Annabelle is my little rockstar with her new heart!!! She continues to do very well with only some minor expected hic-cups.

She is hooked up to the pacemaker to keep her new heart beating at a good rate. While this isn’t GREAT that she needs it, it isn’t abnormal at all. They had turned it off early this morning, but her heart rate kept dropping so they had to turn it back on. When they take out the old heart, they have to cut the nerves to the heart, so when the new heart is put in, the nerves aren’t connected in, so it takes a little bit for it to learn how to do it’s job in it’s new surroundings!

She had also had some minor episodes of blood pressure and Oxygen saturation drops, and was given blood to help with that.

A GOOD sign was that when we got to see her last night (around 3:30 a.m.) she was peeing all by herself! Previously she was on 3 high doses of diaretics to keep her kidneys working. As of 3:30, she was on NONE! Which is AMAZING! We have added her Lasix’ late morning (her primary diaretic) because she was a little puffy, but that is very normal and she was still going byherself… but since they’d given her so much blood and fluid, her kidneys just needed an extra boost.

Her liver, which was very hard and very distended (a huge sign of her heart failure), is now going back down and softening.

Her biggest issue right now is sedation. We came back to see her and she was on NO, I repeat, NO pain drips. They were giving her pain meds as needed only. Mommy was NOT thrilled at this because Annabelle was thrashing around in her bed and wasn’t very thrilled with it either. Shortly after they started her on a Versed Drip (continuing her other pain med PRN — means as needed) but this still didn’t help her and we were having to give her a PRN every 15 – 30 minutes, and she would flail her arms and legs and scrunch up her face in… not sure if it was pain or aggitation or what. She was also trying to pull her breathing tube out too, probably the biggest source of her irritation.

The REASON they were keeping her pain meds so low is that the intent was to extubate her from the ventilator today. Which, while it would have been great, scared Momma a little.

They decided, with Momma’s complete blessing, that Sunday should be used as a “day of rest” so we would be Biblical and let Annabelle rest the day after transplant! So, as long as she still has a stellar night with good blood gasses and no pressure issues, intent is to take the breathing tube out tomorrow. A TON of prayers for this, as if you know anything about Annabelle’s history, she’s had a TOUGH time extubating every single time.

Granted, she has a WHOLE heart now, not half of a one, so that should help, but she also has bronchial malacia (floppy bronchial tubes on her left side) so that doesn’t help the extubation cause.

But anyway, we now have 2 pain drips, and while she still gets aggitated easily, it is nothing like earlier today.

Scott and I? We’re tired. Very tired. We’d gone to bed about mid-night on Friday night, and got the call at 3:30 a.m. Then we weren’t able to SEE her until 3:30 last night… So didn’t get much sleep at all last night either. I took a little nap this morning, and Scott was able to sleep in some in the sleep room and is taking a nap now while I type.

Memories are so vivid right now. All the smells from her previous surgeries are back, and looking at my little love hooked up to all the tubes and wires absolutely breaks my heart.

I think yesterday I was just so very PUMPED with energy from it FINALLY being heart day, that today I’m facing the reality of recovery and while I’m so thankful and excited that she is doing so well, it is just all emotional and trying. I’ve had a horrible headache all morning and felt sick to my stomach (no virus… it happens with bad headaches) but it’s a little better now.

Part of me too is trying not to worry. Everyone SAYS everything is going so VERY well, but given Annabelle’s history of throwing curve balls when things seemed to be going exceptionally well, it just makes me cautiously optimistic. Every ding I want to jump up and check to make sure she isn’t failing. I listen with eager ears to every conversation and every number a doctor or nurse says.

One thing that is VERY VERY different from her previous surgeries is that I understand a lot more. With her Norwood, I was clueless. Her monitors and IV drips were big blurs of unidentifiable numbers. With her almost-Glenn-turned-newshunt/failed valve repair in October, I knew enough to be dangerous and know when something might not be right.

But this time, while I’m not an expert, I can nod my head like I know what they are saying and I’m not completely lying! Numbers make a little more sense, and I know enough to know when to be concerned. Although her numbers are different now… because she has a WHOLE heart. (I can’t stop saying that… WHOLE  heart… Not half of one… AHHH!)

