Annaleigh is out of surgery and it looks like it was a success! (If you missed the surgery post, here’s the link.)
The surgeon, Dr. Gallucci, went in and dug around and found that a small band had grown around her bowel in her small intestine (he called it a “congenital stricture”). It was there from birth, though there’s not a definite reason as to why it grew. The doctor compared it to a small piece of piano wire tied around a balloon. He cut a 2 cm piece of the bowel off to remove the band and then sewed her back up.
The band that grew is something that the doctor has seen before, though it’s not exactly common. Annaleigh had a number of advantages going for her to make the surgery a bit easier that it could have been. First, she was premature. Had she been a full-term baby, the band would have remained and tied off her intestines as she grew, causing all sorts of serious and potentially life-threatening complications. (So in some small way it is a good thing that our babies were born so early!) Second, she was in really good health. The anesthesiologist, the surgeon, and Dr. Hiatt all said that they’ve seen this type of surgery performed on babies who weren’t breathing well on their on, who had different types of infections, and who were just generally in poor health. Despite her GI issues, Annaleigh has been in very good health since she was born (if such a thing can be said for a 25-week baby).
So now we wait about a week to ten days. In that time, they will be watching her very closely. She’s getting regular blood work, x-rays, pain medicine, and antibiotics; she’ll remain on a respirator for the foreseeable future; and they obviously won’t be giving her any food. We can officially say that the surgery was a success when she is eating and pooping with regularity.
Assuming Annaleigh eats and poops by next weekend, the really good news about this is that Dr. Gallucci said “this will effect her exactly zero in the long run.” She won’t need any special treatments, she doesn’t need a stoma, and she won’t have any long-term side effects. As you can imagine, this news was a HUGE relief. After being told to it would last an hour or so, the surgery took about three hours, and in that time Brooke and I imagined all the worst case scenarios possible. At one point, we were both sure that we were going to lose our precious Annaleigh, so to have something so impermanent as the outcome… well, we were just beyond happy.
We hardly spent any time with Lily and Charlie today, but they understood. Both are doing well and putting on weight. Charlie is definitely not going to be getting the breast milk supplement because he couldn’t tolerate it for the second time now; instead, they’ll keep increasing his feedings and possibly give him some calorie-rich formula too. Lily had her central line removed today because she’s doing so well on her feedings and no longer needs the extra calories and vitamins. They’re both still not exactly expert breathers but at least they’re growing.
And that’s all for today. As a brief aside, today was the third time that Brooke and I had planned to go for dinner and a movie between NICU visits, and now, for the third time, our plans were abruptly changed. So we will never again plan to see a movie and have dinner!