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Isabella was born at BryanLGH East in Lincoln at 34 weeks via emergency c-section. She is a twin, has a brother named Ethan. She and her brother were immediately taken to the NICU, as neither were breathing on their own. The next day, the NICU nurse called up to my room to tell me that the doctor was coming to speak with me, and wanted to make sure my husband, Seth was there as well. Dr. Ansah came to the room and explained that he heard there was something wrong with Isabella’s heart and he was having another doctor come see her. Dr. Martin came over to the hospital that afternoon and explained to us that Isabella had 2 defects; an atrial septal defect and a ventricular septal defect. She explained that she would need surgery to repair the defects, but that she needed to get a little bigger before they could do the surgery.

Isabella was taken to Children’s hospital on December 16th, 2008 to meet Dr. Hammel. Dr. Hammel explained to us the surgery that she was about to undergo, as well as the risks and complications of the surgery. The next day we went to the CARES unit and handed her off to the amazing doctor and nurses at Children’s. The next several hours were what I know to be the most difficult hours of my life. After the surgery, when they took us up to the unit, I had not idea what to expect. The tubes, the machines, the monitors, among the care staff, surrounded this tiny, precious baby, my baby, on the enormous “heart cart” was overwhelming. I couldn’t look, but I couldn’t look away. I had never had that feeling in my life. The relief surgery was over, the happiness she was ok, the fear that it wasn’t over yet, the hurt for the tiny baby girl was overwhelming as well. The nurse, her name was Katie, saw the look on my face. She anticipated my reaction, she encouraged me, she helped me, she supported me, all while taking care of my baby in those crucial few hours immediately following the surgery.

We stayed at Children’s for a week. It was Christmas time, so there were several people visiting- football players, hockey players, families, all there to lift the spirits of the patients and families staying at Children’s. I attended a Christmas Party hosted by the Midwest Heart Connection while I was there and they handed out build-a-bears to all the heart surgery patients. Amazing, when you think they had just performed open heart surgery on my baby. When we were getting ready to leave, I kept thinking, are they really sending me home, with this baby? The nurses reassured me and encouraged me, and off we went. It was the 23rd of December and absolutely the best Christmas present ever, to have my baby girl home and healthy.

Isabella is now 3, and follows up with Dr. Martin here in Lincoln. We have found a supportive group in the Midwest Heart Connection, meeting other people who have had this experience. Now, Isabella points to her scar and says “this is my scar. This is where Dr. Hammel fixed my heart”

Its hard to say that you love a hospital. It’s not a place that people want to be, but you can say that about Children’s. The people there are warm, supporting, and caring – not in the way that you expect doctors and nurses to be, but in a way that exceeds your expectations.