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Tuesday, July 13th, 2004

We arrived in Ann Arbor, Michigan around 10:00 pm local time (9:00 pm back in Des Moines). The staff at Residence Inn has been awesome, there was a gift, a bib, waiting for Little Al. And there were two stuffed bears, one each for the girls.

 

Tomorrow, Wednesday, we will head to the University of Michigan Hospital for a tour, and the social worker is going to explain to the girls what is going to be performed on Little Al in terms they will understand.

 

Everyone so far has been outstanding and going beyond our expectations, hopefully I can report the same each and every day.

 

Here's hoping I will be able to update tomorrow.

 

Ryan, Holly & family

 

Wednesday, July 14th, 2004

Today we met with the social worker, Barb Shaltis, who gave us a tour of the hospital and explained some of what will be going on in the next few weeks.

We saw several young heart patients ranging in ages of less than a day to some toddlers who were in for their 3rd surgery. We were able to talk with 2 families that were having the Norwood procedure. One had just completed his 2nd surgery, the other his 3rd. Both families gave us the same encouraging words, "you have come to the right place", and "everyone here is wonderful".

 

Holly and I both came away feeling that some weight had been lifted, our hope is much stronger than a few days ago. However, we both still feel strongly that we will win this battle, quoting Gene Krantz, "Failure is not an option!"

 

The girls and grandparents are doing great, while Holly & I ran some errands they stayed at the Inn and played games.

 

We almost took a trip past the U of M football stadium, but decided to wait until this weekend when we would have more free time. We need to see where Little Al will be spending his Fall Saturday afternoons in 18 years!

 

Tomorrow, Thursday, Holly & I will be busy with 3 appointments that span all day long. We should know much more after that and be able to provide a much clearer timeline of what is to come. The girls and grandparents will be spending the whole day together swimming and playing cards.

 

Check back for the next update, sometime after Thursday evening!

 

Ryan, Holly & family

 

Thursday, July 15th, 2004

We had 3 appointments today, it got a little long for Holly, so she is glad it is over.

 

First we saw two high risk O/B Doctors in the University Clinic. They just did a regular prenatal visit to get to know Holly, and to see if she is dilated anymore. She's not, but she is enough to be induced, so that was a relief!

 

Secondly, we went to the Pediatric Cardiology department and did another echo-cardiogram. This is basically just an ultrasound of only the baby's heart. That took about an hour, and then we met with the Pediatric Cardiologist who talked to us about exactly what is happening, and what each surgery will do. So, not much new information there.

 

And, the last appointment was in the perinatal assessment department for one more ultrasound to make sure every other part of the baby is healthy, and to guess his size. From that, we saw that everything else on this baby of ours is perfectly healthy. The poor baby is very squished in there! He is on his right side, and his head is way down. They guessed his weight to be 7 lbs. 10 oz!!! That is plenty big for Holly! She said, though, that number could be 15% large or small. So, chances are he is between 61/2 and 7 1/2 pounds.

 

It's absolutely amazing to Holly that her son could have such a serious heart condition, yet be so healthy otherwise.

 

The one thing that made us feel so good today was that every person we talked to today knew exactly who Dr. Mooradian is. He is the pediatric cardiologist we saw in Des Moines who directed us to Michigan. So we know having him as our Dr. back home will be the best thing for Little Al.

 

As of now, we are scheduled to be induced Monday evening, delivery could take a few hours to a few days we were told. So who knows when he will be born, we will just try to keep you all updated.

 

Who knows...Little Al might decide he is ready to come on out on his own...which would very much please his mommy!!!

 

Ryan, Holly & family...

 

GO WOLVERINES!!!

 

Friday, July 16th, 2004

This morning, after our 7:30 AM appointment with Dr. Bove, the surgeon who will be operating on Little Al, we all decided to check out the University of Michigan Stadium. It is the largest stadium in the U.S., and is quite an awesome sight! We all thought we better get the lay of the land if we are going to be bringing Little Al up here in about 18 years, to drop him off for school!

