Our first appointment was with Bowen’s cardiologist, Dr. Butto. As usual, our nurse took Sarah’s height, weight, and blood pressure. We then waited for the doctor to arrive and show us into the ultrasound room where he would examine Bowen’s heart from every angle. I’m equally amazed every time I see an ultrasound in progress. It’s so hard to comprehend that a machine can turn sound into sight, allowing our doctor to measure the size and blood flow of our baby’s heart while he’s still inside the womb. We stared at the monitor with intensity, looking for a sign, hoping and praying to be told there was more blood flowing to the left side of that little heart; but after a thorough examination the doctor said it looked about the same. Despite the fact there weren’t improvements, we were thankful he didn’t see any further complications. Besides his heart, the doctor said Bowen was growing just fine.
After our appointment with Dr. Butto, we stopped at the café for bagels and coffee, and then continued on to the Maternal-Fetal Medicine wing to meet with another specialist, Dr. Hnatt. Once again, I watched the ultrasound technician measure his little arms and legs, count the fingers on his hands and chase him around for a good shot of everything she needed the doctor to see. After evaluating the images on his computer, Dr. Hnatt agreed that everything looked good despite his condition. He then reiterated what he had told us when we had first met, only five short weeks ago. He made it clear to us that the chances of Bowen having Down Syndrome or some other chromosomal anomaly is higher because of his heart defect. He offered to perform an amniocentesis for the second time, but Sarah and I politely turned it down. Although this test could tell us with up to 99% accuracy whether Bowen has other defects, there are a couple reasons we didn’t care to have it done. First of all, the chances of having a baby with HLHS are about one in twenty-five hundred, while the chances of having a miscarriage due to an amniocentesis is estimated to be one in four hundred. Secondly, Sarah and I would feel blessed to be the parents of a child with “Down’s” or any other illness for that matter. Even in the worst case, if a test were to deem Bowen “incompatible with life”, Sarah and I would never question carrying our son to term and cherishing every second he was in our arms. Ultimately, if we were to perform the test and Bowen ended up being the one in four hundred babies that die, we wouldn’t be able to live with the decision we had made. Knowing the outcome of such a test just doesn’t matter to us.
Beyond our decision to not perform the amniocentesis, the next set of decisions we faced was where to deliver and who would be Bowen’s surgeon. After speaking with our doctors, we made tentative plans to deliver in Toledo and then transfer Bowen to The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor for his first open heart surgery with Dr. Buve.
We are still praying that God will heal Bowen’s heart, whether it’s in the womb or by the hands of a doctor. In the meantime, we are soaking in all the mini miracles along the way…like all the wonderful people God has brought alongside of us during this time. We are so grateful for all your thoughts and prayers. Please continue to pray for us and for Bowen’s doctors (Dr. Butto, Dr. Hnatt, and Dr. Buve).