eight months and eighteen days

eight months and eighteen days ago, Parker Jane entered our lives at 9:15am.

11am, Erin, myself and Parker Jane (at that time baby girl Corbal) were situated in our hospital room.

1pm and it seemed as if every doctor on staff had been in to have a look at Parker Jane (now named) – poking and prodding, hearing tests, blood samples, a blur of white coats and stethoscopes. each doctor, upon listening to Parker Jane’s heart, made note of a low “whooshing” sound. and in turn, each doctor made note that the sound was most likely a result of the small hole in the heart that every baby is born with, that closes within the first few months of life; for most babies.

by 3pm, more doctors had been by to see Parker Jane and the mention of a heart defect entered the realm of possibility in relation to the “whoosh”. an echocardiogram (high tech moving x-ray) was ordered for Parker Jane soon after.

4pm the echocardiogram video was viewed and shortly thereafter Dr. Morris Salem, head of the Pediatric Cardiology Department entered our room to inform us that our hours-old daughter had a congenital heart defect and would require surgery before the pass of her first birthday.

Parker Jane was diagnosed with Cardio-Pulmonary Stenosis. base explanation of said condition being: blood flow in and out of one of Parker Jane’s Pulmonary Valves was too slow, causing the other valve to work twice as hard. the leaflets controlling the blood flow through the valve were too thick, and therefore too slow to regulate blood flow properly.

the news of Parker Jane’s condition came as a dull shock to Erin and i who were still attempting to clear headspace as new parents. once explained in detail, given pamphlets on the heart condition and visited a second time by Dr. Salem, it was made clear that the condition was not deadly or requiring immediate treatment. Parker Jane would need to meet weight and overall growth requirements during monthly checks with Dr. Salem. based on Parker Jane’s progress, an Angioplasty-like heart surgery would be scheduled and performed anytime after the turn of six months.

with detail still too fresh to recount, life at home with Parker Jane began with a heightened urgency to gain and maintain weight. each check-up with Dr. Salem was coupled with a sense of anticipation: was Parker Jane meeting the benchmarks?

by the second month, Parker Jane had met her benchmarks so far and was slowly developing a personality. at the same time, Erin and i were beginning to feel a bit more confident in our parenting decisions. we returned the infant scale we rented. we stopped counting the exact number of ounces of breast milk Parker Jane drank per day. we stopped obsessing and began enjoying. Parker Jane was no longer a stranger, she became one of us, and we embraced that fact.

months went by and Parker Jane continued to grow and impress Dr. Salem with her progress. the surgery was rarely discussed at our visits even; the emphasis was placed on on how well Parker Jane was doing so far, and how it appeared as if she would continue to do so. looking back now, i see how this became a very important time for Erin and i in our coping with the impending surgery. pressure was removed from the equation and we found ourselves able to view the circumstance in a new and more optimistic light.

it was at Parker Jane’s six month visit that Erin and i informed Dr. Salem that we would like to schedule the surgery. while instantly making it more of a reality, scheduling the surgery actually relaxed Erin and i a bit more; there was an end in sight to our worry. at the conclusion of the check-up, Dr. Salem noted that Parker Jane was in great shape to go ahead with the surgery. and so it was scheduled: November 8.

time went by very quickly at this point. Parker Jane began developing much more rapidly. her spirit and spunk and overall awesomeness began to burst through. what a time. what a feeling. what a sense of pride and astonishment and thankfulness. what an awareness of life and love. we were hooked. we were believers.

this feeling, these feelings, they brought a new warmth to the household. Erin and i began working on our bond, discussing and slowly planning the life we wanted for us and our daughter. we saw progress and success and value and happiness in a new light, having stripped away unnecessary roadblocks and concerns and societal structures. we were good, very good, but very nervous.

November 8

12:30am: Parker Jane eats for the last time before her surgery.

8:30am: check-in at the hospital. we wait to be called. an hour passes. in classic Parker Jane form, not a peep came from her mouth as she waited, hungry, unaware of where she was and what was about to happen. Erin and i were so proud of her patience, we still are.