 

After the stadium, we decided we wanted to spend the weekend relaxing and being "normal" since there won't be much more time to do that. So, we took Erin and Megan miniature golfing at a really cool Putt Putt golf course. They had 3 different 18 hole courses, and all six of us played 18 holes, and Ryan, Erin, Megan, and Grandpa played another 18 holes. I think Grandpa was the big winner over all, but Ryan might try to say he was!:) After golf, the girls and Ryan played video games and won prizes, so I think they had fun.

 

When we got back to the hotel, Erin and Megan went swimming and in the hottub until the thunder rolled in. Now we are just waiting until everyone gets hungry, so that Holly can have her weekly fix of Mexican food.

 

On a more serious note, the meeting this morning with Dr. Bove was really encouraging for us. He is a very nice man, in his mid 50's. He thankfully did not sugar coat anything, just told us how it was. The plan is still somewhat up in the air since Little Al is really the one in control, but the plan is that if he is born Monday or Tuesday (let's hope!), that his surgery will then happen at the beginning of the next week. Then, if all goes according to plan, and Little Al is as stubborn and strong as his mom thinks he is, he will spend one week in the ICU, and one week in the step down unit, and then home!

 

Holly's mom and dad will be coming Monday afternoon so they will be here for the birth, and then decide if they will stay through the surgery, or go home and come back.

 

We are very overwhelmed with all the messages we have gotten in our guestbook. Hello to everyone we haven't talked to in a long time, it humbles us to know just how many good friends we have. We apologize for not responding to everyone, but please know we appreciate every word and thought.

 

Ryan, Holly, and family

 

GO WOLVERINES!!

 

Alan Andrew Dean Miller How was his name chosen, you ask?

Alan is Ryan's older brother who did a lot for and with him when he was growing up. When their father died when Ryan was 15, Alan became a second father to him. Holly also thinks Big Al is pretty cool.

 

Andrew is Holly's cousin who died a few years back at a very young age. He and Holly had a very special and close relationship, and this is her way of honoring his memory.

 

Dean is both Holly and Ryan's dad's middle name...cool, huh?

 

SO...we stewed and stewed over names for our children even before we got pregnant. We both wanted to incorporate all family names, and we think we did a darn good job doing that! We also wanted a name that sounded really tough over the loud speaker at the Southeast Polk High School baseball field. You know... "and now up to bat for Southeast Polk, Al Miller!" We thought that would sound pretty cool.

 

Well, for those of you wondering, now you know...and for those who weren't............

 

We are going to try to relax and be normal again today, so we may or may not have any more news to report later.

 

Ryan, Holly & family

 

GO WOLVERINES!

 

Saturday, July 17th, 2004...evening report

No new news to report at this time, we are still waiting for Monday to come so we can induce and get things started. We put in quite a bit of walking today in hopes of coaxing Little Al out, but no such luck....We toured the Henry Ford Museum which was quite interesting and even took in the NASCAR IMAX 3D experience, in possible hopes of getting Little Al dizzy, but nope, he just jumped around when he heard the engines roar...gonna be a Dale Jr fan!

 

Well, we really wanted to just let everyone know what was happening. We would also like to take this time to thank everyone for all the supportive emails and entries in our guestbook. We hope you all understand that we may not be able to respond to each one individually at this time, but that does not mean that we do not appreciate them, in fact we look forward to them!

 

Until tomorrow...

 

Ryan, Holly & family

 

GO BLUE!

 

Sunday, July 18th, 2004

Not a whole lot to report for today. Little Al did NOT decide to play Punxsutawney Phil and come out to see if the timing was right. Personally, I just think he is doing exactly opposite of what his mother would like him to do! (If so...imagine the next 18 years)

 

We relaxed today, doing laundry, running to the mall to pick up a little something for Little Al and the girls....

 

The football will be for all the doctors and nurses to sign for Little Al to keep and now the girls now have U of M stuff to wear when taking their little brother out on the town, they are very excited!

 

Well, even though neither of us can sleep, we need to try to get our rest. Unless plans change, we will be going in around 7:00 pm tomorrow night to induce. We have been told it can take hours or days, usually the later, before delivery, so it could be a long next couple of days.

 

I will try to post whenever I can, but do not get worried if you do not see anything for a day or two, we may be to busy or exhausted.