The Other Baby

It may sound a little crass, but I didn’t think about the other baby a lot yesterday. I literally couldn’t go there without being overwhelmed. It was Annabelle’s heartday, and I was determined to focus on her that day. I put my emotional Mom heart on with Annabelle, but put my pretend Doctor hat on when talking about and asking questions about the donor heart. I guess it was my coping mechanism, as aweful as that sounds.

But SO SO many of you sent messages telling how you were praying for the donor family and thinking of them and crying for them, and I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. Something I was NOT able to do yesterday for fear of losing my sanity, you all stepped in the gap and did for me. This week (and probably every day for the next… oh… rest of my life) I will be spending a lot of time in prayer and mourning for them, even as I celebrate Annabelle’s new chance at life.


I have a ton of folks to thank. The list is too long to catch everyone, but I’ll do a little bit.

THANK YOU, obviously, to the donor family who gave the ultimate gift of life to my daughter.
THANK YOU, to the surgeon and his team, for your amazing work and dedication to my daughter.
THANK YOU to all the doctors and nurses who are caring for her postop and taking such care to make sure she has the best chance possible with her new heart.
THANK YOU to all my family for sitting with us yesterday. You made me laugh and smile even through the painful time, something you knew I really needed. (Even you Kari, for breaking the rules and playing with the operating waiting room intercom!) Euker during a surgery wait is MUCH needed as well!
THANK YOU to my sweet, wonderful, Mother-in-law for taking charge of my kids and for being with us every step of the way in this journey. You are truly a blessing! (and to my father-in-law, for letting us borrow his wife this long!)
THANK YOU for everyone for all the blog comments, emails, twitter mentions, and facebook messages. You have NO NO clue how much I NEEDED and cherished every one of them. To know just how many people were presenting my Annabelle, as well as the donor family, to God’s throne was so completely amazing to me. On top of that, every time I checked my phone I pleasured in reading them all, and it made the time go by MUCH faster and got my mind off everything.
THANK YOU Kristi for coming and visiting with us last night as well!
THANK YOU Pastor Derek for coming and praying with us and Annabelle yesterday morning!
THANK YOU Melissa for taking care of our “needs” without us even having to ask. You are a true example of being a humble servant of Jesus Christ. We WILL write that book(s) together!

And most importantly, thank you our Lord God in Heaven, for taking such sweet and gentle care of our Annabelle, for knowing the perfect timing and for supplying what we needed most at the exact moment we needed it.

We’ve reached our destination, but now it’s time for a new journey to recovery. A whole new set of curves and bumps, but God is in the process of renewing, and God is SO very good and amazing. We trust Him to direct our steps and give us strength and wisdom for the days a head. There are a lot of decisions to make and things to figure out, but God knows all this too.


Pink Toes!!

Annabelle with her Dolly just a minute ago!

Annabelle’s new pink fingers (not good lighting… but they really are pink!)

Her previous blue fingers!

Getting wheeled into surgery!

Post surgery at 3:30 a.m. It was SO SO SO hard seeing her like this. But she’s doing so well, and we hope to start losing some of the tubes and wires starting tomorrow!

(Note, I’ve been working on this post a little bit at a time all day… so if I said things five times or didn’t make any sense… well, it’s been a long few days, so forgive me this once!)



  1. Thanks so much for another glimpse into your life right now. Yes, many people rallied to pray. I'm so thankful for the way God is answering.

    Now it's just more steps. Relax, trust…and get some sleep. {{{hugs}}}

  2. So thankful its going well! I posted for prayer yesterday on my FB profile if you want to look there and see all that replied and were praying! I've been checking nonstop for an update and so glad to hear things are still going well! We will be down in June and I plan on seeing you and meeting Miss Annabelle! Hugs and more prayers!

  3. I've been checking blogger and twitter all day waiting for a post like this! I'm delurking to rejoice with you for Annabelle's new WHOLE heart! God is SO good!
    I'll be praying for a speedy and smooth recovery, and a fabulous extubation tomorrow!
    With love,
    Cassie Bradley

  4. It may not seem like it now, but she looks fantastic to me. Already low on the pain meds and about to be extubated… wow! It's amazing how similar those pictures look to the pictures of Lillian from a couple of weeks ago. Make no mistake, even with the breathing tubes and everything, she will get better (and it will likely be surprisingly quick).

