Monday, August 23, 2010

Every Heart has a Story

Every Heart Has a Story

I love this idea of Stef's and even though most everyone knows Hope's story, I thought it would be good to join the blog party and share it here as well.

My husband and I found out Hope would be born with HLHS (hypoplastic left heart syndrome) on May 13, 2009.  It is a day that I will never forget and the scariest day of our lives.  We know when we went for the fetal echo that Hope had a heart problem, but we really figured it was something 'minor' (not that there are really any minor heart defects).  My in-laws have some CHDs...holes and stuff that were fixed.  Never did we think or even know a baby could be born with 1/2 a heart.

We had already named Hope (after Hope Brady from Days of our Lives), but her name truly fit when we found out.  We also found out at that appointment that they were not able to find one of her kidneys.  We spent the next week couple of weeks having appointments and meeting with the surgeon and many other people that would help us through our pregnancy.  It was difficult because we had to make a decision whether to terminate the pregnancy or carry Hope to term and go through with 3 surgeries that may (or may not) save her life.  We did a lot of soul-searching, talking, crying, screaming, laughing, and even more crying and decided to give Hope a chance at life. 

My pregnancy was pretty normal and I have always loved being pregnant.  I would have a ton of appointments and finally got to the point where I made the choice to only go once a month.  My OB wanted to see me more often and have more echos and more ultrasounds, but I found that I was depressed after them, so I decided to try and make it as normal as possible.  That really helped my sanity. 

On September 9th everything changed.  I went in for a regular appointment and an ultrasound to check my fluid.  Low and fluid was low.  I never had that before and I was scared and so were the doctors.  I was admitted for observation that day and would remain in the hospital until Hope was born.  It was the hardest part of my pregnancy and scared my whole family.  It was also very depressing because I spent the whole day thinking about Hope and worrying about something happening to her.  I can't explain all the feelings I went through from that date until she was born, but it was hard.  I was checked every day to see how much amniotic fluid I had and every day it was fine.  On the morning of the 14th, I told the OB on duty that if it was still at a good level I wanted to go home.  Of course, it had dropped to an unacceptable level and they decided to induce me.  At 3pm, the pitocin started and so did the waiting.  I finally asked for them to break my water at 6pm because the pitocin wasn't doing much at all.  Our families were all there for most of my labor and it was nice to spend time with everyone and not have to wait through the hours by myself.  Of course Jerry was at work and I called him as soon as I found out, but I also knew it would take a couple hours for him to get there.

Hope Jane Wodzisz was born on September 14th at 10:01 pm.  She weight 5 pounds 12 ounces and was 18 1/2 inches long.  Her APGAR was 8 and 9.  She was screaming and kicking and looked so good.  Once she was born, we had them put in her prostin drip in her umbilical cord.  We dressed her up in her Christening gown and the pastor came and Christened her.  Our whole families were there for us and for our daughter.  It was beautiful!  We also had Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep there to photograph everything because we were not sure if she would be born kicking or screaming or not.

Hope was transferred by ambulance to the Children's Hospital at 12:30 that night.  Jerry and I followed in our truck (I was not officially released, but they let me go for a few hours).  Hope was in NICU and looked so cute and so small.  They started her on IVs and made her comfortable.  She took to the binkie almost immediately and looking was the greatest thing they could have done for her.  We got back to the General Hospital around 3am and slept for a few hours.  I forgot to get discharged that morning, so they kept calling over to the Children's Hospital until I went back at 6pm to beg for a discharge.  NICU sent us home at midnight to get some sleep.  It was the hardest thing I have ever done...leave my baby at the hospital and go home. 

Fast forward to September 21st.  Hope was scheduled for her Norwood on the 22nd and the morning of the 21st we met with the other surgeon (ours was at a seminar) as well as nephrology, genetics, and a whole bunch of other people.  It was and will remain one of the worst days of my life.  We were told that because of Hope's kidney problem (I forgot to add...they did find her left is small and in a different spot, but God answered a lot of prayers) and the chromosome issue she shares with Jerry (that's another story altogether) they did not feel comfortable doing the surgery.  They told us that if she made it through the surgery, she would probably go into kidney failure.  I don't think many people could imagine how we felt that day.  They basically told us to take our healthy looking daughter who did not need to be intubated yet home to die.  Jerry and I broke down and left the hospital.  We drove home...probably not a good idea...and set about figuring out what to do.  We knew we wanted to give Hope a chance.  I got on the phone and Internet and tried to find someone that would help us.  I found our miracle.  Dr. Mavroudis is from Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital and it was fate.  His wife's name is Martha (my mom's name is Martha).  His daughter's name is Paula (of course, my name is Paula).  It was destined for us to go to there!

Jerry and I went back to the hospital and put in the request to get Hope's stuff together and the Clinic sent an ambulance for our little girl.  It was too windy for air transport, so Hope went by land.  It was a long drive, but we are so thankful everything happened so quickly and Hope did so well on the ride.  We made it to the Clinic around 11pm and Hope was in PICU.  They sent us home that night and told us to get some sleep and come back in the morning to meet with the whole team of doctors.

