Sunday, August 31, 2008

Baby's Home!

Not everything is perfect, but he's finally here. More about it tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Surgery Day

Today the baby had surgery to receive a stomach tube, which we'll use to feed him until he learns how to eat properly. Thankfully the surgery went very well, and the baby is currently sleeping off the anesthesia. I was glad to see that the actual tube is quite thin and small, and shouldn't be bothersome to the baby. He's on a breathing tube once again, so we can't hold him right now, but hopefully the tube will be removed later tonight or by tomorrow morning.
The baby will also need another echo to determine if the blood clot is going away/gone by now, so we're waiting on that as well. He'll remain on blood thinners until we know for certain.
We certainly wish that the baby can come home this week for Shabbos, and I guess we'll see how the week plays out.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Baby Update

Being able to hold the baby certainly makes this whole experience a lot easier to deal with, but we're not out of the woods yet. We had a small scare from the cardiac team this week, who found what may be a clot in a vein near the baby's heart from the surgery. They're treating him with blood thinners, monitoring his progress and hopefully he'll be fine. The baby will be on blood thinners for 1-2 weeks, and hopefully it'll be closer to a week.
He's also been seen daily by a feeding specialist, Dolores. With each session, he's taking more and more milk by bottle, which is great, but Dolores says that due to his little chin, it's difficult for him to take sufficient milk on his own, and the feeding tube is still necessary.
OMF surgeons (Oral Maxillofacial) confirmed this with their evaluation yesterday. They're convinced that the baby will need surgery to enlarge his jaw and have ordered a CT scan to obtain measurements. The surgery is not going to take place for another month, though, and the baby will B"H be able to come home for a bit in the meantime! Hopefully, the clot issue will be resolved soon, and we can bring him home for a few weeks (with the feeding tube).
So, at least we have a bit of a timetable now, which is comforting, though I hate the thought of putting our baby through more surgery, even though I know it's for the best. It's been really tough, but we try to take the situation day by day.

Thank you all very much for the your supportive messages, emails, and voicemails. It's difficult to return calls, but we do appreciate them all very much.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Holding The Baby

I think Baby is happier since they removed all the contraptions that covered his face. With only a feeding tube remaining, we can finally see what Baby really looks like. He's a real cutie.

Today we just spent the vast majority of the day holding him. He fell asleep, woke up, and ate in our arms. It's just nice to be able to hold our child after almost two weeks of tests and a major surgery. As one would expect, Baby really likes being held. He just looks at us, and we look at him. It's sad to leave him behind when we go home, and even sadder for me since I won't get a chance to see him until late tomorrow, but we're hopeful that he'll come home soon and then we'll hold him as much as we want.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More Baby News

Updated Again (Friday, August 15, 5:30 pm)


It looks like the respirator is coming out tomorrow morning. The nurses have been decreasing his morphine dose and today he was very active and awake (he likes it when we hold his hand). He was even making eye contact with us (or so we think).

After they take out the respirator, we'll finally be able to hold him. I'm really, really excited to hold him. It's sad that it's been a week already and he's never been held, but I'm sure Shifra and I will make it up to him. :-) We'll keep you guys informed.

Update (August 13, 10 pm): They took the respirator out tonight. We almost got a chance to hold him before going home, but he was all swaddled up and sleeping and no one wants to wake up a sleeping baby. So it looks like tomorrow is the big day. The doctor told us that he might be ready to go home by Sunday or Monday. We can't wait.

Update (August 15, 5:30 pm): We were allowed to hold the baby yesterday for the first time. He's still very hoarse because of the respirator, so his cries are really low. But he can still make himself heard.

His heart is doing very well, but he has to learn how to eat, and that's what will keep him in the hospital for the next few days. We're hoping he'll be home by next Shabbos, but it's still too early to be sure.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Baby Update

Updated Again


We don't have much to add to what I wrote Friday. The surgery is still scheduled for tomorrow morning, but we don't know what time. The baby is ready to go and is doing quite well.

