It’s extremely difficult for me to speak publicly about such a personal and sensitive matter. However with it being the new year, I feel it would be a step in the right direction to just be vulnerable with our daunting life situation. After all, it's necessary for me to speak on behalf of our unborn son, of which all of this involves.
This being our first pregnancy, it started off fairly normal. First of course, was the surprise and the thrill of passage into the unknown that is parenthood, along with all the many pending moments of joy and growth that would come along with it. It was surreal to know that this time had actually come.
We opted for an all-natural birth in a birthing center with a midwife, as opposed to an all-intervention, conventional birth in a hospital. After careful research, we found the perfect birthing center and I was beyond elated. To make it all the more exciting, we found out we're having a little boy! He's due February 28, 2018 - right around the corner! We felt so incredibly blessed, as it seemed everything was going perfectly as planned.
Then the call came from our midwife saying she needed to discuss our 20 week ultrasound results with us as soon as possible. I told myself this was probably just routine due to her attentiveness, so I didn't worry. I think every parent has that fear in the back of their mind that something might be wrong, but we of course chose to be optimistic.
The news she had to share was demoralizing to say the least. It appeared, she said, that they may have found an abnormality with our baby's heart. Although it was horrifying to hear these words, she reassured us by saying that at this stage it's always hard to tell what's really going on, reiterating that it almost always turns out to be nothing. We would still have to go in for further screening to make sure, she said. Still keeping our best faith and optimism, about a month later we went in for our Fetal Echo, a more in-depth ultrasound at Children's Hospital in Madera, CA.
On this day in early December the more in-depth tests were conducted, and afterward various neonatal and pediatric cardiologists entered the room and confirmed our worst fears.
They informed us that our baby does indeed have a congenital heart defect. They went on to elaborate on his condition.
This congenital heart defect is known as Transposition of the Great Arteries. With this defect, the aorta and pulmonary arteries of the heart are in switched positions. This disables the proper functioning of the heart to pump blood effectively and oxygenate the body. In utero he is perfectly fine, but transitioning to breathing air is when the condition becomes fatal.
They went on to say the only way he will survive is through a surgical procedure known as Arterial Switch - to switch the arteries to their correct positions.
This will all include immediate monitoring in the NICU upon birth, open-heart (bypass) surgery within the first few days of birth, and another 2 weeks or so in NICU following the surgery, as long as everything goes according to plan. There is the possibility he may need one or two other surgical procedures prior to and/or proceeding the arterial switch procedure, depending on his individual condition. There can also be other various complications throughout his life from his heart condition as well as performing this procedure.
Needless to say, we were left in complete shock and bewilderment at this new reality.
It was just as surreal as the moment I found out I was pregnant... except not awesome in the slightest bit.
Although this situation is far from how we envisioned welcoming our son in to the world, we are still incredibly grateful for many things. For starters, that this condition has a high surgical success rate, and the fact they caught it ahead of time (if they had not, it could've been a far more fatal situation). And most importantly, he will be taken care of by one of the best pediatric surgeons at one of the best hospitals in California.
This fundraiser is to help pay for the care of our son with all these costly specialist visits, surgical procedure(s) and lengthy stays in the hospital... of which the insane amount of bills we've already incurred is mind-boggling... considering he hasn't even been born yet.
Lastly, we wanted to offer something in return for your generosity in helping us.
Many of you may know, we have a soon-to-be-daddy who happens to be a professional photographer.
We wanted to offer portrait photos with a donation of $100 or more, and family portraits with a donation of $200 or more, as a thank you for your financial support. It may not be the most ideal depending on your location to us, but we truly want to give back in any way that is possible.
We'd also love to keep you updated on our family's progress throughout this whole ordeal with plenty of pictures and updates of us and Baby Riley.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for taking the time to hear our story. Although this is all very scary, we know we will pull through with our family, friends and community support.
Please share this with as many people as possible that you believe would like to contribute in any way - be it spiritually, emotionally or financially. We can use all the positive thoughts and prayers we can get.
Andrea, Damian & Baby Riley
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