In May of 2010, we found out some very exciting news - we were pregnant! At the time, we had two other beautiful children, Jake who was 6 and Katelyn who was 4. We were so excited and couldn’t wait to share this experience with them. They had wanted a little brother or sister for a long time!
We were busy planning on the arrival of our new one and getting lost in the excitement of all the possibilities that comes with the birth of a new child. As we did before with Jake and Katie, we decided not to find out the sex of the baby. At 19 weeks pregnant, we went for our ultrasound.
The doctors said the baby looked good but they couldn’t get a great picture of the heart. After what felt like hours, the baby moved just enough to get a good picture. The room got very quiet and more and more doctors started coming in. Finally, they turned on the lights and told us they were sure that they saw a hole in the heart. They wanted us to come back the following week to have an echocardiogram done on the baby. After shedding many tears, we knew that there was nothing we could do in the doctor’s office so we came home. The following week, we went back and had the echo done and met with a pediatric cardiologist. She told us that there was a hole in the heart and that the condition was called Atrioventricular Septal Defect (AVSD). She reassured us that this was a very operable condition and that the baby would have a very close to normal life after the surgery was done. She explained to us that the baby could be carried to full term and delivered naturally and we would have to spend about 7-10 days in the hospital to find the right combination of medications. The baby could then come home and would have surgery at about 4-6 months old. Even with all this news, we felt comforted that the success rate was high and that the doctor’s predicted that after surgery, our baby was going to be fine.
On January 13, 2011 at 2:39 AM we got to meet our baby that we had seen so many times in pictures. It was a girl and she came into this world as a feisty little thing! Isabella Rose was 5 lbs 13 oz, but was very strong. She ate right away and was doing amazingly well. The cardiologists came to see her at 7:00 PM that night, did an echo, and told us that her heart appeared better than they thought it was prenatally. We could actually maybe go home in 5 days or so.
Izzie’s journey from this point on was filled with many turns that we were not prepared for. Everything was going as expected – and then very quickly, our world was turned upside down. Izzie grew too tired to eat and no one knew exactly what was happening. In that one day, we saw our beautiful baby girl get poked, a feeding tube put in and finally put on a ventilator. But she was fighting! And she was strong! And on day 5 our baby girl was back to her feisty self and off all the machines – we could not have been more proud of her! At this time, she was on her heart medications and she would have to stay on them until her surgery. But just as quickly as before, she took another turn. She was back on the machines, and this time her little heart had been damaged. We had no idea where our next turn was going to take us. Again, our strong girl fought back against this and stabilized. On January 26, she was transferred to the Stollery Hospital in Edmonton. There they are specialized in hearts and have the top Pediatric cardiologists and surgeons. At the Stollery, they stabilized Isabella more and continued to monitor her heart regularly. She had so much fight in her and bounced back from everything. She was eating again (through IV) and even sucking on her soother. At times such as this, what may seem like a small thing is actually a huge victory. We celebrated all these victories!
Around midnight on February 21, one of Isabella’s doctors had mentioned that it was time to make a decision in regards to which surgery would be best for Izzie. If the surgery was not going to happen right away, Izzie could maybe be transferred closer to home until the point she was big enough to do the surgery. Everything was looking up. And then again, just as quickly as before, our world was turned upside down.
On the morning of February 22 at about 5:00 AM, Izzie got sick. There really is no explanation of what happened, but this time was very different - our life was about to change but not in the way we had hoped. There were more machines, there were more nurses and the doctors were there. When we saw Isabella for the first time that day, she looked up at us and told us it was time to let her go – she was just too tired. Surrounded by the ones who loved her the most, and in the arms of her mom, Isabella peacefully took her last breath.
In Izzie’s 6 weeks with us, we built memories that will last lifetime. We all have our own special memory of our sweet girl that we will treasure always. There is no doubt that Izzie changed everyone who knew and loved her. She has taught so many people so many different things. Izzie was a gift, more like a miracle, that was chosen for all of us to witness. We consider ourselves to be blessed to call her ours. We miss and think of her everyday.