Charlie's Blog

Welcome to a blog about a boy with a rare heart disease, his mum and dad, and his adventures.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.

Elizabeth's genetics came back. She has the exact same DCM-positive genetic markers as Charlie. This was a tough blow but ultimately a good thing to know. And it was completely unexpected.
It is pretty interesting that two children who have the same genetic abnormalities could react so very, very differently. Charlie never ate well - Elizabeth can't seem to get enough. Charlie was pale, although smiley - Elizabeth is very pink but serious. Charlie cried a lot - Elizabeth almost never cries (unless she is hungry). They could not be more different. If Elizabeth had been our first child, we never would've suspected something was amiss up to this point, and looking back on Charlie, the heart condition was more obvious from the start.
The genetic-Coles-Notes is this: I carry a mutation on my VCL gene. Mutations on this gene have  been linked to cases of DCM, although my particular mutation hasn't been seen before. Matt carries a mutation on his DSP gene. Mutations on this gene have been linked to both DCM and been seen in the healthy population, which means the scientists aren't sure of the importance of this gene. My VCL mutation is theoretically enough to cause DCM, but my heart is (so far) totally fine. The theory we've been presented with is that it is the combination of these two genes in our kids that gives them DCM. Because each parent has a pair of each gene but only passes on one copy, there was a chance either child could have inherited a healthy copy of the gene (i.e. they get my DSP instead of Matt's; or they get Matt's VCL instead of mine). Apparently, both our kids lost the genetic lottery.
This means that Elizabeth has officially been diagnosed with DCM, which is both immensely frustrating and a relief. At least we aren't in limbo but goddamn, this sucks. We are remembering how sick Charlie was, combined with the fact that he didn't have to have a transplant even though he was that sick. But each child is different, so while Elizabeth is doing better now it doesn't take much to start thinking about whether she'll continue to be different in a good way, or if we will see her eating drop off and go down a different (worse) route than Charlie did. I've always said I don't know how people do it when their kids have had a transplant, and now that is a possibility again.
The one thing I am really glad about is that we didn't have the early genetic testing done. We would've had these results at the beginning of the pregnancy and it would've just contributed to the rest of it being even more stressful. And it wouldn't have changed the outcome of the pregnancy at all, even with all my tough talk. 
We'll just keep living day-to-day, as everyone does. I friend of mind recently wrote in an email that it was unfortunate that DCM has 'stolen that newborn glow' from us again. I decided that while I had been letting that happen, it was going to happen no more. I have really been enjoying Elizabeth and we'll get back on that train once this news sinks in. She's our beautiful girl - crappy heart or not - and we knew that was a risk. We'll help her ride out the consequences and do our best for our little family. 

Charlie snuggles his sister.

Hangin' out with Dad, football-style. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Double Duty

I say this every few times I post, but I really didn't know so many people read this blog and were interested in how Charlie and us are doing. It warms my heart/makes me feel awful that so many people read this, and that I don't post often enough! So, tonight, a double update. First, Elizabeth's arrival:

Should have been posted:

March 3rd, 2015

Seven days ago, Elizabeth Leslie Thomas entered the world. The birth did NOT go as expected but I am super glad it went the way it did. I was induced the evening of Monday, February 23rd and by lunch on the 24th I was in full active labour. You know what's not fun? Having contractions in a car. I'm sure there were quite a few people who saw me grabbing the 'oh shit' handle of my Elantra as Matt drove me to the hospital, pressing my sweaty head against the cold window, who thought I was in the DT's from being a heroin addict or something. Got to the hospital, checked in, asked for my epidural. Seriously, that's how it went. Laboured a while longer, asked for my epidural AGAIN. The anesthesiologist was assisting in a 'complicated birth' (ohgodohgodohgod) so he'd be at least 45 minutes. 45 minutes later I asked again (how did I know it was 45 minutes later? Because there was a huge clock on the wall, allowing me to know EXACTLY how long each excruciating contraction was lasting. Lucky me.) and was told he'd be another 30 minutes. At this point, I looked at my nurse and said 'I'm not actually getting an epidural, am I?'. She assured me I was.

I was not.

At 3:20pm, I had two really intense contractions and my brilliant nurse decided to roll me on my side, lest the baby be stuck under my pubic bone. Sure enough, I rolled over body decided that was the moment Elizabeth should start making her exit. She was born at 3:34pm after 9 minutes of pushing. To look back on Charlie's birth, this could not have been more different (epidural/no epidural; laboured for 24 hours/laboured for 3; pushed for 3 hours/pushed for 9 minutes...). I was so irritated at the time that I was in that much pain, but in hindsight it was a blessing. I recovered so much faster, felt better directly afterwards and am proud of myself for completing it (like I had a choice).

Elizabeth was 9lbs, 2oz, and came out covered in goo. Evidence:

Goo-covered baby Elizabeth.
 I spent two days in the hospital and headed home.

These few few days have been lovely. She eats like a champ (although it bothers me I don't know how much she's eating...left over PTSD from Charlie's condition), sleeps well, only cries when she's hungry, and is generally very affable and amenable. She gained a few ounces in the first week home and I am enjoying her so much.

I honestly can't imagine she has DCM. Charlie was a crier from the get-go, as we remember. Elizabeth just seems so...normal! We have an appointment for an echo on Friday at Sick Kids, so we will see then how her heart is doing. Genetics don't come back for several weeks but an echo will give us a good first look. Fingers crossed.

Family minus one.

Falling in love.

Charlie was thrilled with his baby sister. Elizabeth was less happy with this pose.