Heart to Heart with Anna

Working in the NICU When You're a Heart Mom

August 24, 2020 Meagan Sheakoski Season 15 Episode 282
Heart to Heart with Anna
Working in the NICU When You're a Heart Mom
Chapters
Heart to Heart with Anna
Working in the NICU When You're a Heart Mom
Aug 24, 2020 Season 15 Episode 282
Meagan Sheakoski

What is it like to be a physician assistant working in the NICU and then having your firstborn son admitted to the same NICU? Meagan Sheakoski talks to Anna about her experience with Anna after giving birth to a son who had an unknown birth defect. It wasn't until after her son was born that a problem presented itself. Meagan shares what it was like to go from being the expert in the NICU to being the mother of a premature son wondering what was going to happen next.

In this episode of "Heart to Heart with Anna," Meagan Sheakoski, P.A., and Anna Jaworski talk about Meagan's life choices -- her decision to become a physician assistant, her pregnancy with her son, and her decision to use her experience as a Heart Mom to help other families in the NICU. You won't want to miss this heartwarming interview with 2 Heart Moms.

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Show Notes Transcript

What is it like to be a physician assistant working in the NICU and then having your firstborn son admitted to the same NICU? Meagan Sheakoski talks to Anna about her experience with Anna after giving birth to a son who had an unknown birth defect. It wasn't until after her son was born that a problem presented itself. Meagan shares what it was like to go from being the expert in the NICU to being the mother of a premature son wondering what was going to happen next.

In this episode of "Heart to Heart with Anna," Meagan Sheakoski, P.A., and Anna Jaworski talk about Meagan's life choices -- her decision to become a physician assistant, her pregnancy with her son, and her decision to use her experience as a Heart Mom to help other families in the NICU. You won't want to miss this heartwarming interview with 2 Heart Moms.

Links to our Social Media and Podcast Pages:

Apple Podcasts

Facebook 

YouTube 

Instagram

If you enjoy this program and would like to be a Patron, please check out our Patreon page  

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/HearttoHeart)

Meagan Sheakoski :

That time I knew he had come in because something serious was wrong, and he had bad news to give us.

Anna Jaworski :

Welcome to "Heart to Heart with Anna." I am Anna Jaworski and your host. We are in our 15th season and we're so happy you're here with us today. I'm very excited about today's show to feature a special Heart Mom. Today's show is entitled 'Working in The NICU When You're a Heart Mom." Meagan Sheakoski is a neonatal intensive care unit or NICU physician assistant in a level four nursery that takes care of cardiac babies. She had no complications during her pregnancy; however, at birth, her son Rowan developed respiratory complications and became a patient at the same NICU where she worked. Rowan was diagnosed with dextro-transposition of the great arteries or d-TGA and is almost a year old. Welcome to "Heart to Heart with Anna," Meagan Sheakoski.

Meagan Sheakoski :

Hi, Anna, thanks for having me.

Anna Jaworski :

Well, I'm happy to have you here, Meagan. Let's start by having you tell us about your job in the neonatal intensive care unit or NICU. Can you tell me how long you've been working in the NICU and just give us a little idea of what it is that you do there.

Meagan Sheakoski :

So overall, I've been working about three years now in the NICU and there's a wide variety of kind of things that we do. Overall, we take care of babies anywhere from like 20 to 23 weeks gestation, up through term for all kinds of complications ranging from just like prematurity, low blood sugars, cardiac stuff, respiratory distress, really, anything you could think of that a newborn baby could have. They come to us for treatment.

Anna Jaworski :

Okay. Wow. It's hard to believe that a baby at 20 something weeks gestation can survive outside its mother.

Meagan Sheakoski :

Yes, and as times are advancing and medicine is advancing, the gestations that are surviving are getting even lower and lower. So it's a wild and changing time in our field of medicine right now.

Anna Jaworski :

Absolutely. Why is it you became a physician assistant.

