Although it can be tough to hear something’s wrong with your baby’s heart when you’re pregnant, Brandi says she’s glad she knew ahead of time that her daughter would need special care when she arrived three years ago.
Brandi and her husband found out that Izzy had several heart defects at Brandi’s 20-week ultrasound. They were referred right away to Sibley Heart Center Cardiology, where Dr. Harden began preparing them for what was to come. They arranged for Brandi to give birth to Izzy at Northside Hospital in Atlanta, where she would be close to the specialized care she needed. Izzy was diagnosed with coarctation of the aorta (COA), double outlet right ventricle (DORV), atrial septal defect (ASD), ventricular septal defect (VSD), Pulmonary Stenosis, Mitral Valve Stenosis and Hypoplastic Aortic Arch. She had her first surgery to correct her heart defects at 5 days old.
Sibley was pretty great with us,” Brandi said. “Before Izzy was born, we met with the surgeon and the nurse practitioner. They spent the good part of a day just on our case, going through everything and giving us the tools to mentally prepare, although nothing can really prepare you.”
On the day of Izzy’s first surgery, Brandi hadn’t yet been allowed to hold her newborn daughter with all the tubes and lines in her body. She said a Sibley nurse made sure she was able to hold Izzy and establish skin-to-skin contact in the hours leading up to the operation, which was very meaningful to her. Izzy would later get a heart catheterization, and at 9 months old, she underwent open heart surgery. She now has a little brother, as well as a big brother, making her the princess in the middle.
Brandi says that the most important thing to do as the parent of a heart warrior is to find your tribe. She has found resources, solace and comfort by connecting with other Georgia heart moms through the Kids at Heart Facebook page and special events.
“When something like this happens, a lot of people are going to drop off, but a lot of people who you wouldn’t expect to are really going to be there for you,” Brandi said. “We’ve had many people who just showed up ready and willing to help. Meeting parents more seasoned than you who have already been through it are a good place to look for guidance and help. You’ll have a lot of lost days when you don’t know what to do, and it’s nice to have that group, that shoulder to cry on. We know we’re lucky to have Izzy, and we try to soak in every moment.”
For more information about Sibley Heart Center Cardiology and our pediatric cardiology specialists, click here.