Dear Margaret

Dear Margaret,

What a sweet addition to our family you have been. It’s funny how as a parent you don’t realize that you’re missing something until it arrives and is part of your family. That’s how it was with you and your sister – we didn’t know what we were missing and now our lives will never be the same.

You were born on September 2, but you know that already.  Your Mom and I went in to the hospital in the morning and before we knew it, you were born.  I almost missed you being born, too!  I was downstairs in the hospital getting something to eat, and when I got back to your Mom, she was ready to go – a couple of minutes later, you were born.

Your Mom was in love immediately.

Your first night with your Mom was very special.  You slept on her chest the entire night, and it was exactly what your Mom needed.  She was pretty nervous to have another baby, because the first few months with your sister were very difficult, and because your sister never took to breastfeeding.  But after that first night alone with you, your Mom was immediately head-over-heels in love with you.

I couldn’t spend that first night at the hospital with you and your Mom.  The hospital was really full that night and your Mom needed to share her room with another new mom, so I needed to sleep at home.  Your Noni was at home taking care of your sister, which was a huge blessing, because you needed to be in the hospital a bit longer than we would have liked.

Unfortunately you wouldn’t be able to spend as much time like this with your Mom as you would have liked. You needed to be under the UV lights just like your sister did.

You were born on a Wednesday evening at around 6:20pm, and that night is when I had to go and sleep at home.  On Thursday morning, I returned to the hospital to spend the day with you and your Mom, thinking that we would be able to bring you home later that day.  We were shocked when we were told that you were a little bit jaundiced, and we knew exactly what that meant because your sister was born the same way.

We knew what we were in for.  You would need to be under a blue light for 24 hours.  We learned from the experience with your sister, though, that we didn’t want to just let you lie in your bassinet the whole time.  We wanted to be able to hold you!  So we set up the light with you in our arms and started looking forward to taking you home on Friday.

The nurses had to re-check your blood every 12 hours or so to see what your bilirubin levels (this is what causes babies like you to have jaundice) were doing.  Unfortunately, even though you were under the light, your bilirubin kept on climbing.  This meant that you needed to stay under the light for even longer, and your Mom and I were so sad.  We just wanted to take you home.

On Friday afternoon, we were told by one of the nurses that your Mom was going to be sent home, but you needed to stay in the hospital under the lights.  We needed to leave you behind.  We didn’t want to, but it was what was best for you, and we would be able to visit you, even if we couldn’t hold you like we wanted (and we really wanted to!).

As we were getting ready to leave the hospital (and you), the pediatrician walked into the room and needed to talk to us.  When you were born, the nurses listened to your heart and they told us that they heard a murmur in your heart.  Heart murmurs are not uncommon in babies, and your sister had one when she was born, too.  We expected that yours would go away in a few days, just like your sister’s had, and we didn’t give it any more thought after that.

This pediatrician had listened to your heart earlier in the day, and he thought that it didn’t sound like a normal murmur, so he ordered an ultrasound on your heart.  This lets doctors look at your heart to see if everything is working like it should.  What the pediatrician told us next was the scariest thing I have ever been told.  He told us that you have a congenital heart defect, which is a fancy way to say that you were born with something wrong with your heart.  He isn’t a cardiologist, so he didn’t exactly understand what he had been told, but he did his best to explain that you were born with stenosis of your pulmonary valve, which means that a valve in your heart is a little bit thicker than it should be, and this was making your heart work harder than it should.

We were terrified – we didn’t understand what we had just heard, but we understood that there was something wrong with our beautiful Margaret and we were powerless to do anything about it.

After hearing that very scary news, we had to leave you at the hospital and go home and try to sleep.  The following day, we met with your cardiologist, a wonderful woman named Dr. Bhat, and she sat with us for an hour and explained to us what was happening in your heart.  She explained the pulmonary stenosis and also told us about your aortic valve, which she suspected was bicuspid instead of tricuspid (it seems that she was right).  After sitting down with her, we had a much better understanding of what was going on in your heart, and we were much less scared.

There’s a lot I could write about your heart, and I’m sure I’ll get to some of it, but I think that’s enough for now.

We finally welcomed you home (video password: “lynch”) on Sunday, September 7th.  Your sister was very curious about you but sweet all the same.  She has always been pretty sweet to you, with a few exceptions where she hit you because she was mad at me or your Mom.