To catch up on Ellie

Ellie is 7 months old!  She is such a happy girl.  Whenever we go out, she smiles at everyone so she gets lots of attention.  She is beginning to sit up for a few minutes at a time.  She has been wanting to sit up for months now (it looked like she was doing crunches) so I’m sure she’s glad to finally see the world from an upright position.

We went back to the doctor recently to get a check up on her ears.  There was still a little residual fluid from the last ear infection, but otherwise, looked good.  She weighed 16 lbs 4 oz.

Today, we went to the pediatric cardiologist to check up on her congenital heart defect.  She still has the ASD.  It’s very small (5 mm), but it should have closed up by now.  At this point, the only thing we’ll do is continue to get a check up by the cardiologist so he can monitor it.  Other than that, there’s no reason to treat her any differently.  If, by some reason, she is in the hospital one day and needs an IV, we would need to caution the staff that she does have a heart defect.  There’s a very rare chance that oxygen could enter the IV, and because the two chambers of her heart are connected, could make its way to the brain.  I can’t remember the name of that condition, but it’s bad.  At any rate, she’ll most likely have day surgery (by cardiac catheterization, not open-heart surgery) when she’s about 5 years old to close the hole.  The doctor said the device used to close the hole is made perfectly for her case.  Apparently, the hole in her heart is in the center of the wall separating the two chambers, so there is plenty of room on all sides to insert this device.

If you didn’t want to know all the details, I’m sorry.  I’m recording all this information because it’s fresh.  I know that in two years time when we go back for a check up, I will have forgotten all these details.  Like most blogs, I use this place as a record!

Ellie’s Cardiologist Appointment

Ellie had her appointment with the pediatric cardiologist this morning.

She had an EKG first with about a dozen sticky monitors. She wasn’t fond of them being pulled off. Then she was weighed and came in at 8 lbs 6 ozs. That’s my growing girl!

When the doctor came in, he listened with his stethoscope and said everything sounded normal. Then we put her up on a table for the sonogram. He looked all over her heart, examining each of the 4 chambers and watching each valve. She has an atrial septal defect. It’s an opening in between the two sides of the upper chambers. All children are born with it, but it usually goes away within a few weeks after birth. (This explains why NICU didn’t note it.) Her’s is still abnormally large.

Over time, the right side of the heart would have to work harder, and the blood vessels in the lungs could be damaged. However, it would take many years for something like that to happen. In our case, we will go back when she’s six months old for him to reexamine. If it still hasn’t healed, when she’s about school age, she would have surgery. They wouldn’t have to do open heart surgery. They could go in through a cathetar and place a meshy wire thing. He described it as a top hat with two brims: one at the top and one at the bottom. For the sewers out there, I thought of it as a bobbin. It would plug the opening, and the skin of the heart would eventually grow around it.

So, hopefully she’ll continue to grow and it will heal itself. Otherwise, she’ll have a minor surgery. Either way, the doctor did not really seem concerned. Heart murmurs are fairly common (some literature they gave us said as many as 1 in 5 adults had a murmur, or has one and may not even know it), so I know she’ll be fine. I feel great to be in Birmingham where we are surrounded by great specialty doctors.

In other news, Ellie started smiling last week! Brian still hasn’t seen a smile since she still sleeps a good bit, but I know he’ll see one soon! It’s very sweet!

Weight, Sun, Chickens, and Murmurs

I took Ellie to the doctor yesterday for a weight check.  She weighs a whopping 7 lbs 3 oz!  The doctor poked his head in the exam room to tell us that he was thrilled and very pleased.  He was super excited that she turned herself around.  She’s now in about the 5th percentile for weight.

While I had him, I wanted to ask a few questions.  We were out in the sun over the holiday weekend, so I asked about sunscreen.  I think she got a little sun on her face – the only exposed part of her body.  He said no sunscreen until 6 months of age.  I guess that means our beach trip soon will be spent in the house.

My next question was a bit more complicated.  We spent the holiday weekend with my parents.  The pool was a little cool (ask Brian who bravely got in with Sam both days) but we had a great weekend.  My mom, however, went to the doctor on Tuesday and discovered that she had developed shingles.  At one point, there were 7 children under the age of 5 hanging around.  That’s a lot of exposure to the chicken pox virus.  The doctor was very concerned and asked me in great detail about Mom’s condition and Ellie’s exposure.  He determined that he would need to talk with his Infectious Disease team to determine the course of action.  Most likely, she would receive a special vaccine administered at the hospital.  Children these days get a vaccine for chicken pox in 2 doses: 1 at 12 months and 1 at 4 years.  Giving the vaccine at a very young age is dangerous, but not as dangerous as getting the virus.  However, he called me back at the end of the day (wow-I don’t think I’ve EVER received a direct call back from the actual doctor!  Kudos to Dr. Dudgeon!) and said that because I had chicken pox as a kid and now I’m breastfeeding, that Ellie has my immunity to it.  Yay!  Brian takes full credit for the endless encouragement for me to continue nursing.  I didn’t think I would make it, but judging by her weight, I think we’re over the worst.  Back to the chicken pox.  I asked about Samantha too.  Since she has received the first vaccine, she has an 80% immunity to the virus.  If she is in the unlikely 20% who will receive it, she would have a mild case.  So, no worries.  We should be good.

The doctor went ahead and started giving her an exam.  He listened to her heart for a very long time.  I suspected that he heard something he didn’t like.  He said he heard a heart murmur.   I’m not sure why he heard it now, and it was not detected at birth or in NICU.  He said it might be nothing, but he still wants us to go to a cardiologist and have it checked out.   I should receive a call back from his nurse with an appointment with a pediatric cardiologist.

So, what started out as a simple weight check without seeing the doctor turned into a full appointment.  He spent a long time with me so I appreciate that he worked me in.