Tuesday, June 30, 2009

home sweet home!!!


Here we are right before our discharge from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia!  It felt almost strange but SO great to carry her away from her room without any wires!  I kept repeating:  "Are we really leaving?!"  It just didn't seem real...

When we pulled up to our house last night, we saw this sweet banner on our door!  My dear friend, Laura, gave us this wonderful greeting with Anniston's name, birth date, and birth weight/length on it...so special!  

We've had a big day of adjusting to life at home, and Anniston is doing very well considering! ha  She has been a little extra fussy today beyond the norm...maybe from gas or a side effect from her oral antibiotic that she just started?  Or maybe just from being in a new place and having so many people hold her?  It's definitely interesting figuring this little gal out!  All in all, she is doing wonderful, and I am pretty certain that she is happy to be home!!!  I know so many of you have prayed for the day to come when she would return home, and we are here to say that God has heard your prayers and has healed our baby girl!!!  Thank you and love you all!

Friday, June 26, 2009

hiatus


Anniston had a post-op echocardiogram (sonogram of the heart) done on Wednesday, and we received the results yesterday.  Everything from her surgery is looking wonderful!  Woohoo!  She was in the deepest sleep ever during the ultrasound and did not budge one bit...it was pretty funny.


One of our favorite bands, The Fray (!!!), was in town for a concert Wednesday night so we escaped the hospital for a bit and went on a lil date!  I wanted to feel guilty for leaving, but I can say now that this respite was much needed...we had a blast!


Speaking of taking a break:  I happened upon these two lounging this afternoon.

**It's looking like we will be discharged from the hospital on Monday!!  Anniston will have completed her IV antibiotics at this time, and we will be giving her the remainder of her medicine orally at home for 10 days...no big deal!**

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

hungry hungry hiccups



Future Lady Techster
Thank you Aunt Meg and Uncle Bryan for my cute outfit!

The days are really starting to fly now!  I guess the main reason for this rapid passage of our time is much due to the fact that Anniston began nursing yesterday and has done amazingly well ever since!!  What a praise!  Another praise is that her wound is looking "fantastic" in the words of one of the surgeons who has been monitoring her!  Thank you for your prayers because we know that it is only because of God that this active baby you see in the above video is doing so well!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

it's a tough life :)




(fyi:  The cuff on her arm is just there to protect the IV through which her antibiotics are given...)

Friday, June 19, 2009

a little longer


SO, it looks like we will be in PA for another 10 days :).  Because Anniston is so young, the doctors decided that she will need to conclude her IV antibiotics at the hospital.  Actually, after the 10 days we will be administering oral antibiotics for another 10 to 14 days once we get home.  She really is fine, they just would rather be over-cautious as to not put her at risk of relapse, no matter how small that risk might be.  I'm thinking this medical staff should be getting pretty sick of us right about now! ha  Oh well, it's not bad being here, and we're enjoying being able to parent more now that she's in the step-down room instead of intensive care.  I guess that's all for today...I'll try to post more pics tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

too cozy?


A couple pics from today in normal baby clothes!:

We've had some gassy smiles lately too :)

Not much news to share.  We're still waiting for the infection in the top of her incision to get better.  I guess I haven't said much about the wound from her surgery...the bottom half looks absolutely flawless, but somehow, the top of her incision didn't hold together very well.  Truthfully, I haven't really been able to look at it much, but the doctors say that it is improving.  Once this upper part of the wound produces a scab, we should be able to return home.  There must be a reason we're still here! 

Thank you everyone for your sweet e-mails and comments!  Much love to you all!!


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

looking up


Yesterday was kind of a down day for me and Stan...partly due to Anniston's infection and blood in her stool, but mainly because living this way was just starting to wear on us.  The doctors began discussing discharge with us a few days ago, and then it seemed that almost immediately little things began to pop up that had the potential of setting us back for at least another week.  In the long-run, this is not a significant amount of time at all.  I know the Devil was trying with all of his might to steal our joy because Anniston is doing SO well and because God has done such a mighty work 
in our little girl.

After receiving much prayer and encouragement, today was a completely different day!  It's like a weight has been lifted off of our backs compared to yesterday.  Anniston's wound is looking a little better, she doesn't have any more blood in her stools, and the goop in her eyes has almost completely disappeared!  ALSO, yesterday, the speech therapist came by to monitor one of our feedings, and she said that Anniston is the poster-child for swallowing!  AND, today, the immunologist told us that her T-Cell count was normal (meaning her immune system is good to go)!  Praise the Lord that Anniston is doing great in these areas!!

