Saturday, July 16, 2011

James' Heart

As I mentioned earlier, James was born 5 weeks early.  His mom (that'd be me...) had severe pre-eclampsia.  And diabetes.  And a wonky x-chromosome.  And is practically blind.  But anyway...  where was I?  Oh yes, the pre-eclampsia was the cause of his early delivery.  I was told that I was going to have a stroke sooner rather than later if we left him in there for any longer.  After a brisk (and I mean brisk, I seriously yelled) pelvic exam, my doctor told me the obvious - I wasn't dilated or effaced or at all ready to birth a baby (no kidding, I drove myself to my appointment, my Maryland parents were in Florida on vacation, Adam was in DC, and Jackie was in WV).  So unprepared for the baby that day?  Yes.  Nonetheless, James was having it his way, 8 hours after my scheduled appointment that day we had a baby.  I would say a baby in our arms, but due to being so early, James had Respiratory Distress Syndrome.  The basic explanation for this was that the little balloons in his lungs were having trouble inflating.  Like that first puff into a real balloon that hurts, but after its started you have no problem filling it the rest of the way up.  So into the NICU he went. 
Thank you,
There we also discovered that he has a VSD - Ventricular Septal Defect.  Its the most common form of congenital heart defects and may (that's a big may, there's no "real" explanation for why James has it) be because he has a diabetic mom.  It has nothing to do with his preemie status, although it gave us one more thing to be on our toes about.  James was discharged after 10 days in the NICU, and by that time we'd already made our appointment at Johns Hopkins Pediatric Cardiology.
When James was a mere 6 weeks old, we took our first trek there.  It was by far one of the most intense days of my life.  I felt like crap, literally, awful from my 8 days in the hospital.  Coming home was a bit restful, but I was still caring for a newborn.  Everyday when Adam would come home it was like this huge weight was lifted, even though James was probably the easiest baby anyone could ask for.  At Hopkins we met Dr. Brenner, the head of the department.  James had an EKG and a cardioechogram and we discussed his case with the doctor.  James has a very small VSD, the big cause for concern is that its in the upper area of the wall between the ventricles, towards the middle of his heart, near the aortic valve.  If the hole in his heart closes, its good news.  But if it closes and happens to catch the valve, leaving it open, there could be a problem and he'd have to have surgery to correct it.  But overall, we were told that we'd be back in a year and at that time, James would be a happy, healthy, thriving 1 year old.
A better view of the aortic valve and wall between the ventricles
So next week, we go back for his check up.  I'm sure it will be very bit as intense as last year, although we've had some time to gear up for it.  After the appointment I will post an update!


  1. Oh my goodness, Chelsea. I knew that James had to be born very suddenly because of your risk of stroke, but never knew all the details. James (not to mention his parents) has had quite a bit of excitement in his young life. But it sounds like he's got an excellent physician, and that's priceless! I'm glad that all of you are in such good hands. I'll be thinking good thoughts and look forward to hearing how it goes in next week's checkup.

  2. I think when the whole story is written down, it looks pretty dramatic, but I was so out of it, that it was easy to just daze out a bit. I feel bad for Adam during the whole time, he was still commuting to work and taking care of the house, etc. We are thinking the doctor will just tell us to come back in a year again! Thank you for sending good vibes our way, we can always use them!