Connor was born on a Wednesday with an extremely low blood sugar; this caused quite a lot of issues with eating for him. It looked like we were finally getting his blood sugar under control by Friday, when the nurse in the NICU noticed a murmur while listening to his heart. His doctor referred him to the pediatric cardiologist at the children’s hospital. Thankfully we were able to get an appointment fairly quickly and on Monday, Connor and I were in an ambulance transport on our way to our appointment.
Connor was whisked into an echocardiogram. Unfortunately, it was found that Connor had what’s called Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) and Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD).
Atrial septal defect (ASD) is a form of congenital heart defect that enables blood flow between two compartments of the heart called the left and right atria. Normally, the right and left atria are separated by a septum called the interatrial septum. If this septum is defective or absent, then oxygen-rich blood can flow directly from the left side of the heart to mix with the oxygen-poor blood in the right side of the heart, or vice versa. This can lead to lower-than-normal oxygen levels in the arterial blood that supplies the brain, organs, and tissues.
A ventricular septal defect (VSD) is a defect in the ventricular septum, the wall dividing the left and right ventricles of the heart.
This is what had been causing all of his issues with eating. His cardiologist informed us that the holes were relatively large and would probably require surgery at some point. In the meantime, he advised us that Connor needed to stay in the NICU until he reached at least 10 pounds as that was the minimum weight that was safe for surgery. Our main goal needed to be getting him to eat and gain weight. He prescribed a few different drugs that he thought might help and sent us back to the Grey Nun’s.
Over the next 4 weeks, the doctors played with his medications, trying to get the right mix and finally Connor managed to get up to just 10 pounds. Unfortunately his eating didn’t get any better. His cardiologist transferred us to the Children’s Hospital to the pediatric cardiology unit so they could monitor him more closely and he would be able to have immediate surgery when they decided it was time. We were there for about a week when they finally made the decision that Connor wasn’t thriving and it was time for him to have his surgery. Connor was 6 weeks old and he was going to have open heart surgery.
It went perfectly. The pediatric cardiac surgeon was able to close both the ASD and VSD and the other hole he found that wasn’t visible in the echocardiogram. Connor was finally able to come home a week later.
Even though they don’t know for sure, it’s very likely that that my being a diabetic contributed to Connor having this. I don’t think I mentioned it before, but when I was pregnant, I had two fetal echocardiograms. Both indicated that everything was normal with Connor’s heart. Of course they give you the spiel about the test not catching everything but at this point I was really looking to blame someone because I couldn’t deal with the thought that it was my fault. Connor’s cardiologist told us that 1 in every 1000 babies born are born with a congenital heart defect and having Diabetes only increases that chance by less than 0.5%. It took a long time for me though to stop blaming myself and realize that I had done everything in my power during pregnancy to ensure Connor was as healthy as possible. My A1C’s were all around 6 for 6 months prior to pregnancy and all during. I had eliminated most of my low’s and rarely had high’s. I saw my dietician regularly and was eating healthy. I took my prenatal vitamin religiously 2 years prior to conception and all through my pregnancy. I had to realize that this was just a fluke that we had to go through.
Thankfully, Connor will never have any issues with his heart due to the ASD and VSD as once the surgery was complete; it was like they no longer existed. The only reminder he’ll have is his scar; which when he’s a 10 year old little boy, will be something cool to show off to his friends.