The doctors have narrowed down the medication to a single antibiotic to fight Anniston's infection, and her blood-work today confirmed that it is working.  This antibiotic needs to run at least a 3 week course to ensure that there is not a relapse of infection.  We hope to complete the antibiotics at home as
 soon as her incision heals.

**The biggest blessing in all of this is that our concerns right now are easily treatable and that her heart is working beautifully!!**

Sunday, June 14, 2009

so close...still need prayer!


Anniston in her first outfit...a cute lil hospital gown!
She started taking a full bottle yesterday, SO:

She doesn't have a feeding tube anymore!!  (Actually she pulled it out too, but they were ready to take it out anyway.)  *Note the sleepy-head trying to doze mid-feed in the above pic :).

We do have a some prayer requests.  Anniston has had a few small things come up today that mostly appear to be normal baby issues, but the doctors are of course monitoring her closely just to be safe.  She has some mucous in her eyes and has had a small amount of blood in a few stools.  The mucous seems to be no big deal, and while the blood seemed like a bigger issue to us, the doctors said it is pretty common, but they are keeping a close eye on it.  Anniston also has a small infection that was found after some cultures were taken today, so she is on some antibiotics.  The top of her incision has opened a good bit since her surgery, so the infection could have originated there.  Her vitals are perfect, she does not seem to be in any pain, and she is taking full feeds, so clinically there is nothing raising a red flag there.  Obviously, the doctors are not too concerned because they are planning on moving her to the step-down room tomorrow morning!  She really does look awesome, and she has only been crying when hungry so we are claiming that she is healthy and moving forward in her recovery!  Thank you for praying for our baby!

Friday, June 12, 2009

full tummy


Anniston took to the bottle today like a champ!  We were able to give her three feedings in a row this afternoon, and she guzzled about 3/4 of each bottle!  The nurse said that it's great when babies take in half that much after heart surgery...In other words:  She did AWESOME!!  They also took out her cannula (you can see that she still has the big, round stickers on her face that held it in place...we decided to let the nurse take them off and deal with Anniston screaming afterward :)), so we're down to her feeding tube through which the remainder of her bottle is 
given and her IV!

She likes being in her little burrito...

The nurse also said today that Anniston may be ready to move to a step-down room in the next couple of days where we can have more one-on-one time and privacy while we learn better how to care for her on our own!

**I heard earlier today that Hadassah's surgery went great and that she is in recovery!!  God is so good!!**

Thursday, June 11, 2009

progress!


We had such an encouraging day!  Anniston was able to have her ventilator removed this morning, and we were finally able to hold her again!  So now, all she has is her feeding tube, the cannula going into her nostrils to emit some oxygen (just precautionary...she doesn't need it), and an IV line in her left hand if they need to give her any meds or supplements.  

**I thought this was funny:  Anniston had a line of lipids/nutrients going into her umbilical cord, and the nurse told us this morning that she pulled it out!  They were going to take it out today anyway, so it wasn't a big deal.  She just wanted us to know that she's ready for the next step!

Now, we can pretty much pick her up whenever we want!  

In a couple of days, Stan and I will be able to attempt to feed Anniston with a bottle before she is eventually allowed to try nursing.  We're praying that she is responsive to the bottle, and that it will be natural for her to suck, swallow, and breathe all at the same time!

****

Tomorrow, Friday, baby Hadassah (daughter of Mark and Esther from home...LA) is having her third heart surgery in Boston.  Please pray for this sweet family and agree with them for a successful surgery and speedy recovery for their precious little girl!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

prayer focus


Anniston's doing great.  She does still have the breathing tube again, but they were able to start feeding her some of my milk through a feeding tube tonight, and we are VERY grateful for that progress.

I guess the bigger news of the day is that we talked to a geneticist about what caused this abnormality in Anniston's heart, and we wanted you all to know the results of their findings so that you will have something specific to pray for concerning our baby.  After running some tests on her blood-work, the genetics team determined that Anniston has a deletion, or missing piece, in her chromosome 22.  This deletion is often associated with Interrupted Aortic Arch and a few other issues.  These issues include immune difficulties, calcium deficiency, and possible speech problems.  The doctor said that if she were to have any of these difficulties, they are all completely treatable and should not last long.  Initially, this appears to be a mild case based upon Anniston's properly formed palette, her ability to coo, and normal development and proper measurements of her bones and organs.  Although we have seen many signs that she is perfectly healthy in all of these areas, we know that it cannot hurt to pray and believe that this syndrome will not affect Anniston as she continues to mature.  

