Tyson and I were updated throughout the day about Nellie’s surgery by phone calls from one of the nurses. Awaiting each phone call was what got us through her surgery. They anticipated Nellie’s surgery taking anywhere from 6-8 hours. We planned for the long haul, so that we were not disappointed if things took a little longer than usual.
Our first phone call came a little before 10:00 AM. They informed us that everything was in place to begin surgery. My heart dropped a little knowing that there was no turning back. She was open and was in Dr. MacDonald’s, Dr. Hansen’s, and the Lord’s hands. I tried my best to not think about things. I kept myself distracted by reading uplifting words from others through social media, treats, and conversations with my mom and Tyson. We also had other family members throughout the day lending us support and comfort.
The second phone call came at 12:00 PM. I took this phone call. The nurse let me know that Dr. MacDonald had dissected (I don’t like that word) what he needed to and was testing the waters on whether or not she was going to have to go on bypass. She told me baby was doing great. I hung up and couldn’t believe how quickly the surgery was progressing.
My phone rang soon after around 1:30 PM. I handed Tyson the phone because I wanted to hear how she was doing through Tyson’s words, incase there was any type of bad news. He hung up the phone and told me they didn’t end up having to use the heart and lung machine. Not only that, but they didn’t end up having to put a patch in her LPA to expand the artery. It was originally ¼ the size of her RPA. They let him know that they would be finishing up and that we could give her a kiss as she passed form the OR into the PICU. We about fell to floor in gratitude.
About an hour later the nurse peeked her head into the waiting room and asked us if we wanted to see our baby. We jumped right out of ours chairs and ran to Penelope as fast as we could. I was so surprised when I saw her. She looked amazing. She looked nothing like I had expected, which I know ended up being a blessing. She looked perfect lying there. I gave her as many kisses as they would let me. A wave of overwhelming emotion came over me. My baby did it. She made it through open-heart surgery like a little warrior princess. They wheeled her into the PICU and got her stabilized before they would let us see her again.
We found a quiet corner in the hall and said a prayer of thanksgiving. I hugged Tyson tighter than I ever had before. The tears wouldn’t stop falling. I knew that our little family had been watched over and all of the prayers that had gone out in Penelope’s behalf had been heard. We went back into the waiting room and waited to get the okay to see Penelope.
As we were walking back to the waiting room we crossed paths with Dr. MacDonald. He went to shake my hand and I asked if I could give him a hug instead. He said yes. I embraced him with all of my might. He went onto tell us about Nellie’s surgery and how everything went. They didn’t end up having to use any blood medication. He also said she probably lost more blood from her lab work the day before, than she actually did during surgery. My mom asked if the surgery went faster than he had anticipated. He told us that he didn’t know if it was him or someone else, but things went very well. I knew that my Heavenly Father had been with him and my baby. I gave him another hug and told him if I could, I would kiss him. We got a good laugh. He said if your husband wasn’t so big. Tyson told him he would kiss him if he could as well. The poor guy was probably scared of the crazy Parker’s.
I had been pumping throughout the day and happened to finish up just at the right time. I had to go into the PICU to hand my milk to the nurse attending Penelope. The staff asked if I wanted to see my baby. I couldn’t believe she was already ready. I went out and grabbed Tyson, so that we could see her together, for the first time. We grabbed each other’s hands and walked into see our sweet angel. I couldn’t believe my eyes. She was awake and did not have her breathing tube in. Our eyes immediately met one another’s. She looked at me and I looked at her. She knew I was there and that brought each of us comfort. I smiled as I saw her going to town on her little binkie. I kissed and sang to her so that she knew everything would be okay.
After she started coming to a little more she started getting really fussy. She had originally only been on Tylenol for pain. They finally gave her some stronger narcotics to try and put her at ease. It still didn’t seem to be working. I couldn’t stand to watch my baby struggle or have tears falling down her face. I decided to run to the restroom when I came back I recognized a familiar face. One of our friends from our Ward happens to work at Children’s and came up to say hi. This came at a time when Penelope really needed a blessing. Tyson and him were able to give her a blessing of comfort. A little later she was finally able to get some rest. Again I was overcome with gratitude for the Priesthood.
Nellie is now resting as well as possible. She has had a big day and has done extraordinary things. I never knew I could love her more than the day she was born, but today I can say I love her a million times more. The doctors and nurses who were in on that surgery were phenomenal. They took such great care of our little girl. I am so grateful that my mom was able to be by my side all day and that Tyson’s family was also able to be here throughout the day as well. I don’t know what I would do without family.
Thank you again to everyone for your love, support, compassion, prayers, fasting, and encouraging words. They have truly carried us through this trying time.