Saturday, May 30, 2009

18 Amazing Months!!

(This is Mason's hand motions for "SO BIG"!)

Add ImageHappy 18 months Mason!

It has been....

18 amazingly special months

18 amazingly long months

18 amazingly educational months

18 amazingly traumatic months

18 amazingly emotional months

18 amazingly busy months

18 amazingly joyful months

18 amazingly tiring months

18 amazingly crazy months

18 amazingly memorable months

18 amazingly prayerful months

18 amazingly miraculous months.....

since out little Miracle Mason was born!! My Life would be so different without him, less crazy for sure, but definitely not as special and not so full of daily miracles. I wouldn't trade it for anything!

Mason is happy as could be today. He has 16 pearly white teeth, weighs a whole 16 lbs 2 oz, is 29 in long, still doing his bum scooting, still tangling up in the O2 cord, still loves to cuddle and be held, and still thinks he needs to wake up and hangout with me every hour or to throughout the night! That's our Mason!

No new info about his heart, but he is down to 1 liter of O2. Much better than 2!! We will see Cardiology sometime in the next 2 weeks for another ECHO, but I don't have the date yet. We always are grateful for your continued support and prayers!

(Mason is helping us plant some flowers in the yard here.)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

G-tube or Not???

Earlier this month I mentioned the concern of Mason's weight gain and the recommendation of our pediatrician and cardiologist to add some tube feedings to his daily routine. The option for an NG (through the nose to the tummy) is pretty much out for an opinionated 18 month old who for the most part hasn't had one since he was 3 months old. We know the fight to keep that one in or out would probably burn more calories and more upset to his heart than would be worth it for little Mason. So, by pulling a few strings, our ped. got us into meet with a GI doc at Primary's (usually the wait is 3 months) to discuss a G-tube also known as a "button". Before we met with her I had to take Mason in for an upper GI (where the take x-ray images of him drinking barium). It showed a normal GI anatomy and no reflux. (So that means he wouldn't need the 'nissen' ......for the other heart mom's out there, you know what that is.... for those who don't, that is a procedure to help reflux issues).

During the appointment (on May 18) she showed us his growth chart. Here are the concerns 1)he has lost weight the last 8 weeks, a little over 1 lb. He was down to 15 lbs10 oz that day:(
2)he weighs too little when compared to his height- even for a heart baby :(

But there are a few things which can contribute to this: *genetics (2 of my other kiddos were also low on the charts at this age- Preston and Ammon, just not quite this low), *heart babies' little bodies burn more calories than a healthy baby, especially when surviving on one ventricle, *he has worked for his food since 3 months old, thus burning more calories....where as a lot of heart babies keep the NG because they won't eat, *he was and still is too picky to take 'breast milk+formula higher calorie fortified' bottles (he has only wanted the pure stuff and directly from the source!), *his heart failure burning even more calories.... although he eats a lot of calorie packed solids and still a lot of breast milk.....being a HLHS baby in heart failure he needs almost 3 times the calories as healthy babies his age!!

The Dr. explained how the G-tube is inserted and how it works. It is usually a same day surgery, but would probably require an overnight stay for Mason. This would be a good way to sneak in extra calories through out the day and night. But do we really want to put him through another surgery???

She gave us samples of some high calorie drinks, "Boost Kid Essentials 1.5" (355 cals per 8 oz) and "Pediasure" (237 cals per 8 oz) for Mason to try. If he will add these to his daily in take then maybe we won't need the surgery. If not, then this would be what we would feed him through the tube in addition to what he already eats orally.

I am so uncertain on what to do???! Moms of kiddos with a G-tube: What do you like and not like? Actually , I know it will come down to making sure Mason is getting enough nutrition and calories to grow ....and deciding what is best for him! For now, we plan to see how he does with these new drinks over the next 2 weeks. If he will drink them (although he won't take a bottle and doesn't really understand the 'no spill' sippy cups, I've either used a sippy cup that will drip or the Boost comes in a juice box type container w/ a straw which I squeeze it into his mouth and then he drinks it) and start gaining weight then we may hold off for now.

Now it's Friday May 29th, because I never finished this post......and GOOD NEWS.....I took Mason to the doctor today to weigh him....and he gained 8 oz in a week!!! Yay for Mason!
He weighed in at 16 lbs 2 oz (and his diaper wasn't eve wet)!! Still not up to where he had been before the pneumonia but, the added drinks must be working. He likes the Boost w/ the straw the best but will drink the others also. The Boost is quite pricey though at almost $2 an 8 oz box!!! Hey that's cheaper than a surgery right?!

