Having your first child brings a great deal of both excitement and anxiety. When my first child, Jay, was born, I experienced all of that excitement, coupled with a healthy dose of nervousness. I spent a lot of time wondering “What will this be like?” He arrived after a normal pregnancy and normal delivery – a big 10 pound 4 oz bundle of joy. I tried nursing him throughout his first day of life, but wasn’t having much success. Being a first time mom, I didn’t know how much of our struggle to attribute to me not knowing what I was doing as a first-time mom.
That afternoon, we asked for assistance from a lactation consultant, and Moira Griffin came to our rescue. She was so comforting and reassuring, and immediately made me feel less anxious about our unsuccessful attempts at breastfeeding. But while she was working with us, she noticed some subtle cues that something wasn’t right with baby Jay. His nostrils were flaring, and he seemed to be working really hard to breathe while nursing. She very calmly decided that he needed a pulse oximetry screen – a simple, non-invasive test that measures the level of oxygenation in the blood. She took him to the nursery and pretty quickly realized that his oxygen saturations were well below normal. He was taken to the Rex Special Care Nursery where he could get additional care. She followed him all the way there, making notes of who would be caring for him in the nursery and what I might expect. And perhaps most importantly for me, she came back and spent time with me to ensure I understood all that was happening.
After additional testing, we learned that Jay had a congenital heart defect, coarctation of the aorta. The main vessel that takes oxygenated blood to the body was constricted and he wasn’t getting the oxygen that he needed. He was transferred via Life Flight to a children’s hospital with a special cardiac unit and underwent heart surgery when he was a mere 5 days old.
I absolutely credit Moira for saving his life. She was not only attentive to those subtle cues that something was wrong, but she felt empowered to act on her concerns. She noticed the small signs and her quick action to investigate further made for a huge change in his outcome. Had he gone home with an undiagnosed heart defect, he might not be with us today.
It’s so scary as a new parent to learn that your child has a heart defect. But the care that we got from the moment Moira realized there could be a problem through the transfer of care to a specialized children’s cardiac center was incredibly smooth. Everyone was absolutely focused on keeping us as parents involved and informed about his care. I am so grateful that we can look back now, years later, and see a beautiful, perfectly healthy outcome.