Today at 8am, Audrey’s ICU “suite” was turned briefly into a sterile operating room. The team of doctors and nurses came to her instead of risking any one thing to take her back to the OR where her surgery began.
They weren’t able to complete her whole surgery last Tuesday…most of it, yes. But the final step, the completion if you will, was left undone. The closure of her chest cavity.
For days I watched the rhythmic beat of her heart in close harmony with the rise and fall of her chest. This morning, we arrived at the hospital to see her heart once more before the window was closed.
Most parents have never seen their child’s beating heart, but we all feel them. We know them. A piece of our own hearts lives inside our children.
A success it was, the closure of her chest. And as Audrey’s incredible nurse said today, the day was spent getting to know her as a patient again. Learning what medications she needs to be stable, just how much oxygen her lungs require to breathe, and so many other details impossible to remember. Overall, her day was positive and moved in the direction they had hoped.
She will spend the next week or so continuing to recover under critical care and observation. She has several hurdles to overcome before she would be able to move back to the NICU.
Fluid and swelling need to come way down, but she’ll need to be able to stabilize her blood pressure at the same time. This has been a bit of a challenge thus far. Once the fluid is no longer a concern, they can begin the slow and patient process of weaning her from the vent which is breathing completely for her. She has been on heavy pain medication for so many days in a row, once she no longer needs it, they will have to taper quite slowly to keep from shocking her system. They will reduce the paralytic once again and watch her movements carefully. And many, many other pieces of the intricately detailed puzzle.
They weren’t able to use the “hidden” sutures preferred, instead hers are visible and will leave a significant scar. However, down the road a few months when her second open heart surgery takes place, the scarring should be cut away and upon completion of the surgery, her chest closed with a less severe looking scar.
Each day, we hope to see her make improvements, while being realistic that there may be set backs along the way. We must celebrate each victory, large or small, and be patient with her exceptionally weak and stressed body. She seems to be somewhat easily stressed by stimulation such as being moved, chest oscillation, tightening of her blood pressure cuff, etc.
I wonder what all of this feels like to her. How much of it does she actually sense? I’m reminded again of the first week of her life when I wanted so badly to hold her in my arms, here we are again. But while my arms may be empty of Baby Audrey, my heart is full of her. Of Cooper. Of Chris. I am so incredibly thankful that I get to embrace my boys any time I want. I think that sadly I take that for granted so much of the time.
Thank you for choosing to join us in loving thoughts and prayer this morning. Prayers were heard and once again answered. I believe in it, the power of it. This continuance of love and support is a gift you give to Audrey and her family. You follow through and for this we are forever grateful. We’ll need you more, we’ll need you often. We can never repay you, only can we pay it forward.
Thank you for reminding us that we’re not alone.
Sleep sweetly, dear warriors,