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heart check

We took our first trip out of the house with our new baby today, and it wasn’t a fun one.

We went to see a pediatrician in Columbia this afternoon to have Indiana’s dry skin and a few other things looked it. The doctor we saw was not kind, to say the least. I’d like to think he was having a bad day, but I don’t think he was. It was more than that. He clearly didn’t care for people who choose to birth their babies at home or question what immunizations your child should get. When we told him that we wanted to do some research about immunizations before we jump into having them done, he laid into us about how the internet is a bad resource, and how long he’s been in practice and “if we had a problem with our car, wouldn’t we trust the care of it to a professional mechanic”?

Well, that was a bad analogy… seeing as how more times than naught, we’ve been ripped off by shady mechanics who were only after our money, and weren’t really concerned if the problem was fixed or not. I had my camera and was filming our Indy’s first doctor visit and at home point, and looking back on the footage, it makes me even more upset how arrogant he was. I think Joey thought a fist fight between he and I was about to break out. When he finally stopped lecturing us and got around to looking at our baby, he took one look and asked me to turn off the camera. Then he asked Joey, “how old are you”. Joey said she was 38. Then he said, “has anyone told you that your baby most-likely has down syndrome?”. We said yes, that’s part of why we were here. We wanted to see if they could do the genetic chromosome test for us. He then went into a new rant about how “if he had been the doctor and the baby had been born at the hospital, a complete heart test would’ve been done and what if she turns blue in the night, and we were already 4 days behind getting a full battery of tests done”, etc… All we could think was, yes… and because the baby was breech, you would’ve surgically taken the baby with a c-section, instead of the beautiful home labor and birth we experienced, and Indy would’ve been immediately taken from us and robbed of the chance to truly bond with Joey those first few minutes, hours and days. We love and trusted our midwife implicitly, and still do.

We don’t regret anything, except that doctor visit. The one good thing that came from it was that he called Vanderbilt and got us an appointment that day to have Indiana’s heart fully checked…if we could get there in an hour before the cardiology dept closed for the day. We got Indiana dressed, said goodbye to that clinic forever, and drove to Nashville and rushed in with a screaming baby (it had been a long drive there, and she was starving from all, with no time to feed her).

When we arrived at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, our experience of the medical world changed. I mean, everything Joey and I’ve ever seen, or known about hospitals, doctors and medicine changed. We met incredible nurses who exuded love and caring and patience and doctors who were so sensitive to you and your baby’s needs, that you fell in love with them as well as their practice immediately. We had never seen anything like it.

The first thing they had to do was give Indy an echocardiogram to fully check out her heart. I had read that many babies with down syndrome are born with a severe heart problem that requires open-heart-surgery right away. Though our midwife had checked Indy repeatedly since her birth for any sign of a heart problem (murmur, etc..) and hadn’t found anything to fear, it was important to get her checked out completely to be sure. They said that the echo took 45 minutes to do and that Indy needed to be as still as possible. That was almost impossible because she was crying so hard, starving. And though they were all about to shut down for the day, instead they told us to go ahead and nurse Indiana until she was calm and happy, and afterwards, they would do the test. What a blessing. It worked perfect and she handled the test great.

After a few more tests, we sat in the waiting room waiting for the cardiologist Dr Moore to come in and tell us what they learned. When he came and sat with us, he looked over Indiana again very thoroughly and said, that she does have a whole in her heart, but it’s a small one, and not the serious one that they look for in baby’s with down syndrome. Her heart problem most-likely in time will heal itself and that we will all just keep an eye on it and come back and have her checked from time to time. Then, one last time, we asked him if he thought Indy has down syndrome. He said, “yes I feel sure that she does”. He explained why he believed so… her eyes, the single line in the palm of her hand, the bridge of her little nose.

Though we’d heard the doctor at Maury Regional that first day tell us, then a nurse-practioner, then one of the midwives, then the rude doctor early today tell us the same thing… we just couldn’t really see it. It’s not that we were holding out hope for a different answer, we honestly had just fallen in love with our little baby girl and after 4 days of staring at her sweet little face and lips and eyes and fingers and toes… she just looks like a normal, perfect baby to us. But in that last time that we asked Dr Moore, Joey and knew that we didn’t need to ask again. We really don’t even need to get the chromosome test done (though of course we have to) to find out for sure. We know in our hearts. Our little one has down syndrome.

When we left the hospital, we were starving, so we called our oldest daughter Heidi, who lives only a mile or so from Vanderbilt and we drove to her house to be with her and her husband Casey. They live in the neatest little crooked house (the floors are so un-level, you have to walk uphill to get to the kitchen and downhill to the bathroom), and they welcomed us with open arms. While Joey fed Indy again and visited with Casey, Heidi and I drove to Koi, a nearby thai restaurant, and picked up dinner to go. Then we all sat in their crooked kitchen and had a wonderful meal and laughed and smiled and cried as we told them all we’d be through and learned that day. It felt so good to be with them, to have them to share our life, and this moment with. In another way, it was so strange and magical to me to know that we were sitting in Heidi’s kitchen talking about and loving on this new little baby, when only a short 27 years ago, Heidi was my new little baby that I was in love with and just learning how to take care. Isn’t life a crazy, beautiful thing?

Today they checked Indiana’s heart, and we learned that it is strong and she’s gonna be okay. And I think Joey and I also learned that our hearts are strong, and we too, are gonna be okay.



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