A birthday, a baptism and a big road ahead

Adrienne and I are proud to introduce you to our daughter, Autumn Maria Walsh.

Adrienne kisses Autumn on the head some time around 11 p.m. Oct. 24, 2017, when the doctors delivered the baby to the pediatric intensive care unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md.

Autumn was born at 10:44 a.m. Tuesday Oct. 24, 2017, at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md. She arrived via c-section weighing 7 pounds 13 ounces.

Autumn Maria Walsh, born 10:44 a.m. Oct. 24, 2017. Look at those lashes!

As of this posting, she is doing well. Last night, she was in a much more precarious place. We are ready to continue this journey with her.

In her first two days of life, Autumn has seen the inside of an operating room for the c-section and the inside of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for two different breathing machines. She is currently residing in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), receiving round-the-clock care on stronger equipment. She is, by all accounts, the cutest baby.

Dad and daughter!

We are nervous, cautiously optimistic, but very encouraged by Autumn’s treatment options.

Adrienne, who is still in-patient on a different wing of the hospital, is recovering from her procedures. She has been an amazing Wolf Mom who has been by Autumn’s side and participating in conversations with doctors about baby’s care even as she herself heals. I don’t have the words for it other than to say it is singularly astounding.

Adrienne had the medical team wheel her bed into the NICU to see Autumn for the first time Oct. 24, 2017.

We also have enjoyed many tender and joyful moments in the last 48 hours, not least of which was a very beautiful baptism Wednesday from the floor of the PICU. Grandma and Grandpa Minjarez were able to be a part of it, and the nurses made it incredibly precious by supplying a baptismal gown and a pretty little pink blanket for the ceremony.

Father Jordan, the Johns Hopkins Hospital Catholic chaplain, baptizes Autumn on Oct. 25, 2017. In his left hand you can see the saline syringe he used for the holy water, and a tiny little shell that one of the nurses scrounged up from God knows where. The nurses also gave Autumn a baptismal dress made by volunteers. Grandma Becky (aka GB) documents the occasion.

On the health front, the primary issue Autumn is dealing with at the moment is pulmonary hypertension, a condition that causes blood leaving the right side of the heart to meet increased resistance. While we had always hoped this would not be something Autumn had to deal with, we did know it is a common starting point for a child born with CDH.

In pulmonary hypertension, as Cincinnati Children’s explains, the blood vessels of the lungs have an increased amount of muscle in the walls. This causes a higher resistance in the lungs. The right ventricle then has to work harder to pump blood out to the lungs. The right ventricle will enlarge and thicken in response to this extra work. Untreated, the extra work placed on the right side of the heart can cause it to fail.

Before doctors can begin the repair surgery to give her lungs the room they need to grow, they have to address the hypertension and get her vital signs stabilized.

There are three tools doctors use to do this, each associated with increasing levels of severity, and we are currently on Option №3. It’s called ECMO.

ECMO stands for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. It is a treatment that uses a pump to circulate blood through an artificial lung back into the bloodstream of a very ill baby, as MedLine Plus explains. This system provides heart-lung bypass support outside of the baby’s body. It is sometimes used to help support a child who is awaiting a heart or lung transplant.

This video about ECMO from Children’s Minnesota Minneapolis Hospital explores a lot of the circumstances that Adrienne and I have faced in the last few hours. Different couple, but similar story.

Today has been a good day, and Autumn’s numbers are looking encouraging. The doctors have advised us to celebrate this good day and to be prepared for the ones that are more challenging. When they put her on the machines around 4 a.m. Tuesday, we were looking at updates in windows of 15 minutes. Today we are looking at increments of hours and days. We do not know what tomorrow will bring, but we are committed to achieving the best possible outcome for Autumn.

Thank you for the prayers and support and texts and Slack messages and calls and everything in between. It really has helped us and it continues to help us. We will update major milestones as we are able. We’ve also decided to post most photos of Autumn on a private Instagram account. Let Adrienne know if you would like that information.

The Walsh Family of Washington, D.C.