Meagan Sheakoski :

I had always had an interest in medicine in general and thought I wanted to go to med school in like high school and had started exploring shadowing with different professions and realized that I could practice medicine, but also have more of a work-life balance that I wanted, going the PA route versus going to medical school and becoming a physician. So I thought overall, the timing of school, the length of school, the schedule, and all that sort of thing fit a little bit better with the lifestyle I envisioned myself having in the future.

Anna Jaworski :

My husband did the exact same thing. My husband was a paramedic, and he knew he wanted to become a nurse, but he considered also becoming a doctor. But since he Got a late start, and the cost of medical school and how many years it was going to take, he decided he could have more autonomy becoming an advanced practice nurse, instead of becoming a physician and spend a lot less money and like you said, have more quality of life with his family, it's really tough to be a physician.

Meagan Sheakoski :

It is. And it's a lot of stress; it's a ton of responsibility. And really the amount of autonomy that I have within my job and other PAs have in any field -- I just really don't think I would have wanted to go any other route. And it's nice that we're trained generally, so I can go work in any field that I would like. So if for whatever reason, NICU doesn't work out for me, I can say, "Oh, I'd like to do emergency medicine" or "I'd like to do something else" and can just up and switch which is much less flexible with even the APRNs and physicians.

Anna Jaworski :

What's APRN?

Meagan Sheakoski :

I'm sorry -- the advanced practicing registered nurse so nurse practitioner that whole realm.

Anna Jaworski :

Okay, so how is a PA different than an advanced practice nurse practitioner,

Meagan Sheakoski :

Really the medical model versus the nursing model that they are "raised on." So all nurse practitioners are trained as nurses. So they go to nursing school, they work as nurses usually for a pretty long period of time. Some do it on the shorter end before they go to nurse practitioner school, but a lot of times they work for a long time as a bedside nurse before they then go on to further their education to diagnose and treat patients whereas there's healthcare experience that's needed to go on to become a PA, but everyone has a little bit of a different background. So you may be like I was a patient care aide in a nursing home providing care and I did that for a span of time before going to PA school. Some people are paramedics, some people are nurses, and they decide to go on and think that the PA profession gives them a broader spectrum of job opportunities and flexibility later on, so they may choose that versus nurse practitioner. But the main difference is the background and that each has with nurse practitioners requiring that you'd be a nurse prior and PA requiring you have healthcare experience in general prior.

Anna Jaworski :

See, I never knew that before. You just taught me something! That's really interesting. Because my husband is a nurse and so a lot of our friends are nurses, and he's had a number of friends who have become advanced nurse practitioners and who have become physician assistants. So I never did know what the difference was because they all started out in nursing with my husband but just went off in different directions.

Meagan Sheakoski :

Yeah.

Anna Jaworski :

Well, what led you to desire to work in the NICU? That's a high-stress area to work in.

Meagan Sheakoski :

It is, yes. I myself was a preemie. So I was a 34 weeker who was in the ICU for a short period of time. I was only in for about nine days, but my mom talked about it a lot as I was growing up, and we were involved in like March of Dimes when I was a Girl Scout and that sort of thing like supporting research and premature babies and supporting mothers and that sort of thing. I got interested in that way. And then when I went on to college, I majored in biology but took a course in embryology that I really, really loved. And then I actually was a teaching assistant for that course, and took a really strong interest in just the developing human. And the things that can happen that change the way that the body forms in utero, that can lead to certain issues and really thought that working with babies who may have had issues in their development, I could use that knowledge to apply it to the future into something I was very interested in overall. So when I was in PA school, I set up a NICU rotation with my clinical coordinators; we hadn't had one setup. And actually one of my professors worked in the NICU. So it was easy to have some context to get something set up in general and did my rotation. It was only a short six weeks, but I saw a ton, I learned a ton and knew that that's really what I wanted to go into.

Anna Jaworski :

Wow. So you were already primed, from the time you were a little girl, it sounds like,

Meagan Sheakoski :

Yeah, just little exposures here and there that got me interested in it as I was growing up.

Anna Jaworski :

I don't know a whole lot about embryology. But what I have been learning, I think, is fascinating. And I especially am fascinated with how the heart is formed in utero, because it starts as a tube. Who would have expected it to start as a tube?

