We are very excited to report that Cora went for her post-surgical follow up at the cardiologist's today and is doing great! Her oxygen saturation is 100%,which is perfect for a normal healthy heart, and wonderful for a repaired heart. Her doctor originally wanted her at 92% or above. He said that her incision is healing well, and that the small scab remaining should heal just fine.
She had an EKG and an echocardiogram, and then he told us that her repair was perfect. There is no valve leakage, which is incredible, since valve leakage with this type of surgery is fairly common and will often require future monitoring, and even another surgery, in some cases. But he said that everything looks great and she should most likely not need any other procedures for her heart, ever. What incredible news. The only thing we have to do is give her antibiotics before any procedures done in the next 5 months, and then nothing beyond that. She will follow up in 6 months, and then probably only every couple of years after that.
It's hard to believe that my "heart baby" is going to have a healthy heart from here on out. When she was born, the prospect of surgery seemed so removed, and the process of waiting and then going through it seemed so scary. When we were told that she would go into heart failure and we would need to watch for those signs it sounded so big and so looming. And in the NICU when they put her on diuretics the first time it was still such a shock for me, that her heart problems were starting so soon. So hard to believe that they are already behind us. We even get to stop her heart medication today. Imagine a baby that will be off medication for the first time. So thrilling.
During our conversation, the cardiologist again referred to the fact that she was in such significant heart failure before surgery. This doesn't mean that the heart has stopped working. It means that the heart can't pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. Lack of oxygen, pulmonary edema, and the pulmonary hypertension that result are the life-threatening results. I know of another mother whose precious daughter's life was cut short at 4 months old as a result of the hypertension, most likely from waiting too long for surgery.
Thinking of this, I feel a sharp pang in my own heart, remembering how the skin at Cora's ribs sucked in with each breath, how fast and labored her breathing was, how pale her skin, how much she fought to eat barely half of what she needed to grow, how she gagged and wretched, fighting to keep her food down. And I know that in another time my girl would not even be alive right now. That even if she hadn't already starved from her inability to eat, her body would have given out and she wouldn't even be with us. And I am so, so grateful for the medical care, for the surgeon, the doctors, the nurses, the medication, and the equipment that have saved my baby's life. Because now we get to "treat her like any other baby," and watch her grow and thrive and live.
And we get to watch her smile, laugh (Yes, she started laughing yesterday), talk, coo, and practice holding her head up while sitting, stare for hours at her feet, learn to use those sweet little hands, and continue to captivate and charm us on a daily basis. Every day really is so precious with her. I know that soon enough, the days of fear and of watching her struggle just to breathe will be in the distant past. We will get to have a lifetime to get to know her and to enjoy her and to help her overcome the other hurdles that will present themselves as she grows.
Thank goodness for it all.