One year ago today Audrey had her open heart surgery.
Will and I woke up around 3:30 or 4am, got our things together and drove to Children’s hospital with Audrey. My parents followed shortly after and met us at the hospital with donuts and coffee as we awaited Audrey’s surgery.
Audrey was taken back and we waited, talked, prayed, waited more. I was really nervous about seeing Audrey after the surgery. I knew it would be extremely difficult to see her like that and not be able to do anything. I wouldn’t be able to pick her up or feed her. I began thinking of ways I could show her that she wasn’t alone.
Finally the surgeon came back and let us know that everything was finished and it went well. Audrey did great and we would be able to see her soon. With a heavy heart, Will, my parents and I headed to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit to see Audrey.
Audrey looked so defeated. I broke down immediately and just stood there crying. We talked to Audrey and we hugged each other. Then we took turns standing beside her and holding our hand on her head so that she could have skin to skin and feel our presence.
The first night was most definitely the hardest as we just had to push through. By the end of the night a nurse let me hold and feed Audrey. Of course I didn’t let her go after that. My mom, Will and I then began taking shifts holding her. She had a tube coming from her tummy and a bag of blood. She had a IV coming from her neck and arm. It was quite scary with all the tubes and chords but we got used to them. Audrey stayed in CICU for two nights and then we moved to the Cardiac Progressive Unit. Everyone was saying she was doing so well.
I was so relieved when we got to the Cardiac Progressive Unit. I thought, we are so on our way out of here soon! However, we ended up staying in that unit for 4 days. Those 4 days in the hospital felt like an eternity when Audrey was throwing up everything she ate, not gaining weight and crying every time she was awake because of the medicine and pain. The nurses gave me a hard time for letting her breastfeed whenever she wanted and for not putting her down in the crib. I began to feel like I was going crazy by the 5th day in the hospital (3rd in the progressive unit). Thankfully, Audrey finally gained a little weight so everyone calmed down. The surgery was successful so she didn’t need oxygen anymore.
One night a sweet nurse brought in a swing for Audrey and we saw this beautiful smile.
The nurses then started letting Will and I go for walks around the hospital wing.
We went for walks a lot the last couple of nights in the hospital. My parents had gone home and we had to get out of the room to keep our sanity. One particular night we were walking in this vacant wing next to ours and there was this room with a bunch of chairs. Will and I were so exhausted we just started walking around these chairs in circles and started singing the children’s song “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho” and laughing.
Audrey was finally discharged and we got to go home. Once we got home Audrey had about two weeks of really, really bad reflux where she was throwing up a ton. We finally got her the right reflux medicine and things started calming down. We never really knew “normal” with Audrey at that point because we only had 2 weeks with her when she was born when she went to the hospital for the first time. At two weeks she was put on oxygen and the doctors knew she would have surgery sometime soon. So, when we got home from her surgery and everything was over, it was like we could finally relax a little and find a new “normal”.
This has definitely been the hardest year of our lives. We are so thankful for Audrey’s medical team and care but it has been so hard. After her surgery, her left pulmonary artery was stretched to the main pulmonary artery. The left artery is now very thin, so she has gone in for angioplasties to stretch it out. At first she was going every 3 months, then every 4 months and now it will be every 6 months. We’ve finally gotten a little more used to the angioplasties. For the last angioplasty a couple months ago, Audrey didn’t even need to stay the night. The doctor said her body is getting used to these procedures and her artery is stretching.
So we celebrate today being a year past Audrey’s open heart surgery, but we also celebrate getting through this year. We feel like it’s a symbolic new beginning with hope for the next chapter. Audrey is such a joy. She is beautiful in all it’s meanings. We praise God for Audrey and all that He has done in her life and in ours this year.