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Liz Stokes

A Day of Simple Awesomeness

Today we woke with much anticipation.

At 9:50a we were heading out to the courthouse for Carter to officially join our family.

But first allow me to rewind a bit.

We knew it would be questionable if Carter would even be able to attend his adoption finalization. Things were looking up until Saturday afternoon. Carter became fussy. We thought the pulse ox machine wasn’t working because he looked fine but his saturations were registering in the mid to upper 70s. Finally that morning I got it to read 80 consistently but in the back of my mind, I knew I was playing games.

I had to go shopping with mom. Christmas was coming and I had nothing. Finalization was coming and I didn’t have a dress to wear that I truly liked. I went to 7 different stores. Torrid had one option that was below the knee. However had a slit up on both sides to the mid thigh. 1. That’s not me. 2. That’s not courtroom appropriate by any means.

I went to two different Kohls stores. Guess what? NOT A SINGLE DRESS WAS FOUND! Once upon a time they had awesome selections. This time? Nothing. Not a dress in a woman’s plus size to be found in the entire store. Let me tell you– I’ve pretty much wrote them off my shopping list. Their women’s department has reverted back to the 40 and over crowd and has shrank dramatically. The seasonal clearance was shoved into my department. I’m over it.

Target was not much better. They had skirt options but only one dress that went past the knee. Same deal not appropriate for the court room. Not appropriate for a woman who is 35. However their department was more geared for the teen and 20s crowd, better but not the best.

I gave up. I went home defeated. I don’t think the world or people get it but it stung.

I walked in the door and my baby was crying. According to Rob, he’d been crying since I left. Carter wouldn’t let Rob put him down without fussing. Now to be honest, I expected this. Carter spends 24 hours a day with me and I thought Rob might be acting a little dramatic but this time was different. I could see something was up. His nail beds were blue. His lips were shaded blue. His color was “off”. I immediately sprung into action and put the pulse ox on him. Yep. Confirmation. Saturations were reading in the upper 60s and low 70s we even saw 40s. I jumped on the phone with cardiology at Dayton Children’s. The answer I got from the on call Doctor was to bring him in to the ER as a precaution. Ok. Duh. I was calling her to tell her we were on our way in.

Hang up with her.

Jumped on the phone with Cincinnati Cardiology letting them know we were headed to Dayton Children’s ER with saturations in the upper 60s and low 70s. The doctor I spoke with had Carter before and knew that what kind of parents we were. That if we were bringing Carter in this was the real deal and not an overreaction. He said to bring him in and that he would follow up with us in two hours. Little did he know that there would be no need for that follow up call.

Hopped off the phone meanwhile Rob had already started switching Carter over to portable oxygen.

I packed Carter’s bag expecting we’d be stuck in the ER overnight for observation.

Walked into the ER. Warning flags went up when we told the ER his name. It was like the game of Monopoly. Do not collect $200 we were to go straight to jail… We bypassed triage and were admitted to trauma immediately like I kid you not, seconds.

The nurse gave us a heads up that there would be many people coming in running because alarms were being turned on as we walked. I looked at Rob and he looked back and we just took him in. 20 people entered the room. 15 people were dismissed. We were a part of the team. Our information was valued. We got to hold and calm our son. There was no “freak out” in sight. Everything was calm and orchestrated. I saw no concern or fear on anyone’s face until…

The ER doctor immediately got on the phone with Cincinnati. Dayton doesn’t have a cardiology surgeon on staff so if something were wrong internally there would be nothing Dayton could do. Carter is in interstage there is always a risk that his shunt is in danger. We tried convincing the ER doctor that it wasn’t his shunt. We were educated and these weren’t the telltale signs. Now Rob and I were worried that his PA had pinched off and his right lung was deficient of air but we didn’t express those concerns with this team as we knew they didn’t know Carter and they didn’t know Heterotaxy. Again, WE were educating them.

If it were (his shunt) we would be looking at a blue baby and unable to revive him but we were looking at a baby who on 1 liter of oxygen was starting to respond with his saturations. Our CICU cardiologist told the ER doctor this and you could see the stress leave him immediately. Transportation was paged and we were loading up for a trip to the CICU.

Rob took the van home, grabbed my wallet, bag of clothes, and hopped on the road to meet us.

Carter and I took our first ambulance ride.

We were given celebrity status and escorted straight to the CICU, room 26. Our home. Let me tell you this was the MOST bittersweet moment I have EVER experienced. I was so happy to be “home” but at the same time I was so sad I was so happy. Carter had visitors from all over come to see him as they were so excited to see how much he had grown and changed over the past month and a half.


The doctors repeated multiple times how thrilled they were that we caught his symptoms so early and brought him in. Carter spent Saturday thru Tuesday evening in the CICU. Carter caught a respiratory virus. He got put on the high flow machine but only as a precaution. He was discharged with saturations in the high 80s and low 90s Wednesday afternoon. Just in time for his finalization on Friday. I was able to get three more days of “work” in before break because my AMAZING mother stayed with Carter in Cincinnati.

Rob and I decided last minute to invite our family to Carter’s finalization under the circumstances that they weren’t sick and they promised to keep their distance from Carter and not touch him even if they were healthy.  This would be the first time that many of them would be able to meet Carter.

Friday morning rolls around and honestly I felt like I was six years old and it was Christmas morning. I didn’t want anything to go wrong. I couldn’t imagine the Judge saying no and us having to hand Carter to some strangers to grow up with. He was our baby and I wasn’t going to go out without a fight. Now to be honest, I’m overreacting. I had and knew I had nothing to worry about but there was that very small chance that things wouldn’t go as planned.

We pulled out of the drive at 9:50a we had to be at the courthouse at 9:45a. Things were not looking 100%. Luckily, our lawyer got the times mixed up and he was late as well! No worries all around and we were on time. The judge opened up his courtroom due to the number of people and the inability to fit everyone into his chambers for this experience. Our family showed up. Oh how my little Grinch heart filled…

Rob and I however had to meet with the Judge in his chambers prior to going into the court room. He asked us about Carter’s medical needs and if we were prepared to take on his needs. Well is anyone ever really prepared? No.  We assured him we would do our best. The Judge knew this little boy was our boy. He saw it. He knew we would go to the end of the earth for him. We left the Judge to talk with our lawyer and went to the courtroom.

The video follows: (It shouldn’t be upside down when it plays…)


Say hello to our baby boy Carter:

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