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Baby Katherine - Week 2

Our Third Arrow

We have another blessed addition to our family. This has been a very interesting, yet rewarding, experience for us. First, many know that we have struggled with infertility ever since our first born. After seven years since Brenna was born, God has blessed us yet again. Second, over the last couple of years, our family has been going through a transformation in our health philosophy. One of the outworkings of this transformation is the decision to have a homebirth. However, due to Ronette's high blood pressure, we had to go to the emergency room which led to Ronette giving birth via cesarean section. Furthermore, our daughter was born with a congenital heart defect. While this situation is still unfolding, we are already seen God working in so many ways. Quite often we don't see this until some time later. Our hope is that everyone who visits this page will see the providence of God in all things and glorify Him accordingly.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

With all the activity since last week our family has not been able to see our chiropractor. Fortunately, he has become a good family friend and asked if he could meet us at CHOC to give us an adjustment and see Katherine. He met us at noon and got the opportunity to see Katherine and pose for a nice photo (see below).

Dr. Jouvenat calls to see if we can see him at 3:00pm to examine Ronette's incision. We are blessed that he is willing to see us on the weekend. Despite the size of the opening, everything still looks like it is doing fine. He wants to see Ronette again tomorrow afternoon. That way, if she is still doing well she probably won't have to worry about getting it rechecked until Tuesday. Our prayer is that the incision will stay healthy and Ronette will heal completely in time so she will be available for Katherine during post-surgery.

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Dr. Brian Stanton pays a visit to his future client. Katherine has a strong grip on Ronette's finger. Brenna has to make a new picture for Katherine since her last one got lost in the transfer from UCI to CHOC.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Ronette sees Dr. Jouvenat again to have her incision looked at. Don goes in with her hoping to be shown how to pack it. Her opening is still over two inches wide and about a half-inch deep. Dr. Jouvenat still wants to see Ronette on Saturday and Sunday since he knows she'll be at the hospital all day on Monday and possibly Tuesday for Katherine's surgery.

Jordan and Brenna are taken to Ronette's father and step-mother's house while we go to the hospital to spend time with Katherine and see how she is doing. We are told that they have slowed her tophic feeding to once every six hours since they were discovering risidual milk in her system when she is fed more often. After we returned from our dinner break during the 7:00 nursing shift change, we were informed that Dr. Bleiweis had made some rounds and wanted us to know that he would give us a call over the weekend.

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Baby Katherine relaxes and appears to fall into a nice deep sleep. Daddy once again kisses Katherine good night and offers a prayer for her. Mommy holds Katherine's hand, letting her know she is there for her.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

While visiting Katherine we run into Dr. Bleiweis. He tells us that Katherine's surgery is being delayed until next Monday. Katherine's arteries are still at a high resistance which means medicine would have to be used to allow good blood flow during surgery. Dr. Bleiweis would prefer to allow the arteries to become less resistant on their own which would happen naturally for new borns. Because he already has a morning surgery on Monday, Katherine will likely be operated on between noon and 1:00pm.

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Baby Katherine sleeps with one of the blankets Ronette had made. A close up view of Katherine. The yellow tube going through her left nostril is how they will feed her Ronette's milk. Ronette loves to be with her daughter as much as possible.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Our whole family visits Katherine. Dr. Bleiweis leaves a message for us that their case study that morning went as expected. Katherine's surgery is currently being planned.

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Brenna and Jordan watch over their little sister. Brenna looks after Katherine hoping she'll get better. After all, they are supposed to be roomates. Brenna can hardly wait until they are able to share a room together. Jordan surrounds his new sister with his arms of love.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Our good friend Dr. Brian Stanton, who is our family's chiropractor, tells us that his former office worker Ashley is the daughter of Dr. Vaughn Starnes, a leading pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon and pioneer of a procedure used to correct Ebstein's Anomaly. Dr. Starnes also would have been Katherine's surgeon if she had been transferred to Los Angeles. As a favor, Dr. Brian arranges a phone conversation between Don and Dr. Starnes.

After getting updated with Katherine's situation, Dr. Starnes confirms that she is being taken care of in the way that is required. He provides Don with some advice on what to ask Dr. Bleiweis. However, overall Dr. Starnes believes that Katherine is in good hands citing that Dr. Bleiweis has a good reputation.

Don's parents, Dave and Chris, come to see Katherine for the first time since seeing her through the window at Placentia-Linda hospital. In answer to prayer, Brenna is granted permission to see Katherine. Both children come to the NICU to meet their new sister for the first time. Brenna now feels much better.

