Friday, April 19, 2013

Prayers for Kaden

Dear Friends and Family,

This blog update is actually one that has been over a month in the making. We have decided that instead of pretending that everything is ok, we are going to be open and share with you the hard news that has come into our lives recently. We hope that you will be understanding and will keep our family in your thoughts and prayers.

Everything had been going well with the baby until one of my routine ultrasounds. I noticed the ultrasound was taking a really really long time and the ultrasound tech had gotten very quiet. Immediately I felt a dark feeling come over me as he announced that he needed to go get the doctor. After another excruciating 30 minutes, the doctor sighed and turned towards me. He found some very concerning things in my baby's heart. Kindly, he drew a picture and explained to me that little Kaden's heart wasn't functioning very well, one of the main valves was very thin, almost closed off, and it was causing back flow of blood.

Not knowing what this meant or what to do, I sat there in shock as the nurse scheduled me to see a cardiac specialist at the fetal center. I would undergo a echocardiogram so the specialist could diagnose Kaden's heart more accurately. The appointment wouldn't be for a week agonizingly long time.

However, sometimes there are perks in life that you have to take advantage of. Since Ben is a medical student, he has access to all the personal emails of doctors in the med center and he sent out an email to the head cardiac specialist at Texas Children's. She was able to rearrange her schedule and get us in to see her the next day. We felt so blessed to receive answers right away.

After the echocardiogram, things were much clearer as to our baby's condition. He has been diagnosed with severe Pulmonary Stenosis and Tricuspid Valve Regurgitation. There was an accumulation of fluid surrounding his heart, indicating the start of heart failure. Though he had no other visible markers, this heart defect is often associated with genetic disorders, indicating potential for mental and physical disability. Since his heart was so severe, our doctor also cautioned us that there is a chance Kaden might not live to be born.

In just two short days our world came crashing down. We have to face the possibility of losing our little boy or the probability of him having severe problems for the rest of his life. Nothing could have prepared us for the shock and grief we've felt.

In response, I think we both went numb. We stopped all our baby preparations and felt our excitement come to a halt. We did our best to pretend everything was ok and so we apologize to those we lied to.
The specialist told us that all we could do was watch and wait and that a follow-up appointment would tell us even more.

After four weeks that seemed to last four years, we went to see the specialist again. I had been feeling our energetic baby kick me constantly and so I knew that he was still alive. Also, our family had done a lot of fasting and prayer and we know those prayers were answered. Miraculously, Kaden's heart has not gotten any worse, and the fluid around his heart is gone. Though the stenosis is still severe, his heart is pumping as efficiently as can be expected and we have high hopes that it won't digress. Though not out of the danger zone yet, our doctor is more confident that he will make it to term.

What we can expect after he is born isn't the ideal, but again, gives us high hopes. We know that Kaden will have to undergo surgery immediately after birth. We are looking at a NICU stay of anywhere between 2 weeks to 3 months, depending on the success of the surgeries. We are praying that the balloon valvuloplasty will successfully open up his pulmonary valve and that we won't have to go to the extreme of open heart surgery. We still do not know about any mental disabilities or disorders, but cannot know until he is born.

Until Kaden makes his debut, I am seeing my obgyn every week and the specialist every two weeks. They will monitor his growth and make sure that he continues to thrive. We ask all of you to keep Kaden's heart in your prayers, that he will continue to grow and that he will be able to lead a normal life.

This news is something that has devastated us, but through our faith, our family and friends, we feel supported and that we can get through. Thank you for reading! We love you!

Ben and Callista Welling

Monday, April 8, 2013

27 weeks! Start of my third trimester!

Well, my belly has really grown again. My innie belly button is almost an outie!!! I can't wait! An update on my pregnancy:

Morning sickness: FINALLY gone!!!! Thank heavens! But it has been immediately replaced by swollen feet, pounding headaches, and overwhelming fatigue.

Cravings: Cheese, yogurt, chocolate milk. Anything dairy sounds delicious! Also, chips and salsa. Can't get enough of it!

I can't believe that just under three weeks ago I ran a half marathon. I know I couldn't do it now! I've really slowed down my pace--I think the bump just got really heavy really fast! So for now I'm stuck to working out on the elliptical, and that has completely thrown out the window my motivation to work out. Am I the only one to get insanely bored on those machines?

I'm really grateful for Ben who always tells me I look beautiful but I am definitely getting to that stage where I'm really struggling to feel comfortable with my body. I feel like I get stared at whenever I go places and it really bothers me. I wish I could ignore it but I honestly hate going even to the store because someone will ALWAYS comment on my bump, and often the comments are not nice. For example, in the elevator of my apartment a lady addressed me saying, "Wow, you must be pretty close, huh?" AH! I KNOW I AM BIG BUT NOT THAT BIG AND YOU SHOULD NEVER SAY THAT TO A PREGNANT LADY! Needless to say, I am super irritated with people and I'll blame it as another pregnancy symptom :-)

On a positive note, General Conference this weekend was incredible. I was reminded of why I am going through all this, and it is because I know that the greatest happiness in life comes from family. I can't wait to meet my little boy!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Adventures in Austin

Well, Ben and I officially LOVE Austin, Texas. Sorry, Houston, but Austin just seems more our style. We love the rolling hills, the wildflowers, the restaurants, and the culture. Every time we go we have a really good time. It is only a 2 hour drive from our house so it's the perfect vacation spot for weekend get aways.

Two saturdays ago I ran my 1/2 marathon!!! I was 24 weeks pregnant (almost 25!) and ran it in 2:40. It was honestly the best experience. I took it easy and made friends along the way. I tried not to be too competitive, but at the last 3 miles I left my companions in the dust and pushed it to beat all the ladies that said they were determined not to be beaten by a pregnant lady. Too bad for them. I torched them all :-)

We also went camping and before you think I'm really crazy, we had a super nice air mattress and full restrooms. It wasn't all that rugged:) We went with our good friends Jeff and Rachel Whitlock. It was a BLAST! We had tinfoil dinners and smores for dinner and got in trouble with the other campers for being up too late and too loud...turns out those other campers were MORMON too! Oops...way to represent :(

On Saturday we went to Mckinney falls. We had a picnic lunch and hiked and played in the water. The water wasn't too cold...and I really enjoyed the secret cave behind one of the waterfalls. I wish we had gotten more pictures! Ben and Jeff spent all afternoon doing flips off the falls into the water. Everyone there was watching and we heard them mutter under their breath about "those two crazy guys" and warn their kids not to copy them.

I also took a painting class is a pic of my painting. I don't really like how it turned out. It looks sad. But hey, I actually learned a lot about the proper way to blend colors and hold a brush. I think I just might take it up as a hobby.

Regarding my pregnancy, I still feel sick but it is easing up. I'm REALLY starting to show and my neighbor in the elevator whom I see every morning said, "Hey, are you pregnant?!" to me today. It made me laugh and I wish I had the courage to say, "No, I'm just fat" to see his reaction. But that would be mean.

More belly pics coming soon!