the NICU babies could barely be seen over the cribs & equipment). So many of the children were either sleeping or looked worn out, plugged in to several monitors & tubes. A grandmother was rocking a little baby in one room...he looked so small & tired. It is amazing how much some of these children go through so early on in life. Lisa moved us through this portion of the day fairly quickly so as not to dwell too long on the condition of these children. What a blessing to have facilities like this for children who need such delicate & attentive care! Our boy will stay in the PICU when recovering from surgery & then will be moved to the CICU (Cardiac Intensive Care Unit), where everyone is fully acquainted with heart patients & surgeries.

So our day at UNC was a success. Jordan & I are now more acquainted with the specifics of our boy's care once he's here, as well as how to get to everything in the hospital. He was definitely my strength during the difficult moments of the day, taking my hand & giving reassuring hugs & kisses just when I needed them most. He has been absolutely amazing through this whole journey, constantly reminding me in my weak moments that our great God is in control & that everything will be fine, no matter what that means. Some days, he'll just hold me close & whisper, "I'm here. We're going to get through this together. God is in control." What an amazing man!

Thank you all again for your many prayers on our behalf. Its shocking to realize that March 1st is just 6.5 weeks away! Keep checking back as updates will be coming more quickly now. This sweet boy of ours is growing big & strong...some days, I wonder how I'll be able to keep up as it seems I'm stretched to the limit already. Pregnancy certainly is a fascinating experience. Here's wishing you all a delightful day! And again, many thanks!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Friday is a big day...

Tomorrow we spend the whole day at UNC. Its going to be a big step in preparing for our little boy's arrival & the days following his birth as his due date is now only 7 weeks away.

We'll begin by meeting with Dr. Robert Strauss, a specialist in high-risk obstetrics. He'll be talking us through the delivery process in light of our boy's high-risk status. Then, at 11a, we have a follow-up fetal echocardiogram with Dr. John Cotton, the phenomenal doctor who diagnosed baby Leino's heart condition & helped us wrap our minds around his situation. The last time his heart was analyzed so closely was 12 weeks ago & as he's much bigger now, we'll be able to see far more specific details about his state. This will allow us to have a better idea of when & what his first surgery will entail - in case there are other problems needing to be addressed as well. Later that afternoon, we'll tour both the NICU & the PICU, getting familiar with the two places our boy will pre & post surgery. Finally, a meeting with neo-natologist, Dr. McCaffery, to go over our boy's care post-birth.

This is a big day. Please be praying for Jordan & I as we'll be having to take in a lot of information & surroundings. We're still praying that a miracle occurs as God is more that able to heal his heart. However, even if nothing changes in our boy's heart, we still trust & love Him, knowing His plan is perfect & He has this situation in complete control. So please pray. Pray for the doctors, for wisdom in everything that will occur tomorrow. Pray for our boy, that he continues to grow strong & healthy. And pray for Jordan & I, for the ears to hear whatever may need to be discussed tomorrow & the faith to fully trust our God in the face of all of it as we learn more of the specifics.

God's plan for our boy & us is great. We know He loves us so much! Our eyes are fixed on Him.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

you must have been a beautiful baby...

Happy New Year, everyone! 2007 is here in full swing & our little boy's arrival is now within the two month window. Time is simply flying by! Jordan & I spent time in Annapolis over Christmas with the Roddy fam. We had such a wonderful time! Its always a blessing to spend time with family - especially Ian whom we hadn't seen since last Christmas - & to deviate for a while from the usual routine of life. Mom & Corinne also threw us a surprise baby shower while we were sweet! The women overwhelmed us with their love, generosity & prayers for our little boy. Lots of baby clothes & adorable stuffed animals. Thank you!

While we were in Annapolis, a dear family friend gave us a 3D Sonogram session! Nancy works for the Severna Park Pregnancy Clinic ( An amazing facility, it used to be the largest abortion clinic in Maryland. Now, it provides hope & the option of life to pregnant women! Some times, women will come in expecting to get an abortion done, not knowing that the previous clinic had moved. But praise the Lord! They are met by loving women who educate them, show them sonogram images of the child inside of them, & equip them to choose life for their child! Its a wonderful place!

Well, Nancy generously offered to provide us with a 3D Sonogram of our boy! She spent an hour working to get some good view of his face. Mr. Personality had both arms & at times, a leg in front of his face for most of the session :) But thankfully, she was able to capture some sweet shots of his precious face. He's adorable! And so far, we all think he resembles Jordan. So enjoy these new pics of our baby boy!

Monday, January 01, 2007

registry remedied...

For those who have been asking, our registries are with Target & Babies-R-Us. However, we came to discover that they both were set up incorrectly. But thankfully, the technical problems have been remedied & both can be viewed online now. Just search for either Jordan or Patience Leino. If a password is requested, enter "babyleino". Sorry for the confusion...