Meagan Sheakoski :

Yes. And it's very complicated and any little diversion of the correct movements and tracks of things and you can get a defect and it's happened so early too, which is crazy to me.

Anna Jaworski :

It is. It is but what's exciting to me is that we're having a much better understanding today. And so we're able to save children who just a couple of decades ago would have been lost.

Meagan Sheakoski :

Yep. Yep. My son included.

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Disclaimer :

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The opinions expressed in the podcast are not those of Hearts Unite the Globe, but of the Hosts and Guests and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to congenital heart disease or bereavement.

Rejoiner :

You are listening to Heart to Heart with Anna. If you have a question or comment that you would like addressed on our show, please send an email to Anna Jaworski at [email protected] That's [email protected] Now back to Heart to Heart with Anna.

Anna Jaworski :

Meagan, before the break, we learned a little bit about your job but now I'd like to talk about when you became pregnant. I'm sure working in the NICU made you acutely aware of the things that can go wrong during pregnancy and delivery. Can you tell us about your pregnancy?

Meagan Sheakoski :

Yes, we became pregnant in January of 2019 and were very excited. I think for myself, it was hard to get as excited early on just because I know medically the things that can happen. So it was a little bit nerve racking early and making sure we were making it to those milestone markers where miscarriage was less likely and that sort of thing. So that definitely weighed on my mind.

Anna Jaworski :

Sure.

Meagan Sheakoski :

My whole pregnancy I didn't really feel very well. Probably 'til about 28 weeks I was either nauseous or dizzy or extremely tired and I was working 24-hour shifts and night shifts. It was just a lot of... it was a lot and

Anna Jaworski :

Yeah...

Meagan Sheakoski :

... (I) definitely was feeling the exhaustion throughout. And actually about 22 weeks I was down visiting a friend and started having some contractions and went in and was admitted overnight, and that's kind of when - I had preterm contractions that started from really that time through the very end of my pregnancy, which I only made it to 36 weeks. But having all these contractions, knowing the risks associated with delivering a baby preterm - that was something else that I thought about constantly and definitely spiked up my anxiety during that period of time knowing that I was worried about potentially delivering an extremely preterm baby.

Anna Jaworski :

Right, right. 22 weeks. Oh, my goodness, that must have really been scary.

Meagan Sheakoski :

Yes, it was.

Anna Jaworski :

Tell me about the delivery. So you made it to 36 weeks you said?

Meagan Sheakoski :

I did. Yeah.

Anna Jaworski :

So the lungs and the heart were hopefully mostly formed.

Meagan Sheakoski :

Yes, so by that time I was exactly 36 weeks on the dot and I had worked the day prior and I was home. It was a Wednesday it was... I was cleaning the house, I was felt like I was nesting lots during the day, I did a ton of work. I was cleaning my car and just cleaning the house in general, while my husband was at work, and I got on actually to do a fellows lecture. We have them every Wednesday and I was zooming in to take part in that and I sat down. I hadn't sat all day and I sat down to do this lecture and my water broke. And I was home. I was home here by myself. So I called my husband right away and he was at the gym, and he dropped what he was doing, came home to get me, and we headed into the hospital. Really my labor - It was quick; it was fairly easy. So that was at like 4:30 in the afternoon and I had delivered by 12:30 that night. So everything went smoothly. progressed fairly quickly and we had a baby at 12:26 in the morning.

Anna Jaworski :

Oh, now was it a vaginal delivery?

Meagan Sheakoski :

It was a vaginal delivery. Yes.

Anna Jaworski :

Well, that's good. So everything seemed to be going okay. A little bit early, but not early enough for you to worry too much.

Meagan Sheakoski :

Yeah, I know. Little boys historically do worse than little girls when they're born a little bit early as far as lung maturity and eating and all those things. So I told my husband flat out I was like, "He's a 36-week, little boy. He might have some respiratory distress. He might go to the NICU, like I wouldn't be surprised if he went down to the NICU." My husband just kind of went along with that. He's not medical. He's an accountant. So he's just like, "Alright, I trust whatever you're saying. It's just whatever he needs. Like, we'll do whatever he needs."