Thank you all SO much for your prayers.  I was reminded today of the verse about friendship that says:  "If one falls down, his friend can help him up, but pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up."  Ecclesiasties 4:10  All of you have been this for me and Stan.  Your words of affirmation and consistent, fervent prayer to our Father have been such a source of strength for us.  You are loved and appreciated more than you know.

P.S.:  I can't believe she's a week old today!

Monday, June 8, 2009

update


We had a good day, but tonight was a little scary.  Yesterday, the doctors removed Anniston's ventilator, but after supper tonight, we returned to the hospital to find that she had been struggling to breathe, and they had to reinsert the tube.  Stan and I were discouraged since it was actually because of the previous ventilator that she was having difficulties tonight:  the tube irritated her trachea and caused some swelling and secretions.  It just seemed counterintuitive to us that they would want to put another tube in, but now we understand that it was necessary.  Anniston was given some medication to reduce the swelling in her trachea, and the tube is smaller, so we're praying that when they take it out, hopefully in the next couple of days, no further irritation or swelling will occur.  Hearing that she could barely breathe for a few seconds was so alarming to us, but we are grateful that she is doing better now and that the doctors just so happened to be right near her bed as she began to struggle.

Some good news is that Anniston had three lines removed from her heart today (these were wires going into her chest that they inserted during surgery to internally monitor the heart's performance and to medicate the heart if needed)...huge praise!  Her post-op X-rays have looked spectacular so far, her color is still great, her incision is perfect, her heart rate is steady, and after this ventilator is removed, we should be able to try to feed her!  I guess the biggest hurdles right now are her breathing and eventually her feedings.  Once these are established, we should get the clear to return home!  (They're estimating another 
week or two.)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

step by step


Anniston had her ventilator/breathing tube and catheter removed today, and her dressing covering her incision should be gone by tonight! We are also expecting many more tubes to be removed tomorrow! I will try to put up some more pics later tonight :).

Friday, June 5, 2009

big day!


Just had to share a few pics that we took before Anniston's 
surgery today:
Our first family pic!

Just thought she was cute crossing her fingers.  *I was not thrilled about them giving her a pacifier so soon, especially since I haven't been able to feed her yet, but they said that it would be better for her to work on her sucking reflex than to not practice it at all...makes sense.  Needless to say, I'm learning to be flexible :).

I said I would give more details on the surgery, but I really don't have much else to tell since it went so smoothly!  They did say that the place where the Aorta comes out of her heart is pretty small and that she will need to be looked at regularly during the first three to six months to make sure that it doesn't give her any problems, but her doctor does not anticipate that it will.  We would appreciate you praying that she will be strong and healthy with no further health issues down the road.  I can't tell you how much your prayers have meant to us.  It was ONLY because of God that we were able to have so much peace today!

This was my favorite pic.  She just looks too comfy in her 
daddy's arms...

giving God the glory!!


Just talked to the doctor:  Surgery went GREAT!!!!  There were NO complications!!!!  I will have to give more details later, but I just wanted you to know that our prayers as well as yours have been answered and to remind you all that God is FAITHFUL!  Keep praying for a miraculous recovery and that Anniston will have no complications in the future.  Love you all!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

another first



Her lil pod.

I made it to PA today, and everything is going great.  As you can see, I was able to hold Anniston for the first time, and it was wonderful.  The surgery will be tomorrow sometime mid-morning.  We do not know an exact time yet because there is another procedure before ours.  If we had to guess, we would say somewhere around 10am EST.  The physician's assistant told us that Anniston's surgery should last anywhere between 3 1/2 and 6 hours.

Something pretty random and neat happened today.  We met a family from Laurel, MS who have a daughter who is about to have her third surgery by the same surgeon as ours:  Dr. Spray.  We've heard a lot about Dr. Spray.  He is one of the best heart surgeons in the world, if not the best.  Anyway, the father of this family from Laurel was talking to us, and he said that he told Dr. Spray one day that "modern science can do some pretty amazing things, but you know what?  God has His hand on this place, and He is working miracles here."  To which Dr. Spray grabbed his hand and replied:  "I figured that out thirty years ago, and there is not a day that goes by that I don't give my mind and my hands to the Lord when I'm scrubbing up for surgery."  Isn't that amazing?!  I am so thankful that our surgeon, such a highly acclaimed man, trusts in the Lord and recognizes His power working through him.