We met with everyone the next day and even got to meet Dr. Mavroudis.  Hope's surgery was scheduled for September 30th and Dr. Mavroudis told us that even though she had more medical issues than some hypoplasts, as long as we knew the risks, he was happy to do the surgery.  What a lovely feeling...there was no doubt!

On September 29th, Hope was intubated.  They wanted her to get used to the breathing tube before her surgery.  The following morning Jerry and I cried as we handed Hope over to Dr. Mavroudis.  Our whole family was with us waiting for hourly updates.  It was hard, but we really felt she would do fine.  We spent 10 hours waiting to see Hope.  The updates were pretty good, but we were worried the whole time.  So many feelings and thoughts went through our heads and our hearts were heavy with worry.  At 6pm, we finally got to see Hope.  It was hard...harder than I ever imagined.  She was so swollen and her heart was beating under a piece of tape.  I was able to see her tiny heart beating...the scariest thing I have ever seen. 

The next month was a flurry of activity and I could go on for a long time, but I won't.  Hope was released on October 28th....6 weeks after she was born.  She was released on NG feeds...meaning we had to learn to feed her through a tube (after she had her bottle) and how to change the tube.  It was nerve-racking and hard for me to imagine.  Jerry finally talked me into learning how to do it and then we were able to get released.  What a feeling...HOME! 

The next few months were a whirlwind of activity and appointments.  It was such a wonderful time for our whole family.  The boys loved having Hope and mommy home all the time.  We didn't go out much and it was hard, but we didn't want Hope to get sick.  We even pulled Jerry from preschool to make sure he didn't bring anything home either.  We spent every holiday home together as a family.  It was a dream come true.  Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas...all at home with our beautiful children.

February 25th Hope went in for her pre-Glenn catheterization.  It was her first cath and it was just as hard for us to go through as her surgery.  Handing your child over to anyone that is going to intubate them and do anything is amazingly difficult.  It does not get any easier...ever.  Hope had to spend 2 nights at the hospital after her cath because her sats just wouldn't go up.  It was hard and it scared us so much because she was doing so well before it. 

March 8th Hope went in for her Glenn.  Another day that will remain in my memory forever.  We knew our little girl, her personality, her temper, we had her home for so many months.  Handing her over for the Norwood was hard...the Glenn was harder.  I don't know why, but it was.  I broke down and really didn't want to hand her over.  She was so happy when they came to get her that morning.  She was laughing and smiling and looked like she trusted us so much.  It was heartbreaking. 

Hope did great.  They did have to put her back on ECMO a few times because they made her LPA bigger.  It was hard to sit in the waiting room and hear them tell us that they took her off and then put her back on.  Dr. Mavroudis came to see us after the surgery and told us that there were a few minutes in surgery that he was worried...which made me worry too.  She did great though.  She recovered with just a little minor setback.  She was home in 6 days.  Imagine...home 6 days after open heart surgery.  UNBELIEVABLE!

May 13th Hope had a catheterization to balloon her pulmonary artery.  When they made it bigger in surgery it grew some scar tissue.  This happens a lot, but I prayed it would not happen to Hope. 

It is now the 23rd of August and Hope will turn 1 year in a couple of weeks.  She is on a quarter an aspirin a day.  She takes the bottle and loves all kinds of food.  She is crawling and wants to walk.  She pulls herself up, but won't really take a step.  She is smiling and starting to talk and just being a regular 11 month old little girl.  We are so proud and this journey has brought us closer as a family, to God, and to many new heart families!


  1. Wow Paula. It brings tears to my eyes to read that because of your and your husbands adovacating for Hope is the only way she is still here. THAT is why you were chosen to be her parents. I've loved getting to know you and Hope and can't wait to watch her grow up. :)

  2. Reading about Hope again just reminds me of what a blessing that little girl truly is. I pray she continues to grow. I can't wait to see her all grown up. You have been through so much, I am so proud of you. You are an amazing woman. ((HUGS))

  3. Thanks Paula for joining the blog event on my blog! It is great to get these stories out there and to hopefully inspire other parents to be such strong advocates for their little ones as well!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Gosh, reading all of these puts a person through the emotional wringer!! I'm so thankful to have the chance to be connected to families like yours and to know stories like Hope's, so that when we find out what Ewan's story is going to be, that we can remember we are not alone: many have walked this path before us, and so bravely.

  5. Thanks for sharing your story, our heart babies are truely amazing :O) Xx

  6. What an amazing journey you've had so far! I'm always excited to find new Heart Families to follow. Yes, the misdiagnosis has caused me many sleepless nights. I am very proud, however, that our Pediatric Cardiologst is part of the group working on the mandatory pulse ox screening for all babies (with 1 in 100.) This is one area that we can easil address now, and they seem to be making real progress! It's exciting to see. I'm looking forward to following Hope's journey!

  7. What an amazing brings tears to my eyes when I remember what the hospital said in regards to Hope's first surgery. Thank goodness she has such wonderful parents who would do anything for her :)

    Stephanie and Braeden(HLHS)

  8. Hope is a beautiful baby, truly a blessing :)

  9. Wow, I've been reading your blog for a while but I didn't know Hope's whole story. I'm so glad you shared!

    Hope is proof that as parents we have to trust our instincts. I'm so glad you guys were such great advocates for her and got her the best care possible! She is absolutely precious and such a miracle!