I don't think Brandon and I could ever put into words how grateful we are right now. Grateful for the many prayers for Anne Marie and our family, grateful for all of the kind messages we've gotten, grateful for our friends and family who were with us today. And mostly grateful to God for hearing and answering our prayers and for bringing Anne Marie through surgery.
Before surgery we were told of its many risks and the chances of her surviving surgery on ECMO. The doctor told us Anne Marie's chances of survival "are low, but they're not zero." So of course we were fearful as we gazed into her eyes this morning (see below).
So we prayed that God would be with the surgeons and all the doctors and that she would make it through surgery. Throughout the operation the doctors would come and let us know how things were going. Each time they said that she was doing really well and that her vital signs were looking good. After the surgery, the neonatologist and trauma doctor said that Anne Marie did so well during surgery that they weren't really even needed. After it was over the surgeon came to explain what they did and the neonatologist came to tell us what the next steps would be. Even though we have had countless sonograms and several MRIs, the doctors didn't know how big the hole in her diaphragm was going to be until they actuallly opened her up. As it turns out, she had virtually no diaphragm and not even much tissue around where the diaphram should have been. They had to use a GORE-TEX patch to form a diaphragm and sew it to parts of her rib and what little tissue they could find. They also weren't able to close her abdomen completely because it was too small for all of her organs to fit. Over time the abdomen can expand and they will close it then. The surgeon also warned us that with this big of a patch that there is a high risk of reoccurance. Her doctor also warned us that Anne Marie's next few days could be very good or very bad depending on if any complications arise. We know that Anne Marie still has a long road ahead of her, but we are just so thankful for today and are not worrying about tomorrow. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
The neonatologist is very pleased with all of Anne Marie's "numbers" (oxygen levels, blood pressure, heart rate, etc). She is still on ECMO and the goal is still to wean her off ECMO onto a ventilator and to continue to try to expand her lungs. Now that she has more room in her chest cavity, they are hoping they might have more success than before. She had an X-ray this evening and already her heart has shifted over just a bit. The two biggest concerns right now for Anne Marie are trying to control her bleeding (she is on blood thinner while she is on ECMO so the ECMO pump doesn't clot up) and making sure that her kidneys are functioning properly from the dialysis. This is what they are very carefully monitoring tonight and will continue to watch.
We were given lots of information today about what we could expect and what the long road ahead might look like. But for now we are praising God for his tender mercies toward us today.