 

Wish us luck!

 

Ryan, Holly & family

 

GO WOLVERINES! GO BLUE!

 

Saturday, July 17th, 2004

     

 

Monday, July 19th, 2004

Well......we are in a holding pattern. The hospital called around 6:00 pm and said that the Neonatal ICU was too full at the time. They said it would be in the best interest of Little Al and all the other babies in the ICU to not introduce another one at this time. It is nice to know that they are attentive to all the details.

 

Holly, however, was not particularly enthused about the new time line, but she does understand.

 

At this time, they may be able to get us in sometime tomorrow morning, if not, we are looking at tomorrow night at 7:00 pm again, unless there is a hold up.

 

So, at this time, we do not know much else. Holly's parents arrived today and got settled in, we then had a late lunch and observed Carlton's (Holly's dad) birthday, which is today and would have been special if Little Al could have arrived today.

 

We will continue to rest and be ready to go whenever we need to.

 

Until tomorrow...

 

Ryan, Holly & family

 

Tuesday, July 20th, 2004

We are doing nothing today, but sitting around waiting for the hospital to call.

 

Actually, Nana and the girls are baking lemon bars, but other than that, not much.

 

Ryan is trying to get some work done, even at 500 miles away.

 

Holly is wishing this boy would come out, today being the due date and all.

 

Once we get the call, we will update the website to let you all know that we have went to the hospital. Now keep in mind, it could be days before any updates after that.

 

Till later.....

 

Ryan, Holly & family

 

U OF M!, U OF M!, U OF M!!!!

 

Tuesday, July 20th, 2004 evening

Hi all! Well, Michigan is becoming a hot vacation spot for us. We hung around all day today just waiting for "the call" and it came about 4:30. And...they said, again they would have to hold off inducing. Since Little Al is safer and healthier in the womb, it is the best thing for him to wait as long as possible. The waiting, however, is wearing on Holly, and emotionally she's getting a little worn out, to say the least.

 

So, Erin went swimming a second time with Nana and Papa this afternoon, and now we are going to go to supper and then miniature golfing at another park we found that sounds pretty cool. We have to do something to make life normal, or I think we will all go nuts just waiting...

 

So tomorrow...I just won't say it this time. Tune in tomorrow afternoon/evening for another update. Thanks again to everyone for their thoughts, prayers, and support. It means the world to us, especially when things are getting a little tough.

 

Love from us all... Holly, Ryan, and the family

 

Wednesday, July 21st, 2004

HA HA!!!

 

Fooled ya!

 

Sorry, I know we shouldn't do that, and we really weren't trying to fool you. We just didn't get around to updating the website until now....

 

So.....

 

NO!, we are not in the hospital at this time, there is still no room in the NICU for Little Al and he is not cooperating with mom in coming out on his own...

 

So....now a few words from mom....

 

Hi all! Thanks again for all the messages we got today. With all this waiting around, it's fun to log on to see who has emailed us or logged onto our website. We have over 1100 hits on our website total, 200 just today! Pretty cool.

 

Nana and Papa are having fun giving the girls swimming lessons every day, and grandma and grandpa are having fun teaching them tons of new card games. Ryan and I are just kind of waiting around for a phone call that seems like it will never come!

 

Now...back to dad...

 

I do apologize for not updating sooner and I'm sure many of you may have thought that the labor had started. Believe me, Holly & I would rather be there than here, so we really would not try to trick anyone.

 

So...today, we didn't do much of anything, the highlight would have been grilling out for dinner. Surprisingly, Michigan has some pretty good sweet corn and pork chops! Holly has been napping each day to get rested up and I have been 'hangin' out'.

 

So, until tomorrow, when hopefully....................

 

Thanks to all!

 

Ryan, Holly & family

 

GO BLUE!!!!!

Thursday, July 22nd, 2004

1:10 pm CST Had you asked us last Tuesday, as we were on our way up here, if we would still be waiting around 10 days later for Little Al to be born, we would have said emphatically, "NO!"

 

But here we are....10 days later and Holly is taking a nap, having yet to deliver Little Al.

