My six-month-old niece, Maeve, has made the greatest strides in her recovery since she went to the hospital over five weeks ago for emergency open heart surgery.
My sister and father both emailed me to spread the good news- Maeve had her first echo cardiogram since her cardiac arrest three weeks ago and doctors were very impressed as the thickness in the walls of her heart was markedly better. Brigid says that's a huge thing because of a previous diagnosis of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which doctors believed would have inhibited the improvement of the heart for several months or forever.
If the heart tissue continued to stay as thick as it was, that would have led to a greater need for a heart transplant - so this is huge news.
Also, doctors removed her chest tubes - we are so grateful for this because the chest tubes going into her mouth are believed to be very painful. It's quite hard for a six-month-old little girl to express pain but Brigid has seen sadness in Maeve's eyes and noticed the baby crying from time to time. Just the thought of it breaks my heart. We are so glad they took out these tubes, and doctors are optimistic they will be able to take Maeve off her breathing tube in the next days. Doctors have done several tests on the baby's ventilator and Maeve did very well so, if all goes well, Maeve could be off her breathing tube soon - meaning Brigid and Steve would get to hold their sweet baby girl for the first time in over five weeks.
There is still cause for concern. Maeve experienced some major arrhythmias yesterday (irregular heartbeats) that would go from 143 to 87 up to 156 in seconds. Brigid and Steve were worried but the experts at Atlanta's Sibley Heart Center were not too concerned.
Brig talked to Mom and Dad last night and they say my sister was in extremely high spirits. Thursday was Maeve's best day in weeks and we are hoping and praying for more miraculous victories in this little girl's fight to stay alive.
We are a bit cautious as we celebrate this news, because every time Maeve shows progress, something critically wrong happens and we are left with heartbreak and disappointment.
But right now we are staying positive, continuing to pray and hoping that little girl is home or out of the CICU and in the step-down unit by Mother's Day.
Nurses are warning Brig and Steve that Maeve will be like a brand new baby when she goes home. She will be seven-months-old or more but will have lost a lot of her motor skills over this month+ of inactivity.
Maeve is keeping her eyes open all the time now and Brigid spends lots of time talking to her baby, rubbing Maeve's arms and legs and letting Maeve hold her mommy's finger.
All of the swelling has gone down around Maeve's head and almost all of the bruising on her torso is gone, too. Maeve still has some fluid in one of her lungs and doctors may need to insert a small tube to relieve the pressure because she hasn't gotten rid of the fluid on her own.
Please keep Maeve in your thoughts and prayers. This tiny little girl has a long way to go before she's out of the woods. One thing's certain - all of the positive thinking and humble requests to God are definitely working.