A Mother's Intuition

When Dezeray Aguilar was pregnant with her first baby, her intuition kicked in well before she gave birth.

Both excited and shocked that she was pregnant, Dezeray had a rocky first trimester.

“I was always bleeding and worried that I was having a miscarriage,” said Dezeray. “I also had horrible morning sickness and lost 30 pounds.”

Dezeray worked as a full-time manager at H-E-B and had to take a step back due to how she was feeling during pregnancy. “They were so supportive,” explains Dezaray. “They just said to let them know what I needed and that I could return when I felt better.”

After getting over those initial three months, her pregnancy became a little easier, and she reclaimed some of her lost energy. She was excited about the arrival of her new baby boy.

Around 20 weeks, she had her routine anatomy scan, and everything was progressing along well. By all indications, Dezeray was going to deliver a healthy baby.

Even though she didn’t anticipate Freddie needing the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) services of CHRISTUS Children’s, she decided it was best to deliver there just in case. “My mom delivered there and my sister was in the NICU. I had told myself that I wanted to deliver there, too, just in case anything went wrong,” said Dezaray.

In hindsight, it was the best decision she ever made.

On June 29, at about 39 weeks, Dezeray delivered Freddie. In labor for only five hours and with her mom by her side, she was happy to be having an uneventful delivery, especially after a somewhat bumpy start. She was so grateful for Dr. Mallory Thompson, her obstetrician from The Women’s Center at Westover Hills. Dr. Thompson had monitored Dezeray’s pregnancy closely and helped get Freddie here safely.

Freddie seemed to be doing great. He was eating, and all his routine newborn tests were normal. It was when they came in to take his newborn photos, Dezeray noticed something that did not seem quite right: his feet were what she described as “purplish.”

The nurses assured her there was nothing wrong and that in a newborn, hands and feet are usually the last to become pink. Dezeray breathed a sigh of relief, but not for long.

“I thought Freddie looked dark when they were taking his photos and kept asking the nurses about it,” said Dezeray. “They took some readings of his oxygen levels, and they came back in the 70s and 80s – really low. They thought it was the machine, but to be safe, they took some more readings.”

The next thing Dezeray knew, Freddie was in the NICU, under the care of Dr. Sowmya Mohan and Dr. Maria Pierce who were telling her that he had a heart condition – something that went undetected in his anatomy scan before he was born.

It turned out Freddie had a rare congenital heart defect known as double outlet right ventricle atresia (DORV). In this condition, the heart’s two major arteries – the pulmonary artery and the aorta – connect to the right ventricle. In a normal heart, the pulmonary artery connects to the right ventricle, and the aorta connects to the left ventricle. In DORV the heart carries oxygen-poor blood to the rest of the body.

Dezaray recalled the reasons she chose to deliver at CHRISTUS Children’s. She was grateful she followed her instincts and made the decision to deliver Freddie at a place that had a dedicated team of experts familiar with these types of heart conditions plus a Level IV NICU that would take care of Freddie leading up to and after the surgery.

Dezeray met with several cardiologists from the Heart Care team including Dr. Jesse Lee and Dr. Daniel Nento. They explained how they would place a stent in Freddie’s heart to facilitate oxygenated blood circulating in his body, giving him a chance to go home and grow bigger prior to open-heart surgery.

On July 6, the cardiovascular surgical team at CHRISTUS Children’s performed the stent procedure, and everything went well.

“It was very scary at first, and I didn’t know what to expect,” said Dezeray. “But, Dr. Lee and his colleagues did a great job and kept me updated throughout the entire procedure.”

A few days later, Freddie was discharged and has been home ever since. He was sent home with a pulse ox monitor and Dezeray must do daily weight check-ins and send them to the cardiologist. Freddie takes three medications and Dezeray checks in with his cardiologist every two weeks.

“Right now, Dr. Lee says that Freddie’s stent is working well, so they are hopeful they can push his open-heart surgery out a bit longer, so he has the best possible outcome,” said Dezeray. “And after he does have his surgery, he’s expected to live a normal life and be a normal kid.”

For now, Dezeray is enjoying life as Freddie’s mom and is grateful for not only her foresight to deliver him at CHRISTUS Children’s, which is well-versed in complex conditions but also for the fantastic team that cared for him.

“They have been accommodating and informative. The team never made me feel like my questions were dumb. They were supportive with everything. They really showed compassion for my son and didn’t just treat us like another patient. They really cared for them. All the staff and everyone was just phenomenal,” she said.