9:30am: we are escorted into a large hospital room where patients are prepped for surgery. we are given a mini hospital gown for Parker Jane. The Anesthesiologist explains the anesthetic process and risks involved.

10:45: Parker Jane is fully checked in and prepped for surgery. Erin, carrying Parker Jane, and i, are escorted across the hall into a large and cold operating room. Parker Jane is laid on her back on a table and she looks to us. Dr. Salem enters the room and says hello. the Anesthesiologist asks Erin and i if we are ready. we look at Parker Jane. she seems confused but still does not fuss. we say yes. a small mask is placed over Parker Jane’s nose. she fights it. Erin and i retreat to our happiest memories while our daughter is put to sleep. less than ten seconds later, Parker Jane is completely knocked out. we are escorted out of the room and told that we would be visited some time between 12:30 and 1pm. this becomes, by far, the hardest part of the entire day.

Erin and i slowly and quietly make our way back to the waiting room we began in. Erin sets to work on billing and invoices and busy duties her head can escape in to. i retreat to the iPod.

11:50am: i venture to the cafeteria for tuna salad sandwiches. Erin and i eat in the hallway and discuss possible holiday plans. we look ahead, we talk of the future; there is a quiet confidence in our voices.

12:30pm: Dr. Salem peeks into the waiting room from outside the door and motions to meet him outside. his face is calm and relieving. he holds a piece of paper in his left hand. Dr. Salem proceeds to explain that the surgery was as successful as planned. and then he shows us the piece of paper: two pictures. the first picture shows Parker Jane’s Pulmonary Valve before surgery. the second picture, after. a difference of 9mm in the valve opening separates the two pictures. unbelievable. truly, truly unbelievable.

it is another half hour before we can see Parker Jane. when we enter the hospital room she is crying; confused, groggy, very hungry. we kiss her and assured her. Erin rocks her in a chair. Parker Jane falls asleep. an hour later i take over. Parker Jane wakes. we play. she attempts to remove her ankle I.V.. still, she is not allowed food. and still, as had been the case earlier, not a peep, no fuss. finally, we are given the clearance to feed Parker Jane and oh how she eats. and then we play some more.

Dr. Salem arrives to check Parker Jane at 3:30pm. she checks out great and we are given the clearance to leave the hospital sometime around 6pm.

at 4:30pm Dr. Salem stops in to say goodbye for the day. a second check of Parker Jane brings him to say that we can leave at 5pm. we thank Dr. Salem, slowly gathered up our belongings and change Parker Jane from gown to clothes.

at 4:50pm we leave the hospital.

we arrive home exhausted from the day, all three of us. we play a bit, Parker Jane eats dinner and soon after goes down for the night. not long after, Erin and i retire to bed. we recount the day, and the miraculous nature of it, and our thanks. our daughter is safe.

Grandpa and Grandma Wright, Grammy Corbal, Great Grandma Zoccoli and Grandpa Tony came from north and south to visit. we all spent the weekend together, reveling in the wonder that is Parker Jane. we shared our thanks, discussed the baffling reality of out-patient heart surgery and found comfort in family. not missing a beat, Parker Jane wowed us with her strength and good nature. she appeared to almost have more energy than before. maybe our imagination, but maybe not.

it is now four days since the surgery. retrospect displays the life altering importance of the event for Erin and i, having been shown just how high we were lifted by the addition of Parker Jane, through just how low we would surely fall if she were to leave us. Erin and i have settled into a warm and peaceful head-space which has engulfed us. we have our daughter, we have each other, and therefore we have it all.

november 7 2007


november 9 2007

*our most sincere thanks to everyone for their support, positive thoughts and well wishes during this time. Corbalfamily is strong, very strong now, and you are a crucial part of this strength. and so, on-ward we go with the adventure.

About this post

Written by Rick on November 12, 2007.

Categories: Erin, Family, Friends, General, Parker Jane, Rick.

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