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Heart Warrior Stories Sharese and Eryka E.

Little Miss Eryka was diagnosed with CHD complications at only 17 weeks gestation. To say my husband and I were devastated was an understatement. Eryka was the blessed product of 3 years of trying to conceive unsuccessfully. So after heart-wrenching visits to 2 different Reproductive specialists, finding the PERFECT Doctors, and going through multiple rounds of IUI, daily injections, hormone therapy, surgery, and ultimately IVF —we thought the hardest part of our baby journey was through. But they say if you want to see God smile, tell Him your plans!
Eryka was initially diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and also had a large hole in her heart called a VSD. We cried, we questioned God and we prayed. At our next appointment, we were presented with “all of our options”. While discussing these “options” which included termination, the Doctors went over possible surgical strategies, the likelihood of pacemakers, and the baby needing a heart transplant to see age 4 —it was overwhelming! Regardless of all things, in our heart of hearts, we knew we had not come this far to give up so the only “option” for our family was to hold on to our faith and continue on with the pregnancy despite growing concerns, questions, and fears.

As we all know, pregnancy is already hard for so many reasons; body changes, family dynamics —especially if you already have children, and for us with this pending diagnosis……….but the year 2020 was here and so was Covid19. Not knowing what type of care we’d receive in the middle of a pandemic; if my husband would even be allowed in the delivery room; if being in the hospital and going to all these Cardiac and specialist appointments was safe —were all fears we faced daily for the last 6 months of the pregnancy.

I was induced on August 4, 2020, at 39 weeks gestation so our Doctors and Pediatric Cardiac team could be fully prepared for any and all possible outcomes during delivery. They were truly angels here on Earth. After more than 30+hours of labor and dodging a C-section Little Miss E as we affectionately call her —was finally here, and in the blink of an eye, she was BORN and GONE ….off to the NICU.

Eryka Alisha Gianna, born at 6:04a weighed in at 8lbs 10oz and was 20.5 inches long with a head full of beautiful curly hair. Against all projected odds, Little Miss Eryka was born and was NOT low birth weight, she was COMPLETELY alert and most important was not blue!! The concern that her blood would not get enough oxygen to her body was put on PAUSE until after her very first echocardiogram was complete. We prayed and waited as I cried about only holding my newborn baby girl for what felt like less than 30 seconds before she was taken from the room. Many hours and tests later, we were blessed beyond measure to find out that Eryka’s diagnoses of HLHS and VSD were changed to a diagnosis of an Interrupted Aortic Arch and VSD. The shift from HLHS to IAA was a pivotal moment for our family. Understanding that although Eryka’s CHD fight was just beginning, she was given the gift of stronger odds of living a full, normal life knowing that she would no longer need a heart transplant to survive.

On August 11, 2020 baby Eryka underwent open-heart surgery at only 5 days old. Although the surgery was a huge success and both heart defects were repaired Eryka had a difficult time coming off of the ventilator. Whereas most babies were off the ventilator in hours/days and don’t require breathing support, Eryka had to be put on a high-flow nasal cannula to increase her oxygen intake. A minor complication arose post-op when Doctors noticed Eryka’s diaphragm was paralyzed on one side causing respiratory issues. Ultimately an NG tube was placed in Eryka’s nose so she could safely eat and gain weight.

For over 40+ days; the first month of her life precious life Eryka and I lived in Levine Children’s hospital. It is there where she was gifted her very first bestie, a CHD Awareness Wubbanub that we affectionately named “Bear Bear”. Soft and comforting, adorning the same zipper scar “Bear Bear” was in her arms and by Eryka’s side for every doctor appointment, surgery, waking, or sleeping minute or milestone. Wubbanub’s CHD Bear comforted our sweet baby girl her entire journey covered in wires and leads when all her parents could do was place their hands on her tiny recovering body.

We were all instantly hooked after the first picture and Wubbanub fans for life!! Eryka is currently 5 months old and she and Bear bear are both thriving and doing well. We’ve been blessed beyond measure in our Cardiac journey and will never stop sharing and celebrating small victories as her story continues. We now gift the babies in our life their very first best friend, a Wub to Luv. We love supporting a company and a product that has such obvious love, compassion, and commitment to the families they serve. Thank you WubbaNub.

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