Here is Esther's Story - from her exciting birth through her difficult first few months. The joys and the pains. Her story isn't finished and her adventures are note worthy, so read her story and check back for updates!
Esther, Carese, Daryl and I went down to Children's yesterday for her cardiology appointment. It's been 2 years since her last appointment! We left very early (in the car at 6:45) in order to drop some elastic off for a seamstress to pick up, accommodate feeding Carese on the way, and making one stop to get sun glasses for Daryl. Even with the careful planning and not having to feed Carese until we got to Children's, we just made it with enough time to change her into her nice clothes, comb her hair and put on her braces/shoes before her 10:00 check in time! I ended up nursing Carese (under my nursing cover of course) while getting our IDs and checking in!
Carese and Esther did amazingly well on the way down. Carese mostly slept, waking up just before our stop to get sun glasses, so we were able to change her diaper and get he dressed then (I had only changed her diaper before we left, in hopes that her outfit that I'd picked out for going to Children' would still be in great shape when we arrived). Esther played quietly in the car with her Jessie doll and looking at books.
Once at Children's Daryl got the job of chasing her around, and did he ever have to work to keep track of her. With all that sitting quietly time in the car, she was ready to run and investigate! The weird thing was that she seemed to know exactly where to go every time we moved. She even went straight for the "purple doors" that lead to the cardiology wing...but it's been 2 years since she was there!
Her first appointment was for her echocardiogram of her heart. This is basically a detailed ultrasound of the heart, checking for any possible leaks or problems. This take about 1/2 hour and she has to lay on a hospital bed during the entire procedure. She did marvelously! They do have a TV up high on the wall and allow the parents to select a video for their child to watch. We picked a cute looking computer graphic cartoon (cute characters, bright colors, but we soon found out that the morals and language was not the best), and it did help a lot to keep her distracted. Esther's Jessie doll (from Toy Story) was her constant companion, and she also watched the video as well as danced around to entertain Esther (Esther loves to make Jessie tap dance on any surface, as well as having her read books or reading books to Jessie...but her favorite thing is to make Jessie dance with and kiss other dolls, especially the man rag-doll that Rebekah made for her).
After the ultrasound, we headed over to the cardiology room for her EKG (a dozen wires attached all over her body) and she was quite concerned about this, but she made it through without too much trauma. Next was getting a blood pressure reading and then a Pulse-Ox reading too.
Next was waiting to be seen by the nurse. This took about 20 minutes, and required that we pull out my Iphone and let her watch The Incredibles for a while. The after another 20 - 30 minute wait (during which Carese went to sleep), we finally got to see our favorite Cardiologist, Dr Kemna. She had cared for Esther all the way back when Esther was home the first time and was going to Children's every two weeks, as well as being on rounds during one of the weeks that Esther was staying at Children's before she had her open heart surgery. Dr Kemna took one look as Carese and said "you are a brave woman" - too funny! We really like Dr Kemna, especially as she explained to us that Esther heart is completely repaired, unless someone knew that she had undergone a repair, the repair would not even be noticeable in any tests! She said that Esther didn't need to be seen again for 3 years! Hooray!
We then went to the cafeteria, as we were all getting very hungry, and had a snack or yogurt and chips. The last stop was to go up to the lab and get a blood draw for Esther's thyroid screen. Her pediatrician is now in charge of monitoring her thyroid instead of having to see a specialist (if anything shows up funny, then Esther will go see the endocrinologist again). This requires having her blood tested every 6 months (down from every 3 months now, yay!). Since we were at Children's, and they have the best phlobotomists in the world there, I had the lab request send down there and got it taken care of there! It went well, as usual for Children's lab draws. During the "poke" Esther was understandably upset, saying over and over "I'm OK, I'm OK" while tears were forming and running down her cheeks. At one point, she leaned her head back onto Daryl's shoulder and snuggled with him...it was so sweet (wish I had a photo, but I wasn't expecting a photo opportunity during a blood draw).
One note about our time at Children's - everywhere we went, Esther got attention for her cute antics (Jessie went everywhere with her and tap dance for more than a few observers). Carese was also the recipient of many oohs and awes as she is still so tiny. Most little babies at Children's are shrouded in their car seats, leaving one to only wonder as to why they needed to be at Children's. I'm afraid Carese just shouted "healthy newborn" there.
After that we were free to head home, but not until after we stopped to have lunch at the famous "Dick's Drive-In". Esther was asleep before we were even half way to there.
With full (heavy) stomachs, we headed home. Our only stop was at a rest area north of Marysville. We took care of diaper changes and feeding Carese in the shade (the car was quite hot as we were driving our Camaro on a super sunny day, and the Camaro has lots of windows and a black interior - the AC doesn't work anymore). Of course Jessie came along and found that the cement picnic table was a wonderful place to tap dance! Esther enjoyed some free cake from the free coffee stand there, as Daryl and I took turns making a stop at the bathroom. It was such a wonderful break in our day - peaceful, shady and with a wonderfully cool breeze to enjoy!
Our next stop was home, where I went for an immediate nap and Esther enjoyed playing with her siblings. A very tiring day, but it went even better than expected, that is for sure!
Lastly, Esther got her first majoy hair trim a couple of weeks ago - all her hair is finally one length! It was a major improvement as you can see: