Zayoona was born 17th of June last year.
She kicked and kicked and kicked so often that my poor wife was usually both happy and queasy at the same time. I knew by seeing her face smile and also holding her breath to control her upset stomach being relentlessly kicked and probed by little Zaina.
The Dr. while she did the pregnancy echo squinted at the screen and then turned to look at me, and then back at the screen, then back at me, then back at the screen and said:
"teshbah obooha" with matter-of-fact finality. (she looks like her father) as if she's jokingly giving disappointing news to my wife. Me and her just exchanged funny looks.
Three days after she was born, just as we were getting ready to leave the hospital room to go home, the pediatrician dr. came to the room and started telling me in a hushed voice:
"This is most probably something not to be worried about, but I suggest you get it looked at after a week or so just to be sure. Your daughter's heart has a faint but clear wooshing sound, we usually call it a Murmur"
It was still too little information for me to process and I didn't know what to make of what he was telling me so I ask him what does that mean.
"This is very common, don't worry about it too much, most likely its the result of a hole in her heart".
When I heard that I thought (how can there be a hole in my baby's heart and she's still breathing??)
"I can't tell how big of a hole it is until you get a chest echo done to your baby. So I suggest you have one within the week at al-Sabah." (I thought to myself, typical, when the going gets tough, private hospitals get cold feet everytime. Alla y3afe il7okooma)
He then explained to me how its common for babies to have tiny holes in the wall that separates the left and right ventricles. VSD they call them, Ventricular Septic Defects. And most babies with these holes don't require any treatment because the hole just gets smaller with time and closes up on its own as the baby grows up. And I start hearing from friends and family how THEY had holes in THEIR hearts when they were small and how it wasn't a big deal at all.
I get relieved somewhat and try to comfort my wife with the statistics and that the odds are unlikely that any treatment will be needed at all.
We go to the chest sonar appointment and even though the place is brand new and clean, but its still a bit crowded and seeing so many other families carrying small babies just like little Zayoona I get a sense of how this issue is larger than just my little family.
The sonar dr is so swamped with cases that to smooth the process they tell us they'll have to put a mild sedative in her milk so she sleeps while the sonar is on her chest. We were apprehensive about giving her a sedative being such a small baby, but I manage to convince my wife that it'll be fine, and it tastes bitter so Zaina started crying when we gave it to her, the whole thing just fried our nerves even more, being already fried from the fear of what the sonar might show.
She finally sleeps a bit but they didn't call us to the sonar room until the sedative started to slowly wear off anyway.. so as we finally are in the room and the dr. is trying to do his sonar, Zaina started to wake up and cry, and he couldn't do his job properly, and I just had to sit near her holding her tiny tiny arms away from her chest and shush her to calm down and sleep as the dr. did his work. He was a little amateurish and took longer than needed and it was getting harder to keep Zaina still and peaceful, and my wife's shot nerves were getting more and more stressed, so when the dr. said any remarks about the baby not being still enough we both snapped at him to just do what he can because we're not giving her any more sedative and waiting for another 30 minutes outside for her to sleep, which she won't because she's already cried too much and too upset.
Anyhow, il7emdella we were done and went and occupied an empty room without permission to feed poor Zayoon and calm her down. But we were too anxious and stressed waiting for the dr. to tell us what the sonar showed.
When he finally came around to talking to us he told us that it was a "Large" hole, and that its location near the aortic valve raised the pressure going towards the lungs, which caused her to breath shallow and fast. This fast breathing later proved to burn alot of her calories and caused her to become a very small and light baby. We tried to offset this by using a high-calorie special type of milk given by the government pharmacy called "Infatrini" which over the next 3 months did help keep her weight up, but still she was thinner than the thinnest 5% of babies.
We were told that after 4 months it would be clear whether an "operation" would be needed.
Hearing the word operation even as a remote possibility hit me like heavy brick in my chest. What kind of operation could be done to an infant's 3 month old tiny heart??
(...to be continued inshalla)