Dr. Bleiweis comes up to the NICU to meet us and discuss how they plan to move forward. He informs us that the cardiologists and surgeons get together on Wednesday mornings to discuss their cases. Although Dr. Bleiweis has not yet seen Katherine's scans, he is convinced that tomorrow's discussion will lead to a decision to perform the same surgeries that Dr. Kiciman had been describing. We are immediately put at ease with Dr. Bleiweis based on his experience with Ebstein's Anomaly and ability to communicate sensitively with us. We also learn that Katherine's size is to her advantage from a surgical perspective. Therefore, this is another praise to God. Even though Ronette was miserable and anxious to give birth at 42 weeks, these extra two weeks were able to give Katherine more mass before being under NICU care.

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Grandma Chris and Grandpa Dave see Katherine up close for the first time. Big sis Brenna is finally allowed to see her new sister. Jordan pats his sister on the head letting her know how much she is loved.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Ronette is visited by Dr. Jouvenat and is told that she can be released this morning but she must come to his office in a couple of days to get her staples removed. Don picks her up with the kids and she is taken home so she can get cleaned up and changed.

We take Jordan and Brenna to the Esposito family's house and then go to UCI. Ronette sees Katherine for the first time since she was transferred out of Placentia-Linda Hospital last Friday. The nurses allow both of us the opportunity to hold her.

Dr. Kiciman meets with us and gives us an update on Katherine's condition. It is decided that it would be better to transfer her to CHOC that evening. This will allow Dr. Bleiweis and the rest of the team to monitor her and be better prepared for her surgery. CHOC informs UCI that they will be there at 6:30pm to do the transfer.

Our plan is to stay with Katherine until the CHOC transfer team arrives. However, they call saying they will now arrive at 8:00pm. We decide to get some dinner and and then pick up the kids. It is now 8:30pm so we decide to go visit CHOC to make sure Katherine arrived and to become familiar with the facility. When we check in at the lobby they tell us she hasn't arrived yet. While waiting in the lobby we are told that it is unlikely Brenna will be permitted to see Katherine in the NICU since her vaccination records are not current. This is very upsetting for us since she was unable to see Katherine at UCI as well. We begin praying that some exception will possibly be made, if even for a few minutes.

After waiting in the lobby for another 45 minutes, we are finally notified that Katherine's transfer has been held up because CHOC requires our presence at UCI to authorize the transfer. Fortunately, they permitted a verbal authorization and Katherine arrived by 10:00pm. We were brought up to the 2nd floor waiting room and NICU to see Katherine for a few minutes. CHOC requested that we wait to sign some documents but they had to attend to another baby first. We were finally able to get the paperwork signed and on our way back home around midnight. This exhausts the whole family but Ronette is especially worn out having just been released from the hospital.

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Once again Katherine makes eye contact (albeit sleepily) with mommy. Ronette holds her daughter for the first time. Katherine is returned to her bed so UCI can finish preparations for her transfer to CHOC.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Ronette begins pumping, hoping that she can help her daughter in the only way that now seems possible. However, she was never successful at feeding Jordan and Brenna naturally so there is concern that she will not be able to produce enough milk again. We are now praying that Ronette will be able to produce enough milk for when they are ready to feed Katherine.

Don goes to UCI to meet with Dr. Kiciman. He is shown the echocardiogram which tracks the flow of blood in the heart. There is no indication that any blood is passing through the pulmonary artery. Therefore, he is convinced that Katherine will require surgery to overcome her defect. One of the doctors that Dr. Kiciman recommends for this surgery is Dr. Mark Bleiweis who works out of CHOC. This is an answer to prayer since CHOC is only about 10-15 minutes away from our house. We are told her surgery might take place in the coming week.

One of the questions on our mind is how Katherine is getting her oxygen if there is no oxygenated blood going to her pulmonary artery. Dr. Kiciman explains that inutero there is a special duct (ductus arteriosus) that connects the pulmonary artery (which feeds the lungs) with the aortic artery (which feeds the body). Usually this automatically closes within 24 hours after birth. Through special medication called prostaglandin E1 (PGE1) the baby's body reacts as if it is still inutero thereby keeping the duct open and quite possibly alive.

As disappointing as the loss of our homebirth is, we are now praising God. Even though we can't predict how the homebirth would have proceeded, it is possible that Katherine's problem would not have been detected immediately. Therefore, our emergency cesarean section put our daughter in a situation where her condition was able to be detected within the narrow time frame necessary to keep her duct open and possibly alive.

That evening Don is able to visit Ronette for a special "candlelit" dinner that Placentia-Linda Hospital provides for new parents. The meal is actually quite good which included shrimp cocktail, chicken cordon bleu, and cheesecake. Ronette is progressing very well and is hoping to be released by the next morning, although Dr. Jouvenat believes it will likely be closer to tomorrow afternoon or evening.

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Katherine's digs are redecorated courtesy of Brenna's picture and Jordan's blanket. She is looking nice and cozy with her afghan and cap. Still cozy, different angle...