So I will keep counting calories for little Mason and hope he can keep gaining on his own!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

True Emotions

The other night as I was rocking Mason, the house was quiet for everyone else was asleep, and just enough moonlight was shining in through our window so that I could watch my baby relax in my arms.
I began to cry as I thought about how absolutely beautiful he is on the outside, but yet so broken and sick on the inside. I feel honored to be his Mother and to be given the chance to care for him, but yet it breaks my heart to even imagine life without him. I feel blessed each day we have him here in our home but yet want to see him grow and enjoy life as other children do. I know some children w/ HLHS grow to adulthood but have seen others become Angels in Heaven before even becoming a toddler. Some days, as I get caught in the hustle and bustle of life (well, before we got re-attached to this 50 foot oxygen cord) I forget for a few minutes about his broken heart because he looks so normal and is always so happy and smiley! But, not a night has gone by since he was born, that I don't wake up startled and afraid that maybe my Miracle Mason has stopped breathing and his broken heart has taken him Home. I pray each day for Mason's heart to function better and that he can have many more days and years w/ us here on earth.

Mason, you are my strength and peace in life. May our dear Heavenly Father leave you here with me for a long time to come!!!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Life Can be So Complex!

(Sorry, this is quite long, but I am journaling all the details to help us remember everything about Mason's heart journey.)

First of all to follow up for my post from last week about Mason being sick.... Friday afternoon (the same day I had posted) I decided to take him back into the pediatrician, because his cough seemed to be getting worse and I did not want to end up in the ER over the weekend. He was acting sicker than when he had the pneumonia. So, our ped. who was pretty concerned w/how his lungs sounded, sent us over to the AF hospital for a chest x-ray and a 'nasal secretions' lab test (which tests for RSV and any other type of viral infection).

In the mean time Friday evening, I had a 'Mommy Meltdown' (I really am not Wonder Woman like so many of you think....the reality is I am stressed and worried most of the time!). I was trying to decide whether or not to postpone Preston's baptism(scheduled for the next morning) for another day, but didn't want to crush Preston's excitement! Maybe because I was crying, but my sweet little 8 year old told me it would be okay and that he wouldn't mind after all if we changed the date of his baptism. I told him I wanted my heart to be in it for him, and w/Mason so sick I would have just been 'quickly throwing together' something that should be a very special day. I am grateful for the tender mercies and understanding of my sweet children. And for Mark as well, for saying "it's up to you."

Soon after all that, I received a phone call about the x-ray. Both of Mason's lungs were junky w/fluid now, but no pneumonia at least. So w/that, the question it his heart failure getting worse causing the fluid, or could it be something viral? The viral tests would take up to 24 hours.....just great! 24 hours of wonder and worry! After that phone call, as I was holding my sick little Mason, we made the final decision to bump Preston's big day to a later date. Thank you to all involved, for understanding my "mommy meltdown"!

Then Saturday night my ped. called a couple of times (Dr. Whiting is amazing and is so kind to us! I even call him at home with concerns quite frequently.) He had been checking with Primary's lab all afternoon on the viral tests and at first everything came back negative so we worried about congestive heart failure!! But an hour later he called and Mason was positive for the 'Rhino-virus'. What's that? The ordinary everyday cold. Yay, at least this wasn't a heart issue, but it shows what a 'little cold' can do to a heart baby. His little body is too compromised right now to fight anything off very well. We just needed the cold to quickly run its course before his ECHO.

On to the ECHO.....
Mason and I showed up at Primary's at 7:30 am. on Thursday morning to check in for his sedated echo. Now remember for sedation his tummy needs to be empty, so by this this time Mason was very hungry. He had not eaten since 3:30 am (that's already a long time for him) so he was getting mad! Then we didn't see anyone from sedation until 8:30 when they placed an IV for his sedating meds. Mason was so upset from the IV poke along with him being hungry all his crying made him begin to cough really bad. (His cough was actually quite a bit better until then.) So this made the sedation nurse unsure about sedating him because the sedation can already drop their sats sometimes, then with his cough and already being on 1 1/2 liters of o2 their was talk about him not having enough reserves to pull his sats back up on his own. Which could lead to 'bagging' him to help him breathe and a stay in the PICU! Yikes! No thanks! But we really needed an echo to see if there had been any improvement in his heart function........