 

We did talk with the hospital this morning and they believe there will be an opening later today, but there is no guarantee. So...we must wait....and wait....and wait. We are coping our best and if it were not for having the whole family here already, waiting with us, Holly & I think it would not be too bad. But trying to keep two pre-teen girls and four grandparents from boredom can be a bit trying. However, we are glad they are all here, for when the time comes, all the waiting will be forgotten!

 

The girls just finished filling out two pages each with the following phrase on each line, "I will not fight with my sister." I think you can derive the full story from just that little of info. But at least for now their swimming privileges have been restored.

 

The grandparents are relaxing in their own way, but I am sure they would rather not be waiting around either.

 

Not much else to report from Ann Arbor, so hopefully later tonight I can report that we are in the hospital!

 

Hope all is well on the homefronts! Take care everyone and thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

 

Ryan, Holly & family

 

3:30 pm CST WE ARE ON OUR WAY TO THE HOSPITAL!!!!!

 

The hospital called and they have an opening in the NICU! It is 3:30 pm central time, we will update whenever we can!!!!

 

Wish us Luck!

 

Ryan & Holly

 

10:30 pm CST Well, we are finally at the hospital, getting things started. It is about 10:30 pm central time and we are just 'hanging out'. Check in was pretty easy as we were preregistered and in an hour we were in the room and the checkups had started.

 

Holly was dilated to 3 already and 100% effaced. That means Little Al was getting ready to start on his own, so maybe the induction will progress a little more quickly, but we will have to wait & see...

 

As it looks now, Holly should be pushing sometime tomorrow, so hopefully we can let you all know sometime tomorrow just how Little Al is adapting to his new surroundings.

 

Till tomorrow...

 

Ryan, Holly & family

 

GO WOLVERINES!!

 

Saturday, July 24th, 2004

Good morning all!

 

Little Al, Holly & Ryan all got a good nights sleep, which was much needed! However, Mom & Dad are still a little groggy, but Little Al is doing GREAT! In fact, maybe a little too great, his oxygen saturation level should be in the 75 - 85% range, he has been at 95% plus!

 

Most people have 95% or better, which is normal, but Little Al will only be at 75% after his first surgery. This will not harm him as in the womb a baby is only at 50%, so a newborn is used to the lower rate. By Little Al having the normal rate already, his organs would start to get used to it, but the doctors do not want that. Also, because of the way his body works differently right now, not all of his body would be getting the oxygen rich blood.

 

So...he has been placed in a 'tent' (a plastic top added to his bed) and a small amount of nitrogen is being added to 'his environment'. This does two things, one-helps to lower his oxygen saturation rate and two-helps get his oxygenated blood to disperse more uniformly through out his body. Number two helps by making him more comfortable, before he would have had the feeling that you get when you have exercised for awhile and your muscles get fatigued from lack of oxygen. There are many details that I am not including, they can be a little overwhelming.

 

The nitrogen has also seemed to help regulate his vital signs. He is breathing is at a much more regular rate and so his is heart beat. He still has an occasional apnea episode (basically he holds his breath), but not as often as yesterday.

 

So, our little guy is doing great!

 

As of now, surgery is scheduled for next Wednesday, we believe in the afternoon. I will keep you updated on this.

 

Until later today!

 

Ryan, Holly & family

 

GO BLUE!

 

Saturday, July 24th, 2004 evening

Today was a nice day here in Ann Arbor, sunny and about 75!

 

Holly was discharged from the hospital in the afternoon and is feeling fine. Still a little tender and sitting is not much fun, but she is being a real trooper and coping.

 

Little Al is looking great and with a few more sedatives and a little more nitrogen he is resting comfortably. However, this makes him pretty much out all the time, but he does still respond to familiar voices.

 

Everyone, but Holly & Ryan, are leaving in the morning. It has been a long, almost, 2 weeks for the girls and Grandma & Grandpa Miller, so we are sure they will be happy to get home. Nana & Papa Peterson have had a long week too and plan on coming back up for the surgery, maybe Aunt Sasha will make it then also!