Anna Jaworski :

The PA in you came out?

Meagan Sheakoski :

Yes. Especially when it's my line of work. I was prepping us for what could potentially be... be like a routine, premature, a late-preterm baby being born.

Anna Jaworski :

So what was the most difficult thing that you and your husband faced after you gave birth to Rowan?

Meagan Sheakoski :

About a minute after he was born, we had cut the cord. And he cried somewhat, he was on my chest and the NICU got called to the delivery. So one of my coworkers was there. And he was crying. He seemed to be doing well. So the NICU team was like, "Okay, hey, we're gonna step out. You guys do your thing. We'll let you bond. We'll be here if you need anything later on." Just kind of as they were stepping out, I noticed that he - he had stopped breathing. And, again, something... something that's fairly routine. Like I was not worried in the least. I knew it happens all the time. I highly trusted the person that was there with us. And just had her take a look at him. And she took him over to the little radiant warmer in the room and was working on him a little bit and had told me that she didn't like his color. So he was still pretty blue. So she took him down the hall to where our resuscitation room is upstairs. My husband looked very concerned. But I so was like, "All right, he's a 36-week little boy, this is routine. This is fine. It's probably his lungs. Like it's rare that it's his heart. It's fine. It's not even - like his heart wasn't even on my radar really. A couple minutes later, my coworker had come back and said, "Okay, he has a breathing tube in and his saturations are kind of low. But we're going to get him right down to the NICU put in some IV lines and get him what he needs. And we'll update you afterwards." And she asked me if anything cardiac had been flagged during my prenatal ultrasounds and things and it had not. I said, "No," and I still figured it was a respiratory issue.

Anna Jaworski :

Is it normal for them to have to be intubated when they go to the Nick you

Meagan Sheakoski :

know, not necessarily it does happen sometimes. And again, like respiratory complications are much more common than cardiac complications. So I figured that was his issue. He had something respiratory going on that he needed this breathing tube, and he needed some extra oxygen given to him. But whatever was going on would resolve itself in the coming hours or days. Thinking back, he had no other reason to be that way being a 36 weaker and there were no other factors, from my standpoint, from a maternal standpoint, that really he would have needed those things. But I think in the moment and the like euphoria and the yeah rush of giving birth, I wasn't thinking about any of that.

Anna Jaworski :

Well know your mom, you weren't really supposed to be a PA at that moment. You're supposed to be a new mom. And so yeah, of course you have this rush of adrenaline. You're so excited and elated that that baby is finally out of you and you can hold him and see his little face for the first time. So how many ultrasounds Did you have

Meagan Sheakoski :

really just routine like nothing outside of what would be for routine pregnancy. I had a few early on. And then we had our anatomy scan at 19 weeks. And then we had one other girl scan at like 28 weeks. And then from there, I was followed more closely in the clinic, but I didn't necessarily have ultrasounds at all those appointments. It was just a routine.

Anna Jaworski :

Okay. Okay. When did you finally get the diagnosis?

Meagan Sheakoski :

He was probably at two hours old or so. And we hadn't heard anything, hadn't heard anything. So my husband's getting very worried. I could tell he was anxious. And I was like, "Okay, he went to the NICU, he needs some lines, we got to call X-ray, it takes some time for them to come over." There's no rush on these things typically. And it takes a while and it takes us a while to update parents a lot of the time. So this timeframe was not out of the ordinary for me. At all. My husband just kept asking, "Oh, when are they coming up? Are they going to be up here soon? Will someone give us an update?" I really have full trust in my team. So I think that was part of it, too. But then a couple hours after he had been born, the attending physician (who, at the time, they were not in-house, they were at home and were called in for call if needed) walked into the room and with the PA that had come to my delivery, and at that time, I knew he had come in because something serious was wrong. And he had bad news to give us.

