We are a devoted Christian Family. Kristin is a daughter, sister, and mother. Daniel is a son - the youngest of 4 children, an avid wearer of shoes, and a very proud Papa. What follows below is but a mere glimpse into the life that we are happily creating together as the parents of two very special little people. This is our story.
On February 25th, 2018 our little girl made an unexpected early entrance to this world.
To truly understand her story you have to understand a bit about Kristin's (mama bear's) story as well.
Kristin has Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Hashimotos, and Epilepsy to name the most well known conditions she deals with. At age 17 she was told that bearing children would be dangerous, if not impossible.
Her first child, Garrett (Big Bro / Brother Bear) was an unexpected miracle 6 years ago. His pregnancy and birth were very difficult with many complications. He has had several issues since birth with medical conditions that were just diagnosed within the past year. (Difficult but praise God for answers) In addition to years of Ear, Nose, and Throat issues that are finally being addressed, he has been diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE), Asperger's, Sensory Processing Disorder, and Anxiety Disorders. Ever since we found out that our baby was going to be a girl, he has insisted that her name is Cupcake, or as he likes to say "Pup-Cake."
Kristin never expected a second child. A couple years ago after an MS relapse, blood clots in both lungs, several hospitalizations, being wheelchair bound for months, along with major gynecological issues Kristin was told to schedule a hysterectomy for health reasons. All other complications and risks aside, blood clot risk alone made pregnancy a very dangerous thing due to hormones increasing risk for repeat clots.
After ending blood thinners for the clots in summer of 2017 a surgery consult was scheduled. Kristin needed emergency surgery for a bowel obstruction and intestinal blockage prior to having a date set for the hysterectomy. After remaining sick for a few weeks post-op we learned that we were pregnant. We were terrified. But given that this child wasn't supposed to be possible we were also excited.
After meeting with maternal/fetal medicine - high risk doctors we began our path to try to maintain a healthy pregnancy. Other than severe anemia and being prescribed blood thinners, mom and baby both seemed to stay healthy and it was a very positive experience. We were followed very closely with multiple growth scans and seemingly never-ending blood-work. We were scheduled for delivery in mid-March 2018. There were 2 major reasons for the planned induction - first being that her blood thinners needed to be stopped at least 24 hours before delivery to avoid complications; Second being that Kristin had surgery as a teen on her brain stem and C-Spine for a hereditary condition (Chiari Malformation, a Craniotomy, Laminectomy, and Duraplasty) Laboring and pushing without assistance or possible intervention could build pressure of cerebro-spinal fluid in her skull causing major issues.
When we awoke on Sunday, February 25th. Kristin was experiencing severe pain in her lower back. Not wanting to ignore any potential issues she called the hospital and we were instructed to make our way to Mission Labor and Delivery in Asheville, NC. We arrived at the hospital around 10:45 AM. After meeting with the nurses we were admitted to the hospital. By 11:00 we were in a room, anesthesia came in to discuss an epidural but there was no time. At 11:24 Kristin's water broke, a mere 3 minutes later at 11:27 AM our beautiful baby girl, Hadley Elena Noelle Houck, entered the world weighing 6 pounds, and measuring 19 and 1/4 inches long.
The first 6 hours of her life were amazing. She seemed feisty, sassy and alert. After a feeding the evening of the 25th. Hadley went to sleep and started making some strange noises - grunting in her sleep and shivering. Her blood-sugar had dropped very low and her breathing was very labored/irregular. She was moved to NICU for observation and treatment. During our stay in the NICU we learned that because Kristin and Daniel (Papa Bear) had different blood types it had caused some mild complications. She was at a higher risk for jaundice but thankfully that was never an issue. She was however very anemic, and was having issues regulating her oxygen saturation and heart rate; but no one understood why. Her blood sugar levels stabilized within 24 hours and an iron supplement was ordered. We learned the tremors were unfortunately withdrawals from a medication Kristin had to be on, but they have since resolved. Her oxygen and heart rate continued to be an issue, she became more lethargic and started losing weight. The first day and a half in the NICU was a roller coaster of emotions and unknowns. Late in the evening on the 27th we finally had answers: ASD - Atrial Septal Defect; and PDA - Patent Ductus Arteriosus.
PDA is a small hole in the aorta - the main artery of the body - that normally closes within a few hours of birth. Being that Hadley is a preemie, her bodily systems had not completely developed when she was born. This should close on it's own, in due time. More information on PDA can be found here (http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/CongenitalHeartDefects/AboutCongenitalHeartDefects/Patent-Ductus-Arteriosus-PDA_UCM_307032_Article.jsp#.Wqb9LminFD8
ASD is another type of heart defect. The heart can be divided into four basic areas; left and right, the upper portion - atria, and the lower portion - ventricles. ASD is a large hole in the wall (septum) of the right and left atria. This allows oxygenated blood entering the left atrium from the lungs, to flow into the right atrium, where it is then moved to the right ventricle, back to the lungs, and from the lungs once again back to the left ventricle. This in turn causes a decrease in the amount of oxygen rich blood that is available to circulate to the rest of the bodies systems. This may potentially resolve on it's own as well, but there is also a possibility that she may need surgical intervention when she is much stronger and more stable. More information on ASD can be found here (http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/CongenitalHeartDefects/AboutCongenitalHeartDefects/Atrial-Septal-Defect-ASD_UCM_307021_Article.jsp#.WqcCqWinFD8
ASD and PDA are both Congenital Heart Defects. CHD's are the most common form of birth defects, even though it only occurs in about 1% of all births. Most causes of CHD's are still unkown, but only 15 - 25% are caused by known genetic conditions. Nearly 40,000 infants are born with CHD's each year, making CHD babies truly 1 in 100. We happen to have close contact with 2 other CHD families, without whom we would not be able to survive this insane roller coaster ride. Our Christian faith has also proven to be a tremendous help when dealing with the stress that comes with not only having 2 special needs children in our home, but also dealing with our own medical issues, and everything else that life keeps throwing at us. Without God, there is absolutely no way we could survive. We hope that in addition to keeping our family and friends informed of Cupcake's progress on this journey this will also serve as our testimony and hopefully provide some semblance of peace and comfort to another family who may be dealing with anything similar to what we are living with.