 

We all went out for dinner together and afterwards went to see Little Al one last time for those leaving. Then, and only at Papa's persistence, we found the nearest Baskin Robbins and just had to have ice cream!

 

Surgery is still on for Wednesday, I will keep updating till then....

 

Ryan, Holly & family...

 

Sunday, July 25th, 2004

Here are some more pictures of our darling boy! That is dad's hand reaching in the incubator. Today we hung out with Little Al for about four hours. He was pretty out of it, but did open his eyes for mommy to see for a split second. He also has a great grip, and would grab on every time we reached in to hold his hand!

 

As of now, we are not sure when exactly the surgery will be. We are hoping for Wednesday still, but will not know for sure until later. Hopefully by the end of the day tomorrow we will know for sure and can let you all know. Nana, Papa, Grandma Jo, Grandpa Ed, Erin and Megan made the trek home today. They all left this morning. That was hard on us, but now we are just relaxing together. The support our parents and kids gave to us the last couple of weeks has been priceless, and we appreciate it more than they will ever know!! I guess that is all for now. Log on Monday to get the latest! We will hopefully be able to give some more news about surgery, etc. Until then....GO BLUE!!

 

Holly, Ryan, and family  

 

Monday, July 26th, 2004

Little Al just hung out today, they have him sedated so he rests all the time. So, tonight I decided to just post a bunch of pictures we took today.

 

Tuesday, July 27th, 2004

Little Al is resting comfortably again today...of course, it could be the drugs... At this time, we are told he is the first one scheduled for surgery tomorrow, which means he will be going in sometime between 7:00 & 8:00 AM. We are planning on getting to the hospital around 5:00 AM to spend a little time with him before they take him to anesthesiology. If all goes as planned, the surgery should take from 4 to 6 hours. They are supposed to give us hourly updates. I will try to put updates out here as often as I can, I imagine with an hour between I should be able to get something here. The hard part may be finding a telephone jack to plug in to. Believe it or not, updating the site helps us to cope. I have included a few pictures from today to satisfy anyone's Little Al jones that you might have...click here for them.

 

Wednesday, July 28th, 2004

 

Click here for all the surgery day updates just as they were originally posted.  

 

Thursday, July 29th, 2004

Well, I apologize for not putting another update out till now, Holly & I were pretty tired last night and decided to relax and get some rest pretty earlier.

 

After seeing Holly's parents and sister off at around 4:00 pm, we headed back to see Little Al for awhile. He was still doing great and making good progress. Still being drugged out, he didn't have much to say, so we kissed him goodnight and let him get more rest.

 

This morning brought lots of sunshine, warm weather and great progress for Little Al!

 

As soon as we got to the hospital we could see that he was not as swollen as we expected, and....he was even opening his eyes a little bit!!!! That was a real treat for mom. Here are the details of this morning...

 

- His blood pressure is staying strong, they have even started to ween him off some of the drugs that regulate this. Since his pressure is strong, he did not have to receive any more fluids during the night, therefore no more swelling!

 

- The drainage from his chest has subsided and almost stopped completely, another good thing!

 

- They are slowly weening him off of the morphine which has been keeping him sedated so much, that explains him becoming a little alert and the occasional open eye!

 

- He is urinating a small amount, not as much as we would like, but better than nothing! They don't expect this to be a problem unless he doesn't pick up the pace in the next 24 - 36 hours. They started to administer drugs to aid him in this.

 

- His chest is still open, they do not close this until he has drained off all the fluids that were added during surgery, so the urinating has a lot to do with this. He has a bandage in place at this time.

 

- While we were there, they started to ween him from the respirator because he was starting to take some breaths on this own. Another GREAT thing!

 

I think that covers all or most of it.

 

Having described a lot, I hope you have a pretty good idea of what he looks like. If so, I have attached 2 photos of him after surgery, but I want you to view them with a warning. He has lots of tubes and bandages and his color is almost gone, but all of this was expected. So, if you are not alarmed by these things, go to the link below to see Little Al shortly after surgery. Otherwise, enjoy the pictures that were taken right before surgery.

 

Ryan, Holly & family

6545 SE 6th Ave, Pleasant Hill, IA 50327

515-229-3297

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