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Anna Jaworski :

So Meagan left me on the edge of my seat. I know before the break that she gave birth to this baby who was just a couple weeks early, and then the doctor came in with bad news. So take it from there. Meagan, what happened next?

Meagan Sheakoski :

The team that has come up, just let us know that they looked at his lungs and everything from that standpoint had looked okay. And so they had the cardiology team come in and do an echo and that Rowan was found to have transposition of the great arteries with an intact ventricular septum. So that's really when they broke the news to us about what was going on and what his defect was.

Anna Jaworski :

So did they immediately give him prostaglandin E1?

Meagan Sheakoski :

They did. Yep. And they specifically mentioned when they gave him prostaglandin that his saturations had come up a little bit, but they were still low. So they were waiting for the cardiology team to come in and do his balloon atrial septostomy to help him out.

Anna Jaworski :

Right. So did he have that within hours of diagnosis then?

Meagan Sheakoski :

He did. And thinking back I don't know exactly when but it was within the first 3-5 hours of life. He had that done.

Anna Jaworski :

Wow. Was it kind of surreal for you?

Meagan Sheakoski :

It was like it felt like an out-of-body experience. I remember verbalizing to them that I didn't know what to say.

Anna Jaworski :

Yeah...

Meagan Sheakoski :

I had no idea what I was supposed to say or what needed to be said at that moment. So (I) just kind of took everything in and sat there. It felt very out of body.

Anna Jaworski :

Yeah. I mean, you were used to being the one, I'm sure, who had to deliver that news or who had to be with the parents when they were receiving that kind of news. And I bet you never expected to be on the receiving end yourself.

Meagan Sheakoski :

No, I didn't at all.

Anna Jaworski :

Wow. Just listening to you talk and how you were a preemie, and how your mother's stories about your beginning influenced your decision to go into the field you did... it almost makes me wonder if all of this was meant to be so that when you did have Rowan you would be better equipped to deal with having a baby that had special problems.

Meagan Sheakoski :

Yes. And it's funny that you mentioned that because we just had moved to Connecticut in 2018. I hadn't even worked here for a whole year yet. The year prior, in the summertime, I had had an interest in volunteering at a outdoor camp. And it turns out it was a camp for kids with congenital heart defects. So I had volunteered at that camp the year prior and worked with a lot of these kids and saw how they were thriving and participating in these activities and coming together as a group of kids with a similar background and similar struggles throughout their lives and having fun and actually reached out to one of the nurses practitioners I had gone and volunteered with and was like, "Hey, this is weird because it's not the field I worked in. It was me purely volunteering and I think it was like a little sneak peek into what my future in the next year had coming up for me."

Anna Jaworski :

Wow, that's amazing. It almost makes me feel like you had a guardian angel guiding you Meagan. Wow, that is really quite an amazing story. Now tell me - you were trained as a physician assistant you worked in the NICU - now your baby's in the NICU. From a Heart Mama's perspective. What do all of us Heart Moms need to know if we're going to be in the NICU with our little ones?

Meagan Sheakoski :

I think one of the main things I saw being on the mom's side of things is that these teams have a passion for this and they are truly there to do what's best for your baby. And you can trust them to take care of your kid - to be there when you can't be there all the time. I think that's something I found really reassuring. I feel like I knew it before but to live it and see it was very reassuring.

Anna Jaworski :

Yeah, I can't agree with you more. I am so impressed with the caliber of people who seem to be drawn to the NICU and to the PICU (or PICU). They are people who are really, really passionate about working with sick children or sick babies. As a mom whose son was in the PICU, it was hard for me to leave. It was really, really hard for me to leave. And my kid was born twenty-six years ago. So they didn't want parents there around the clock, and I really wish I would have known what you already knew, which is that that team is amazing and they're going to do okay, and it's okay for you to go get some rest because I'm sure you must have been exhausted.

Meagan Sheakoski :

Yeah, we were very exhausted. I don't think I slept for two days after he was born just because one it's hard to be in the hospital because you don't... because you're interrupted and you're unable to sleep and it's noisy and there was extra stress added on for us So...