We spent Shabbos at home, so we didn't get to see the baby for a long, almost 36 hour period. We had our cell phones on just in case the hospital needed to contact us in an emergency, but thankfully the call never came. The nurse informed us that the baby was very active over Shabbos and was actually awake when we came down to see him this morning. At this time, the staff is taking blood and suctioning his nose, and we decided to step out to give them some space.

We expect him to be hooked up to a number of machines tomorrow after his surgery, which is scary, but we realize the necessity of it. We'll update tomorrow once we hear the baby came out of surgery ok.

We appreciate all your offers to help, and every prayer makes a difference. Please daven for Tinok ben Shifra Yocheved tomorrow.

August 11, 11 am: The surgery is scheduled to start at around 1 pm. I'll post as soon as I have any news.

August 11, 8 pm: The surgery was completed without a hitch. Baby is back in the NICU and will start the road to recovery tonight. If everything goes well, he'll come off the respirator tomorrow night, and should be home before next Shabbos (August 23). He's not out of the woods yet, but we can see a break in the trees. Thank you for all your prayers.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Next Few Weeks

New Update (August 8, 3:30 pm)

New Update (August 7, 11 pm)

New Update Below (August 7, 12 am):

Updates Below:

A lot has happened since I last blogged. There has been work, New Jersey CLE, etc. But most importantly a once-far off event has now become imminent.

Tomorrow night at about 7 pm, I will be accompanying Shifra to Columbia Medical Center, where her labor will be induced, although her actual due date is on Tisha Ba'av (August 10th). Her doctors want to induce since our baby has a heart defect called Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA) and so would like specific individuals of their cardiac team to be present at the birth. Without getting into too much detail, our baby's heart is not working properly and the defect will require surgery to correct it. Although the surgery's success rate is over 90%, open heart surgery on a newborn infant always carries with it the attendant risks of any surgery. So despite our optimism, the next week will be a very trying time.

Our baby will likely spend the next two weeks or more in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Columbia is the top hospital in New York for pediatric cardiology, and everyone I have spoken to speaks highly of the care at the NICU, but of course it's hard to not be worried. Thankfully we had the opportunity to tour the NICU, so we're as emotionally prepared as possible. But it must be different when the baby is one's own baby, so frankly I have no idea what it will be like.

We would like to keep everyone posted on our own and our baby's progress, and updating on this blog seems like a good opportunity. We'll do our best to write updates as they occur, and keep everyone as informed as possible.

Thank you in advance for your thoughts and prayers at this time.

August 5, 10:56 PM: Shifra gave birth to a six pound, ten ounce baby boy at approximately 3:20 PM. The labor went as well as one could imagine, and the baby was born vaginally (C Sections are common for mothers with babies with TGA). The baby was whisked away from us before we could even get a good look, but we later found out that the baby was doing as well as expected given his condition. The doctors performed a balloon procedure to help circulate oxygenated blood throughout his bloodstream, which was successful.

We were able to see the baby a little later in the day, and the experience was tough. It's one thing to see newborn babies hooked up to all types of machines, but it is entirely different when it is one's own baby in the NICU. It was a little emotional, but we got through it. Right now, we're both extremely tired, but excited to see the baby tomorrow.

August 7, 12 AM: To start, I want to thank everyone for their well-wishes in the comments and elsewhere. Know that Shifra and I read and appreciate every comment. To white shirt/working guy, I owe you a phone call. Also, Shifra is doing very well. She's obviously sore, but she's walking around well, and will be discharged later today. I'm really proud of her for how she's handled everything.

Today was a much more calm day. The baby was moved from the transitional nursery into the NICU. The NICU is a fantastic place by all accounts and the nurses and doctors there seem really on top of things.

It was a lot easier emotionally to see the baby. He's still all wired up, but we're finding it easier to see the baby and not the wires. The NICU is less crowded than the transitional nursery and we are permitted to stay there as long as we like. 24/7 access to the baby, as they call it.