Also, please lift up Hadassah, daughter of our friends Mark and Esther (from LA), who is having heart surgery tomorrow morning too (**Sorry, it's NEXT Friday; I was wrong**).  It's her third surgery, and they are at the children's hospital in Boston.  I'll have to tell you more about them later...they are AMAZING.

Love you all and are so encouraged by your words and prayers.  Will update tomorrow afternoon after Anniston's successful surgery!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

sweet moment


Stan just sent me these pics of him getting to hold Anniston for the first time today!

He also got to change her diaper, and because she's not as strapped down as she was, Anniston was able to hold his finger while laying on her "pod" as they call it.

He said he wouldn't let anyone else hold her so that I can 
be next :).

Anniston's surgery will be Friday morning, and my doctor is very pleased with how well I am doing, so I will be able to fly out with my parents bright and early tomorrow morning!  We are so thankful that my healing has been so speedy!  Seriously, my doctor came in this morning and was sincerely shocked to see that I had been walking a lot, that I'm just taking Ibuprofen for pain, that my incision looks perfect, that I've been eating solid foods, that I'm able to pump every few hours, etc, etc...  I know this could have been much worse, so I just want to thank God for His grace during this time.  (I'm resting too, I promise!)

Stan filled me in on the surgery, and there is much involved that I probably cannot accurately explain, but basically, things look the same as they did in Jackson, and the procedure is relatively straightforward while still being complicated.  Be praying that everything goes even more smoothly than the doctors could anticipate.  Also, there was some talk today of a chance that Anniston could need another surgery at some point in the future because her Aorta is very small at the place where it comes out of the heart, so pray that this will be a one-time event and that she will have no further complications with her heart.

Thanks!  I wish I could do better replying to texts and phone calls, but I will for sure try to do my best with updating everyone 
here :)...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

baby girl!!


Anniston Claire Martin, June 2nd, 2009

Anniston is here!!  Yesterday morning, we arrived at the hospital and were told a couple of hours later that her lungs were mature and that we could start the induction.  It wound up being around 3pm when they started the Pitocin, and long story short....I went from 3cm to 10 cm in about 6 hours, and then came the pushing.  We pushed for nearly 3 hours, and Anniston's head just could not get past my pelvic bones.  This is a problem that women on my mom's side of the  family have come up against in the past, so that could be the reason, or it could be that the induction did not allow my bones enough time to spread?  Oh well, we wound up needing a c-section, which went great, and now there is no longer a baby inside of me!  Anniston was born at 12:48am today, and she is 6lbs 9.4oz and 19 inches long!  I don't like seeing her with so many tubes everywhere, and I wish I could show you a picture of her without these things, but this is life right now, and we think she looks beautiful.

We do still need your prayers.  Earlier today, a cardiologist looked at her heart, and he saw most of the same things that they saw in the beginning.  A couple things are different, though, and we are praising God for them.  The VSD was still visible, and they continue to think the Aortic Arch is Interrupted, but the Arch did not look as small today as it once did, which is such a blessing!  They were thinking previously that they would need to enlarge the Arch, but today, the cardiologist said that he doesn't think that would be needed anymore!  Praise God!

The plan right now is for Stan to fly via medical jet with Anniston to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) tonight because they want to prepare her for surgery.  I wish I could go with them, but since I had the c-section, they want me to wait a couple of days.   

She is so strong.  Even through 3 hours of pushing, Anniston showed no signs of distress AT ALL.  She is big and pink, and she looks like any other perfectly healthy baby (which, we are still claiming and speaking that she is!).  We are thankful that God is in control and not us.  We know that He has a plan, and taking this day by day, it seems like going to PA is the next step that we are obviously supposed to take.  God is so powerful, and we want to continue to trust Him for complete healing.  We know that Anniston is much better off in His hands, and we also know that God sees EVERYTHING.  The WHOLE picture.  I can't even see the hand in front of my face most of the time.  I'm sure that He has already been so gracious to us in ways that we may never know about in this lifetime.  Stan and I feel so much peace right now, and we are looking forward to seeing what He has in store with this next step that we are taking.  We want to give Him the opportunity to astound us.  Thank you again for praying in faith and for letting us share our baby girl with you.