One week after my daughter was born with Down syndrome and a heart defect, we began the many trips to doctors.
The first appointment was with Harper’s pediatrician. We drove down the street to the Green Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics (ACHP) office, where we met the new doctor at the practice, Dr. Jennifer Snyder. We weren’t sure what to expect. We had been going to the Green ACHP for years but had never met Dr. Snyder.
Whatever I was expecting, I couldn’t love Dr. Snyder more than I do. She sat with us, answered all of our questions, admired how adorable Harper was and did all her research. She had obviously prepared for our visit.
She had highlighted an article to make sure she didn’t miss any point she wanted to discuss with us. She gave tons of resources, including contact information for other moms with children with Down syndrome.
Our next appointment was 2 days later with the cardiologist. This appointment was giving me a lot of anxiety. A lot rode on what Dr. J.R. Bockoven had to say about Harper’s heart.
Again, I was really impressed. Dr. Bockoven began the appointment by welcoming us into the family. He then had another echocardiogram done because the one in the hospital was with an adult machine. He sat with us for over an hour explaining everything about her heart defect and what needed to be done to fix it.
Harper has atrioventricular canal defect, an issue that is most commonly found in children with Down syndrome. There is a hole in her heart where the 4 chambers didn’t close. Her oxygenated and un-oxygenated blood mix together in her heart, among other issues.
I am scared for my baby to have open heart surgery, but Dr. Bockoven explained that in terms of open heart surgeries, Harper’s is routine. There are no surprises with her defect and it is not severe.
As we left, Dr. Bockoven gave us his personal cell phone number, telling us to not hesitate to call him if we needed to. That really helped put me at ease. He truly cared about not only Harper, but me and Aaron as well.
Harper is just getting started on her medical journey, but I feel we are definitely on the right path after the first 2 appointments. We have more doctors to meet and more appointments to attend, but I am becoming more equipped to handle everything as I learn about Harper’s heart and about Down syndrome.