The baby is doing pretty well, and the surgery is scheduled for Friday. Those few hours while the surgery takes place are going to be very difficult, and I'm dreading the moment when the doctor comes out to tell us how everything went. While the success rate is very high and the surgeon is very good, a bad outcome will be devastating.

But to relay good news, the baby is fairly active for an infant on morphine. He moves around a lot, and reacts pretty strongly to discomfort (he was startled over and over by cold instruments). He opened his eyes when I spoke to him, so perhaps he recognizes my voice (they say newborn babies do that). Much of the family came by to see him and Shifra (and maybe even me too), which was nice. I'm going to work tomorrow, so I'll see him again tomorrow night. Please daven for Tinok ben Shifra Yocheved and Shifra Yocheved bas Chaim Shlomo.

August 7, 11 pm: We found out today that the baby is going to have surgery tomorrow at 730 am. Everything looks fine and his condition is stable enough for the surgery. The earlier they do the surgery, the better for the baby's recovery. We also found out that, G-d willing, he'll be ready to go home by the end of next week or the beginning of the subsequent week. That's less than two weeks in the hospital for open heart surgery! Plus, our surgeon has a 97.9% success rate, so we're really, really hopeful. Of course, it's really nerve wracking, but I'm optimistic and a lot of people are davening for him, so hopefully things should go well.

Btw, going to work was a really, really bad idea. I knew my boss lacked people skills, but I never knew he didn't have basic human emotions.

I work for a solo practitioner and am the only attorney or paralegal in the office, so I understand my boss relies on me and the workload tends to pile up. I completely get that. That's why I came into work today even though I have the vacation days in the bank and my wife really needed my help. It's also why after my boss had an incident and offered to let me and the rest of his staff go home for the day with pay, I offered to stick around and do work. I feel responsible for my work and realize he'll have to do whatever I can't finish.

But frankly if the job market was a little better, today would have been my last day. Here's how the conversation went today:

Me (walking into his office to see him for the first time since I had the baby): how's everything?
Boss: Wow you look like you need coffee.
Me: I'll be ok.
Boss: So what's the story?
Me: Story with what? My wife?
Boss: Ok this is what you have to do today.....

To be fair I did call him yesterday and he did say congratulations. Here comes the good part though:

Boss: You'll do this assignment today and tomorrow.
me: Actually the baby's surgery is tomorrow.
Boss: (loud sigh). So you want to take off right?
Me: Well, yea....
Boss: Don't surprise me like that.
Me: Surprise you? I just found about the surgery date last night.
Boss: How come you didn't tell me that Defendants' counsel in Case X filed an opposition to our motion?
Me: Uh, I didn't know about it since I haven't been here this week.
Boss: (annoyance that I didn't know about it, since I guess I was should have checking the ECF while my wife was pushing even though the ECF sends notifications to his email, not mine).

Whatever. I've told him at least three times about the surgery, including this week when I informed him that I couldn't be sure I'd come in this week after Monday. Honestly, I don't recall being this upset at someone in a long, long time. I've tried to look at this from all angles, but I can't see one that would justify this type of behavior. So I left work early, realizing that if I didn't have a chance to see my baby today and he, G-d forbid, didn't survive tomorrow, I would never forgive myself for missing this time with him to help someone whose reaction to being informed that my baby is having life threatening surgery was "why didn't you tell me about this earlier?"

Oh, and what did he tell me on the way out? "Ok you can go, but next week you really have to make an effort."

So seriously, if anyone knows of any openings for a soon-to-be admitted attorney and can get me in, I'd really appreciate it.

August 8, 3:30 pm: So it turns out the surgery didn't end up happening today. It's been rescheduled for Monday morning, either the first slot or the second. We'll post as soon as we find out. I'm not in the mood to get yelled at, so I haven't called my boss yet. I think he has a wedding tonight, so I'll call the office at around 7 to leave him a message.