After talking w/ Dr. Saarel, our cardiologist, it was decided to try and get an echo without sedating. Dang! An IV placed for no reason. For those of you who don't know, they sedate kiddos because to get a decent ECHO they need to hold really still and not cry. I was thinking to myself, "are you kidding me? My child who cries at the site of scrubs, hold still for a half hour echo?" Then I had a thought....If they weren't going to sedate him then couldn't I feed him? Fill his tummy, calm him down, and maybe even he'd fall asleep. That was high hopes! But I asked if we could try it anyways. The nurse and the radiologist doing the echo were game. So they left the room, I nursed him (while saying a little prayer to myself...please help Mason to fall asleep so that we can get his echo today) and he fell asleep! They came back in after 10 minutes to check on us and we decided I could hold him just like he was for the echo in hopes that he wouldn't wake up. And it worked! He slept the whole time and woke up right when the radiologist was done. Yay! Good work Mason!

We met w/ Dr. Saarel about an hour later for the results. I am trying to approach this with a 'half full' attitude rather than 'half empty'. Maybe this is just my way of coping or am in a bit of denial. His heart function and leaking valve are not any worse, Yay! But, there was not any improvement either. Basically, there was no change after a month on the new meds. Although, this doesn't mean meeting w/ the transplant team quite yet like I had understood at out last appointment. Thank goodness! I was not ready for that yet.

She upped 1 of his meds (enalipril) and we will up it again in 2 weeks which will max out his dose. Then we will go back in a month for another echo. Then hopefully he will have improved heart function! If no improvement still? Then try 1 last med, but this one is a last result because in some kids it can drop their heart rate too low. So this will entail lots of appointments to monitor side effects. And sometimes they have you meet w/the transplant team while starting this med. I think that this is based on our cardiologist's opinion on how he is doing. let's just think, hope, and pray positively that the higher dose of meds will do the trick and we won't have to walk down that other path!

The other concern right now is about Mason's weight gain. He is a good eater....he still nurses a lot and eats all kinds of solids but, his little heart must be working so hard that he is burning everything up. He has not gained in a month and 1/2, but even before that his gain has been very slow. Which ever route we go, whether it's toward the 3rd surgery (the fontan) or transplant he needs to get bigger and stronger. What are our options? Pump up his food w/ lots of calories (well, I am already doing this w/ peanut butter, almond butter, olive oil, eggs, protein powder, ice cream ), give additional feedings by NG (the feeding tube through the nose ) at night and expect him not to pull it out(but he doesn't sleep in one spot all night ! I am all over the house trying to get him to sleep and I know he will not leave it in. In fact I tried a couple weeks ago as suggested by our ped), or have a G Tube put in (a little "button" on his tummy put in during an out patient surgery) so that he can receive extra feeds and not have to do any work to get the calories. What to do? What to do?

Mason fortunately hasn't needed an NG tube since he was 3 months old. That has been a huge blessing and amazing for such a little heart baby! But now to expect him to leave one in at night may just be too much to ask of him. Or, do I really want him to go through another surgery (at least its minor compared to heart surgery) and have a G tube placed? I know a lot of heart babies and kiddos that have them, but didn't expect Mason to need one because he has always eaten so well. It is a decision we will need to face here pretty soon. Especially as Dr. Saarel's words keep ringing through my ears "I am worried about Mason" (about his heart and his weight) I know it is something we can't ignore. Dr Whiting is also concerned so I will be discussing it with him in greater detail as well.

As always, your concern and prayers are greatly appreciated! And thank you also to the anonymous taco soup dinner that arrived at our door last week (It was going to be a cereal night, so thank you thank you) as well as other meals brought in and favors done as to ease my load when life seems so crazy and complex.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Pictures from April

**Mason loves to go outside so we decided to take him to the
park to watch Braiden's soccer game!
We just found a quiet little spot away from the crowd.
This made Braiden happy too!!

**Mason still only wants to scoot around on his bum, so we've
been trying to set him on his knees to play a little each day.

**If the front or back door gets left open Mason immediately
scoots over to it to see what's going on outside.
He loves the sunshine!

This was our "weekend get-away" for the pneumonia.
Primary's needs to get some more 'boyish' pj's.
Lots of people said "oh, she is darling". I guess
I can see why! All those curls and the pastel pj's!

This was Easter Sunday.
(He did not need the O2 like he does now
so we gave him a break for the pictures and
he wouldn't leave it on anyways )

Mason got caught sneaking some chocolate!!

** Two of my handsome boys...Braiden and Mason.

**One Easter princess and four cute crazy boys.

**Ammon and big brother Preston celebrating Preston's
8th birthday on April 5! Can't believe my Preston is 8!