Here’s my birth story for my second son Theo. It was a very different birth story compared to George. It’s a long story, so grab a snack and a cup of tea and read on.
In September 2016, we found out news about Theo’s heart. We were told he had heart problems. He has a ventricular septal defect (VSD) which is a hole in his heart. He also has the heart defect transposition of the great arteries (TGA) which means the arteries are switched. Theo has a heart disease called double outlet right ventricle (DORV) which is the aorta connects to the right ventricle instead of the left. Ivan and I were really sad, scared and worried since we didn’t know much about all his problems. It was really hard to deal with some days. I would be so sad I would cry for hours. I knew baby would have to have surgery, but hearing open heart surgery sounded even scarier since I knew that they would have to cut him open.
Dr. Luna and Dr. Acherman and our doctor Dr. Wilkes (who would be delivering Theo) were very hopeful that baby would be just fine.
We soon learned a lot about his heart problems from the cardiologists (Dr. Luna, Dr. Acherman and Dr. Galindo) and the heart surgeon Dr. Ciccolo at Children’s Heart Center. We weren’t sure exactly what would happen when he was born since it mattered on how his heart was at birth. Dr. Ciccolo told us the different options that might happen. I was told that I should deliver at Sunrise Children’s Hospital since the doctors would do the procedures there, otherwise he would be transported there after birth. We knew Theo would be taken shortly after birth to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The doctors said that he probably wouldn’t be able to come home until 4-6 weeks after he was born since he has to learn how to feed.
We got to tour the NICU beforehand and see other heart babies. It was sad, but prepared us for Theo’s stay at the NICU. Ivan and I were so glad that we had an amazing children’s heart hospital only 25 minutes away from our house. A lot of parents with heart babies have to travel far or relocate while their baby gets care and to give birth.
I was scheduled for a C-section on December 7. I was glad that I had an exact date and time since last time I labored for 2 days since I wanted a natural birth. I ended up getting a C-section since George wasn’t coming out. I’m glad I didn’t have to go through all the labor pain this time around.
Ivan and I welcomed our new son on Dec. 7, 2016. Theo was born via C-section right before noon. He weighed in at 7 pounds 1 ounce which was one ounce lighter than George. There were a lot more people in the room with all the doctors monitoring Theo’s health.
I was still in pain from the C-section. But, I was allowed to see Theo that night. Ivan took me up in a wheelchair. It was hard to see him all hooked up with tubes and connected to machines to make sure he was getting fluids, medicines and oxygen. I felt helpless and sad. He looked so much like his brother George.
Two days later on December 9, 2016, Theo had the atrial septostomy done with a cardiac catheter. The catheter is a thin tube that in inserted into a blood vessel that leads to the heart. It’s amazing what doctors can do these days. Dr. Galindo stopped by and told us that the surgery went well. The doctors would meet on Monday to decide what would be the next step for Theo.
The nurses at the NICU told me to pump and gave me bottles so I could store the breast milk. I kept trying but milk wasn’t coming out yet.
I got to go home later on Dec. 9th. Ivan really wanted to get out of the hospital since he missed George so much. It’s not fun being in the hospital even though it was easy visiting Theo upstairs at the NICU.
We went to visit Theo everyday to see and talk to him. We hung up pictures of Ivan, me and George to make sure he knew that we were there even if we physically couldn’t be there. Unfortunately, George wasn’t able to visit since it’s flu season. Sunrise Children’s Hospital has a Ronald McDonald’s room where children and families can visit. The room has food, drinks, tv, toys and books. Ivan and I would take turns visiting Theo while the other watched George in the McDonald’s room. It was great that my parents and our friend Maria were able to babysit George so we could both see Theo at the same time. We wanted to spend as much time with him as possible. Ivan and I were sad because we didn’t think he would be home for Christmas.
Dr. Ciccolo talked to us on Dec. 12th about what would happen next for Theo. The doctors want his heart to develop more. Theo will have surgery when he’s 6-9 months depending on his health. They will perform the Rastelli procedure which is putting a patch on the hole in his heart and closing the pulmonary valve and putting in an artificial pulmonary or aortic conduit to allow oxygen depleted blood to travel to the lungs for reoxygenation.
He was slowly being taken off the medicine and the fluids. Theo has been a brave baby. He was gaining weight. My milk finally came in on December 10th, so I started pumping a lot. I got to hold him for the first time on Dec. 11th.
Theo was taken off oxygen on Dec. 12th and he was given breast milk by bottle for the first time which he loved. A lot of NICU babies have to be fed through a dropper at the beginning. It was great to see him without the tubes in his nose.
I kept bringing in my pumped breast milk. On December 14th, the nurse on duty told us they would slowly increase his milk. Once he was drinking 4 ounces every 3 hours, Theo would be able to come home. She said it would probably be in a couple of days. What, really?! We were so happy excited that he would be home so soon!
Baby Theo was able to come home on December 17, 2017, only 10 days after being born. He won’t have to be on a breathing machine when he’s at home like some heart babies do. He has been drinking 6 ounces every 3 hours. It turns out that he is a fighter and very resilient. I think he was sick of all the beeping of the machines and the crying babies around him. We couldn’t wait until George got to finally meet his younger brother.
George got to meet Theo for the first time and he kept saying Ooooh! and pointing at him.
In challenging times, I think about what my former best friend Anna would say “What doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger”. This experience has definitely made me and Ivan closer since we’ve had to be there for each other emotionally. We will definitely be working together to bring up these two handsome boys. I’ve been getting used to taking care of two kids when Ivan is working. It’s been a big adjustment taking care of two kids instead of one. Breastfeeding has been a lot easier this time around. I did get sore nipples for a few weeks before I learned how to latch properly again. I knew that I would get it eventually, so I didn’t stress out as much like I did with George.