Anna Jaworski :

Sure

Meagan Sheakoski :

... when we finally got discharged, a couple days later, they were very understanding and kind of were like, "Go home. Sleep in your own bed. Get a good night's sleep. We're here to take care of him; we'll call you if anything changes." And we don't live too far from the hospital, which was good too. But if something happens, any distance is far away so knowing that my coworkers who I knew and trusted where they are taking care of him, and that should be the same for anyone knowing that these people will take care of your baby, was why I got sleep. The night that I went home.

Anna Jaworski :

So you did it room in?

Meagan Sheakoski :

I didn't room in so our NICU is a little different. It's set up in pods. There are family rooms where you can stay. But I felt as though I needed to go home and actually get some sleep. So...

Anna Jaworski :

Yeah

Meagan Sheakoski :

My husband and I did that when we were discharged and then when Rowan was in the PICU they have family rooms there and we stayed right down the hall pretty much the whole time. I think I went home one night because I thought I was getting sick and I really evaluated why I wasn't feeling well, and I hadn't slept well for a week, so came home...

Anna Jaworski :

Oh. Wow.

Meagan Sheakoski :

...got some good rest and felt much better. But...

Anna Jaworski :

Sure

Meagan Sheakoski :

... other than that we were at the hospital.

Anna Jaworski :

Wow. So what was your experience like in the NICU as a Heart Mom?

Meagan Sheakoski :

It was good. I feel like I have a little bit of a swayed perception and swayed situation in the way I experienced it because the whole time I was there, I felt at home, which was good because I know how to get into the unit, I know where the unit is. I know what the unit looks like, I know where all the bed spaces are. I know who's working. I know what the board tells me like, who has what nurse and I feel at home there because I work there - that is my second home. So I didn't feel out of place, which I think was helpful. I felt very comfortable. It wasn't a new environment. It was someplace that I recognized and I recognized all the people and everyone came to say hi and to meet him and say hi to us and wish us The best and say hi to my husband. And I think it helped him, too. Everyone was so friendly and they treated us like family while we were there.

Anna Jaworski :

Yeah. Now, what about your husband? You said your husband was an accountant. What was the NICU experience like for him? Do you think it gave him a much better appreciation of what you do every day?

Meagan Sheakoski :

Yeah, I think he knows what I do, but didn't really know what I did at work. So he saw exactly how the team functioned and like, what the day looks like and what the babies kind of look like, just based off of how my son looked and everything he had going on. And like I said, I think having my NICU family surrounding us made him much more comfortable and not as scared in the environment because that's loud and it's noisy, and...

Anna Jaworski :

Oh, yeah...

Meagan Sheakoski :

... my parents had come to visit thankfully, this was before all the Coronavirus restrictions, which I can't even imagine what people are going through with all that.

Anna Jaworski :

Oh, I know. Right?

Meagan Sheakoski :

So terrible.

Anna Jaworski :

It is terrible.

Meagan Sheakoski :

My parents and his parents had come in to visit and both of them they're like, "Okay, there's a lot of noise." And you could tell they were anxious and listening. And they're like, "Oh! The beeping!" And like everybody's beeping. And...

Anna Jaworski :

Yeah

Meagan Sheakoski :

... it's a lot. So I think I felt more comfortable there. I made him feel more comfortable just like being in more of a homey environment than anything else.

Anna Jaworski :

Mm hmm. Do you think it would have been a very different experience for you had you delivered at a hospital other than the one that you worked at?

Meagan Sheakoski :

Yes. There's a lot of little outlying hospitals around here that are great. But knowing what I've seen in my career, I did not want to deliver outside of a big level 4, a level three if that's what was around, but here level 4 where all the care and all the team is right there if you need them. There was no way I was delivering anywhere else. That was always my plan. Just because I was scared even if pregnancy had been uncomplicated. You don't expect any issues. Sometimes things happen during delivery that I see too many of and it scared me so I wanted to be where we could get the help that we needed. And thankfully, we were where we were, I think it was a perfect time and place. The cardiology team actually mentioned to us that even though we didn't know about Rowan's heart, the timeline of events and the way things happened and the interventions that occurred happened no differently than if we would have known about it, and he was delivered in the middle of the night.

