Friday, February 11, 2011

Caleb's Story

I met Lauren the week of P-man's birth, actually my mother-in-law met her first and then exchanged numbers. I was told she was new to the area, had a 2-year-old daughter named Kailey, and she was pregnant. She talked with my mother-in-law discussing her current OBGYN situation, and wanted some advice on what OB office was good. I didn't get the chance to meet up with her before I gave birth, but got the opportunity a week later. I needed to get out of the house, so we decided to go on a walk and take W to the park. Lauren happened to be there that day, and it was nice finally being able to finally meet her. She was so sincere and sweet and her daughter was just precious. She was telling me she was about 10 weeks pregnant, due in September, and this was her fourth pregnancy. Lauren had two previous miscarriages, one around 6-7 weeks, and one around 13 weeks (Godspeed baby Noah). She was telling me how nervous she was regarding her pregnancy, especially the dreaded 12 week ultrasound (that's when she found out about Noah's passing). Her 12 week ultrasound came and went and everything looked perfect. However, Lauren still felt uneasy and had this feeling something wasn't right. Her motherly instinct was proven correct, because her 20 week ultrasound revealed there was a problem with her baby's heart. Here is her story...

Caleb's Story
By Lauren Doblar

We found out about Caleb's heart at 20 weeks. That day was full of anticipation and excitement; we couldn't wait to find out the gender! Our whole world fell apart after the ultrasound, as I heard the words, "There is something severely wrong with your baby's heart." I'll never forget walking out of the dr office that day, tears streaming down my face. My happy 2 and 1/2 year old daughter was walking alongside me, holding her soon to be brother's pictures.

Caleb's diagnosis kept changing. First they thought it might be Tetralogy of Fallot, then TGA, and finally HLHS. I started getting echo's done at 23 weeks, and that is still pretty early to be able to see everything. One thing was for sure: his heart was complex, and not a textbook case of HLHS. As my pregnancy progressed, we knew of 4 defects for sure. We were told we wouldn't know everything until after his birth.

On September 27th, 2010 at exactly 39 weeks gestation, I went in for my induction at 8 pm. My doctor was willing to try for a vaginal birth, as long as Caleb did ok with it. I was already dilated between 2 and 3 cm. He sure made a quick grand entrance into the world! :) Just over 3 hours later, Caleb Thomas was born at a whopping 9 pounds 3.6 ounces, 22 inches long. He was perfect, crying, and pink as ever.

We learned that Caleb had HLHS, multiple VSD's, (holes in the heart) Coarctation of the Aorta, ASF-PFO, Large Patent Ductus Arteriosus, an arrythmia, and second degree heart block.

He was transported to CICU, was very stable, and on room air! His modified Norwood procedure was planned for when he would be a week old. But at 2 days old, Caleb's blood pressure was lower than they wanted it to be. After rounds of Epinephrine and calcium, and no results, it was decided that surgery needed to take place the next day. Caleb would be 3 days old.

We got the chance to hold Caleb for the first time, right before surgery. We had no idea it would be the last.

His surgery was between 5 and 6 hours long, and he made it through awesome! The surgeon came in afterwards with a big smile on his face. They were able to do what they intended, and he came off the heart bypass machine great. The next 24-48 hours were critical, and they would keep a close eye on him. We thanked him, and called everyone. We had no idea that our lives would shatter in a matter of two hours.

When we went up to his floor, we weren't let in to the unit. A nurse? Not sure... came out and said, "Things aren't looking good for Caleb." Those words are forever burned into my memory. That's all they said. They DIDN'T say, that he had gone into cardiac arrest, that they were working on him at that moment, that there wasn't much hope. We were told we could go back and see him. I couldn't move. I didn't know what was happening to my son, and I didn't want that as my last memory of my baby. My husband went back. Not even two minutes later, he came back to me. His face said it all. Our Caleb was gone. Just like that.

They said that out of nowhere, Caleb's blood pressure dropped, and his heart stopped. They worked on him for 33 minutes, but could not bring him back. After hours of holding him, we left the hospital that night, with the greatest heartache I never knew existed.

We chose to have an autopsy done, to try and get some answers about his sudden passing. Post op bleeding is believed to be what contributed to his death.

The loss of Caleb has forever changed my life. I will always cherish the 3 days that we were blessed with him. Knowing the outcome, I would do it again, no question. He can never be replaced, and the chance to meet him meant the world. Caleb will always be a part of our family.

In Caleb's memory, I have created Caleb's Comfort Project. I will be putting together baskets and sending them to those that lose their child to HLHS. My hope is to reach out to other families, and to offer support and comfort during their time of loss.

We will always love you, Caleb Thomas.

Caleb has been flying amongst the angels in heaven for almost five months, and his story and his family will forever be apart of me. Lauren is an incredible person with a beautiful daughter and a supportive and loving husband. She has taught me so much during this past year of knowing her. She has proven her strength by being able to show her support and love for the heart community. Lauren has started a project in Caleb's name and as soon as I find out more information, I will most definitely pass that along.

As I stated on Monday, I will be donating to It's My Heart in memory of Caleb. I never got the chance to see him, but I do get to see him in prayer daily. I know he's looking down on the his family and will forever be with them. There is no pain more far-reaching and deeper than losing a child. My heart and prayers continue for Lauren and her beautiful family as well as the other heart warriors taken way too soon.

**If you would like to read more about Caleb and how Lauren is doing, feel free to visit her blog: Caleb's Heart Story**


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