Thursday, September 13, 2007

Stronger Than Ever

To tell you the truth, the reason we have not posted sooner is that we have been busy, but I also didn't know where to begin to explain all that happened while we were at Cardinal Glennon. I know you all must be so curious as to how everything went. Instead of "screening" the photos we posted, I figured I would just put them all up there (well, not all of them as you can see there are a lot, and I have many more). Some are a bit scary, but it is the real thing. So, here is a photo journey of our stay at Cardinal Glennon. Thank you for all of your prayers for us. Charlotte's strength is proof that they were answered.
Getting scrubbed up the morning before surgery. The nurse is washing her chest. We arrived at the hospital at 5:00AM. Charlotte was very tired, just as we were, although she somehow found the energy to stay awake and make us laugh some too.
Daddy, lovin' on his beautiful girl.
Mittens? Yes, these are warming packs they put on her hands to get the blood work they needed. She didn't like them too much. That, and she was STARVING!
One final snuggle before going to the OR. I held her tight and told her to be strong (many times). I told her that she will be in God's hands until I can hold her again myself.
Before sending Charlotte to the OR, our pastor, my Mom, Chris' parents, my sister and the two of us said a prayer for Charlotte. Chris and I spent a few moments with her before sending her through the OR doors. I had been dreading that moment, but somehow, when it came, we found the strength together to trust God and believe He would protect her.
The next few hours seemed like an eternity. We sent her to the OR at 07:30 and didn't see her until 3:30pm. The nurses and doctors took about 2 hours just putting all of the necessary lines, tubes, etc. in Charlotte before the actual procedure took place.

This is how she looked the first time we saw her. We all thought she looked surprisingly better than imagined, however, the number of wires that were hooked up to her blew me away. She has an NG tube, the ventilator, her heartrate monitors, two ventricular pacing wires that connect directly to her heart, her drain, an IV in each hand, and arterial line and a venous line in both sides of her groin, an O2 sat monitor, and a blood pressure cuff. The lines coming from her groin had about 5 other lines coming off of them, all medications.

Charlotte remained on the ventilator the first evening. They were going to try to wean her off, but she was having problems with elevated blood pressure, so they decided to wait until morning. Chris and I said goodnight, and headed to the waiting room to try to get a good night's sleep. We took the cushions off of the chairs and couches in one of the waiting rooms, and placed them on the floor in a T. There we slept until about 5:30AM. Believe it or not, it was the best sleep I had gotten in about 2 weeks...I could finally relax and know that it was over. Although we had much left to accomplish (recovery), this part was done.

At 5:30, after putting our "bed" away, we went in to see our little girl. They had taken the ventilator out and she was breathing on her own, such a relief. They took the ventilator out at 3:30AM. Here, she just has the oxygen in her nose instead of the ventilator, and also the NG tube to empty the acid out of her tummy.
That morning Charlotte also found enough energy to open her eyes for about 10 minutes. She babbled some and tried to play with her toes. She brought me to tears, knowing she was ok and knew who we were too.
This giraffe is the same one that sat with me in the hospital for 3 months and with her in her isolette in the NICU for 4 weeks. It was only appropriate that he join her in the hospital again.
Playing with her toes...the even glow now, amazing!
Me feeding Charlotte for the first time. She could only have pedialyte, but she wanted it. They only let us give her 2 ounces, and she downed it in about 5 minutes. It was great to know she was thirsty and wanting her bottle. Look at all the wires! Every one of those pumps to my left were being used.
Ahhh...holding my precious girl for the first time on Saturday. I was trying to be so careful so I wouldn't hurt her. It felt amazing holding her close again.

Letting us know she didn't forget latest trick, holding her bottle. They didn't let her have formula until Sunday.
This is the new room after being transferred out of the ICU on Monday. She kept trying to sit up in bed, so I helped her. She was ready to Play!
OUCH! This is right after they took her bandage off and the first look we got at her incision. It is a bit bigger than we thought, but will hopefully fade with time. They also pulled out the ventricular pacing wires and one of the lines from her groin and her drain. That is what the other bandage is covering.
Finally, able to dress Charlotte was great. She looked better already.
As if she didn't have enough wires, Charlotte had been having a lower heartrate than normal, especially during sleep. An EKG showed a junctional rhythm, which should reslove on its own. But, we had to have documentation of it, and they made her wear a halter monitor for about 24 hours. This is just like a continuous EKG. So, more wires. I was inclined to call her Pinocchio.
Mocking Daddy, Charlotte learned how to open her mouth as large as possible. So hilarious! This was Monday night. She was making us laugh so hard, and feeling good.
Daddy is the best!
A family photo op. Ok, well it isn't the greatest picture, but at least all of our faces are in it.
We had to get creative when helping her sit up so she wouldn't hurt herself. Especially since she has a tendancy to fall over sometimes.
One of the balloons she recieved while in the hospital. Grandma Val gave her this one. She loved making the turtle "dance".
Her new pal, named "Patches". Aunt Kristy picked it out just for her from the gift shop. He rattles, crinkles and squeaks! This was taken on Tuesday, as we were off on a wagon ride killing time before they told us we could go home.
And finally, the anticipated walk to the car to go home. After they last few sleepless nights (I can't go into detail how hard it was with monitors and nurses and security guards...interrupting our sleep on here, just as me sometime) we were finally homeward bound. Thankful we were leaving a day early and that our baby had pulled through with flying colors.
So, you all know me very well. In an effort to spare you a VERY long entry, I gave you the short version. There is much more that I would like to tell you about our stay, but it would take me forever to type, and you forever to read. So, I'll have to fill you in on stories in person sometime.
Again, thank you all for your prayers. This experience was at times better than I thought it would be, and at times just what I imagined. But, with the strength of the Lord, we are on the road to recovery. Hopefully it will continue to go smoothly as well. Currently, our biggest issue is she still isn't eating well :( Go figure? Not Charlotte! I hope she works on her appetite a little. She has rolled to her tummy on her own already, and I also caught her trying to get in her hands and knees today. I am glad she didn't forget that she is somewhat mobile. Not lifting her underneath her arms is a challenge, but we are getting better at it. And, she is only on tylenol during the day, and a dose of tylenol with codeine at nigth. What an amazing STRONG girl.
The Hawn Family


Anonymous said...

Hooray for Charlotte!!!!!!!!!! Hooray for the Hawn Family!!!!!!!
You ARE Stronger Than Ever!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm so happy to hear that all went as well as possible. I've been thinking about you guys a lot lately and don't know how it is that you're getting through all of this. I hope you know that you are in my thoughts and prayers all the time and I'm praying for a speedy recovery for Charlotte.

dickinsonfamily said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for posting this story and all the pictures! I had to stop and dry my eyes a few times. It is truly amazing how God brings her through each and every time.

I will continue to pray that her appetite picks up. I'm sure it will more each day as she feels better.

I think her incision looks really good, and she is as beautiful as ever...even with all the wires! I'm so glad you took all these pictures, it'll be great for her to see them when she's older.

--Sarah D.

Anonymous said...

Jenn, I am so thrilled that this milestone you've been dreading is behind you now. How wonderful that Charlotte did so well! I have been praying for you and am so glad to get the update! Love, Anne

The Frost Family said...

We are so happy to know that Charlotte made it through her big surgery ok! It must have been so scary to see her after the surgery, but probably also comforting to know that she was doing well after not seeing her for so long while she was in the OR. We will continue to send lots of prayers her way for a speedy recovery.

Ty, Emmy, and Aidan