There are moments in our lives that change us forever. Sometimes they are small, sometimes they are large. You may or may not know your world is changing, but however it happens we are changed.
Mama Kat (by way of Leslee) asked us to "Describe in 1000 words or less a time when something happened and you knew that life would never be the same."
My moment occurred by way of an introduction. I was laying in my hospital bed when a man walked in and introduced himself.
"Hello. My name is Dr. Ohlmstede, I am a pediatric cardiologist."
My first thoughts were along the lines of "oh, shit!"
I knew in that moment my world was changed forever.
I was alone at the hospital, the day after giving birth to our youngest son. My husband had gone out to get lunch, and I was enjoying a nap. The pediatrician on call had told me earlier in the day, that she heard a heart murmur on our son, but that it was probably the normal DA closing off and not to worry. Amazingly enough I didn't worry. Until I saw the "pediatric cardiologist."
"A pediatric cardiologist" are words no mother should ever have to hear.
I immediately knew something was really wrong with our son. I knew that this wasn't going to be good and I fought back tears and emotion so I could hear what he was saying. Amazingly, he was the gentlest doctor I'd ever met. He knew that he was delivering a crushing blow to me and he wanted to do it as gently as possible.
He sat down next to the bed and explained that after hearing the murmur, the pediatrician had ordered a echo-cardiogram to make sure it was nothing out of normal. The echo showed that my son indeed had a heart murmur, due to a heart defect called Ebstein's Anomaly.
At that point I started to crumble. I wanted my husband there to go through this moment with me, but I was all alone. I wanted to order the doctor out of our room, so that maybe I could wake up from this bad dream. Unfortunately, I can't make up words like Ebstein's Anomaly in my dreams, and I knew I had to concentrate on what the doctor was saying.
He went on to tell me that birth defects are really common, that they occur in 1 out of every 100 births, and that I didn't do anything wrong.
The waves of shock just kept coming. How could I not know about the possibility of a heart defect. I knew of down's syndrome, and spina bifida, but none of those occur even remotely as often as 1 out of 100. How come my ob never told me?
He kept talking, and I was trying to keep up. Thankfully he was patient with me.
He went on and explained that of all the heart defects, our son had one of the most rare. Ebstein's occurs 1 out of 30,000 and no one knows why.
I should really start playing the lottery.
He wanted to draw a picture of the heart and explain to me what was going on, but didn't have any paper. I gave him the back of my breastfeeding instructions. He explained that Ebstein's Anomaly occurs when the tricuspid valve doesn't close properly. This allows blood to leak back through the valve, and may cause the right atrium to be enlarged. In effect, not enough blood was getting oxygenized before going back into the body.
I wanted more details, I wanted a bigger picture. What did this mean? Would my son have to have heart surgery? Will he .......
Dr. Ohlmstede immediately started to calm the fears that came across my face. My son was not in immediate danger. We would have follow up appointments, and more tests run before anything was done. We would learn what to look for and how to take care of him. He also told me to be careful of what I read on the internet. That their pictures are usually worst case scenario and we didn't have the worst case.
He told me we would have an appointment to come into his office after we were discharged and he would do more tests and show us pictures of our son's heart.
I was grateful for this doctor and how calm he was.
He thanked me for letting him talk to me. He said he knew I would have more questions after I processed everything and that he would come back the next day and talk to my husband and I together. He would go through every question we had. And then he left.
And I crumbled. Life would never be the same.