Emmanuelle, born 2003When I was 18 weeks pregnant, I went for a routine ultrasound and found out that there "could be something wrong with the baby's heart." My doctor decided that I should have a second level ultrasound at 22 weeks at a different hospital where the machines were more precise.
A month is a long time to wait, especially when we weren't sure what the problem was. The level II ultrasound showed that the fetus's heart had a defect known at Tetralogy of Fallot which could be corrected with surgery after birth. After talking with one pediatric cardiologist, we decided to go with a second opinion who confirmed the diagnosis.
Our baby would be able to handle delivery fine and would have scheduled surgery at about four to six months of age. It was decided that I would switch practices and deliver at a different hospital.
Emmanuelle was born February 8, 2003 and delivery went well. She was stable, had good color and seemed to be doing just fine. In fact, one of the NICU nurses asked why such a healthy baby was in her care.
Emmanuelle went home two days after birth. She did amazingly well, growing like any other healthy baby. In fact, she was growing so fast that her heart had difficulty keeping up. So, it was decided that the surgery would be done two months earlier than expected.
On April 29th, Emmanuelle had her tetralogy repair. It was a long, nerve-wracking wait, but after giving her to the anesthesiologist at 9AM we were able to see her again at 2:30 in the afternoon. Then came the recovery period. It was not easy seeing my baby with lots of tubes and wires connected to her, but that didn't last long. She is a fighter and was home six days after surgery!
Emmanuelle, now known to many as Manu, is doing great today. She has a lot of energy, has a wonderful personality and has made a positive impact on our world. She is a very talented teenager, singing, playing the piano and guitar, acting and she now has her black belt in Taekwondo. She lives with a light heart murmur and at some point, she will need to have a new valve put in, but we are hopeful that medicine will continue to improve and we won't need another open-heart surgery. Manu has yearly visits to the pediatric cardiologist to make sure that everything stays the way it is.
As difficult as it was to go through most of the pregnancy worrying about the "what ifs", we are thankful that this defect was discovered in-utero. The early detection gave us the time to prepare, become educated about her heart defect and plan for the best surgical route for our daughter.
Story by Emmanuelle's mom, Nicole of Maine
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