Anna Jaworski :

Well, that's reassuring, isn't it?

Meagan Sheakoski :

Yes.

Anna Jaworski :

Wow.

Meagan Sheakoski :

It's very reassuring.

Anna Jaworski :

Well, let's talk about your future and Rowan's future. Do you think you will continue to work in the NICU and tell us how Rowan's doing now?

Meagan Sheakoski :

Yeah, so I definitely think I'll continue to work in the NICU. I love the environment. Very early on, not that I didn't want to come back to work, but I thought it was going to be a difficult adjustment. Because what happened was scary. And there's a lot of little triggers that happened early on and coming back to work and seeing certain places - I take care of kids that are in his bed space

Anna Jaworski :

Hmm.

Meagan Sheakoski :

And that's always a mental note for me. And as time has gone on, it's gotten better and better. So it's gotten much easier but I think I definitely will continue to work in the NICU. It's given me a better parent perspective. And I try and go in and better support parents, too. And not just giving medical information but making sure they're okay, making sure they understand everything, and that they're getting through this and let them know the resources that are available to them and just touching base with them more. Even for kids who are term who may just come downstairs - our labor and delivery's up one floor, but they're separated from their mom. And that was one of the hardest things for me - that he wasn't with me in my room when I was in-patient. And

Anna Jaworski :

Yeah...

Meagan Sheakoski :

I understand how hard it is to go home without a baby. That really has always been hard for me but then to live it. It was a whole other thing, but I feel like I can connect with parents better on that level now.

Anna Jaworski :

Absolutely,

Meagan Sheakoski :

Rowan's doing well. He turns one next month. We have a little bit of a varied cardiology follow-up appointment scheduled with Coronavirus, but we actually are going to go next week for his follow-up appointment and echo. But right now he's nice and active. He crawls all over the house. He's getting ready to walk. He's into everything. He loves to eat everything. And he's doing well.

Anna Jaworski :

You said he had his balloon septostomy. Has he had the switch operation?

Meagan Sheakoski :

He did. So he had his arterial switch at four days old.

Anna Jaworski :

Oh, wow.

Meagan Sheakoski :

Then we stayed in the hospital... overall 18 days? So I guess two - exactly two more weeks after his switch, he went home.

Anna Jaworski :

Okay.

Meagan Sheakoski :

And he's being followed for a couple things. So he's got a leaky pulmonary valve that in the future may need replaced, but they're just following that closely. And we're hoping by the time he needs it, maybe there's been advances in treatment that he may not have to have open-heart again.

Anna Jaworski :

Yeah

Meagan Sheakoski :

But we'll see when that time comes.

Anna Jaworski :

That would be ideal. That would be ideal. Well, it's so exciting to hear that here he is - not even quite one year old - and he's already very active and it seems like his heart defect has not slowed him down one bit.

Meagan Sheakoski :

No, you wouldn't be able to tell if you didn't know.

Anna Jaworski :

Oh, my goodness, I can't believe our time is up, Meagan. I have so enjoyed talking with you. Thank you so much for coming on the program today.

Meagan Sheakoski :

Well, thank you for having me. I enjoyed our time as well.

Anna Jaworski :

Well, I think we will probably have taught some people a few things. I know I feel like I've learned something from you. And I hope maybe you can come back on the show again sometime.

Meagan Sheakoski :

Sure. That would be awesome.

Anna Jaworski :

Well, that's it for this week's episode, my friends. Did you know that you could listen to Heart to Heart with Anna on Goodpods. It's a cool new app that lets you listen to podcasts and then you can see what your friends are listening to, too. It would be great for you to subscribe to Heart to Heart with Anna on Goodpods and share the app with your friends. And remember my friends, you are not alone.

Conclusion :

Thank you again for joining us this week. We hope you have been inspired and empowered to become an advocate for congenital heart defect community. Heart to Heart with Anna, with your host Anna Jaworski, can be heard every Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern Time.