Thursday, December 10, 2009

Telling the Family

I'm a tell it how it is kind of girl, sometimes saying things without thinking how they may sound to ther other person; but in this particular case when telling family about Olivia's condition I think that was a Godsend. I had a grasp on what was wrong with her heart that made her different from other babies, what the general plan of attack was for treatment starting with a few hours after delivery; and a rough outline of what the survival rates were for her condition along each step of the way.

That's right, I said survival rates. Percentages and statistics have become a big part of all the jargon I've picked up along the way in the last few weeks. While congenital heart defects are the most common abnormality for any baby born in the US, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome is the rarest of all treatable conditions. Approximately 10% of all cases of HLHS stem from a chromosomal or genetic defect, the rest are all flukes. Which bucket did we fall into.? At this point we didn't know hence the order for the amniocentesis. If in the event Olivia's HLHS was caused by an underlying genetic abnormality; then none of the surgeries would be an option and we would need to prepare to say goodbye before we even said hello.

I digress - back to telling family. I feel like telling the family was a lot like taking off a Band-Aid. You can be quick and get it over with a sting that lasts for a few seconds or you can make it as long and drawn out as painfully possible. I preferred the rip-it-off method. I would start out with how we came to the diagnosis of HLHS, what it meant for our baby and what the near future held. Of course answering any questions along the way and mostly finding myself comforting the other person and assuring them that things could be worse - which was completely and utterly true.

Now I will never be able to comprehend our parents reactions to our news...first we were telling them that their first grandchild - on both sides had this major heart issue that would require a serious of invasive open heart surgies, then we introduced them to Olivia Giuliana's picture of her sucking her thumb and let them all know that it was indeed a girl (quite a big deal on the Donnelly side); and most of all that we felt that there were no other issues but only time would tell. To their credit, no one had any serious meltdowns to our face. I had to smile when I was talking with my mom and gave her a half hug telling her that everything was going to be okay.

We went out to dinner with Brian's extended family that night and had a good time, but by 7 the day's events had caught up with us. We were exhausted and eager to get home. Once we got home, we were in bed within 5 minutes and passed out around 7:45. Brian had to be up early the next day to make up for missed time, so he left me at home to sleep in before I headed over to my parents to start Thanksgiving prep. Once he left, I cried for the 2nd time in two days which is a lot for me. I cried because I felt alone, I cried because I felt bad that Brian had to go to work and most of all I cried for our baby and what she was going to face. Again it really only lasted a few minutes and then I was over it once again.

I was looking forward to spending the day cooking with my dad, the overall Christmas kickoff and of course Black Friday with all the ladies in the family. By that point on Wednesday I had already well figured out that it would do Olivia no good for me to get all emotionally wrought with emotion, in fact it may harm her I had adopted the approach of "it is what it is".

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