    We will be praying for the upcoming weeks, that Annabelle not only heals quickly but that the bumps she hits will be minor. But you've finally hit the biggest milestone!

  5. I nearly cried when I saw those little pink toes and fingers..Keeping you in prayers..thank you for updating us in the midst of all the insanity.

  6. Wow. Thank you so much for the updates. It brings tears to my eyes. Thanks be to God!

  7. Yahoo! Wow! She's so PINK. 🙂 So praising the Lord that things are going so wonderful. I have to admit, I bawled like a baby (for joy, of course) reading through your post. What a joy!

    Thank you so much for sharing with us. I know it can't be easy sometimes to write up these posts. *biggest hugs*

  8. I've been stalking your blog and twitter for an update and was getting worried! Thank you so much for this wonderful glimpse into her Post Op! Praise God!!!!

  9. Thank you for the update, Krista. I'm so relieved to see those pink toes and fingers. I love the WHOLE heart. Just made me smile every time I read that.
    We will continue to pray for the donor family, even as we celebrate with you.

  10. What wonderful news! I got misty-eyed in church this morning while singing the choruses because I was filled with so much joy and was praising God for giving Annabelle the gift of her new heart. Had to swipe some tears away. As my pastor often says, "God is good, all the time." I've been thanking Him repeatedly and am praying for Annabelle's recovery. I'm thrilled that it's off to such a good start.

  11. She looks so beautiful!!

    We continue to pray. My ladies' Bible study gals have been following the story for months and lifting you and Annabelle up in prayer. It was so good to be able to tell them tonight that Annabelle had her new heart.

    And thank you for your comments re the other family. I've been praying for them, and I totally understand where you were at yesterday regarding them, and I don't think they would mind.

  12. "I will praise you, O LORD, with my *whole* heart; I will show forth all your marvelous works." Ps. 9:1

  13. She has a WHOLE heart! Krista – thank you for these updates. Like Sherrinda, I've been stalking your blog all day. I will continue to lift you, Annabelle, your family, and the donor family up in prayer.

  14. Yea! I'm so so happy for you all! I've been reading your updates from my phone and trying to comment but it wouldn't let me. But I swear I've been here praying and cheering Annabelle on! Keep up the good work girlie! 🙂

  15. Thanks for the update.
    Little Annabelle doesn't go anywhere without her pink hairbows, does she?
    Stylish, even in heart surgery.

  16. Krista so glad you are post op day 1 with Annabelle! I was very restless last night trying to sleep and pray. Finally at 4am I got up to check twitter to see if there was a new update – then I slept. 🙂 Love the pink fingers and toes. God is good. Rejoicing with you. Praying for these recovery days.

  17. Hi Krista –

    So glad Annabelle had a good day. I also posted on my Facebook profile yesterday and today to make sure as many people as possible got the prayer request.

    We're standing with you and your family and will continue to do so.


  18. Krista,

    Saw yesterday that Annabelle was getting her heart…my family and I have been praying for her, your family and the other family since. Seeing her pink fingers is wonderful…So happy for you and will continue to pray for Annabelle's recovery. Thank you so much for taking the time to update all of us during this trying time. Try and get some rest….you must take care of yourself so that you can take care of your little one.

  19. Krista-Thank you for being so open in sharing your journey with us. I have been blessed and encouraged as I've read of God's faithfulness to your family throughout all you have been through. I was so excited to read how well the surgery went and to hear that, all things considered, today has gone well.

    Continuing to pray!

  20. I was so excited to put Annabelle on the prayer cards today as a praise for getting her heart! We will continue to pray for her recovery and for the donor family. I can't wait to celebrate with Karalynn tomorrow!

  21. Thanks for letting us know what's going on. Just looking at the difference between her fingers before and after is amazing.

  22. I'm so thankful your precious little girl got her new whole heart!!!!! I heard through another heartbabies blog that she got her heart, but actually reading and seeing her pink little fingers and toes made me cry with tears of joy! I will keep you guys, Annabelle, the doctors, as well as the donor family in my prayers. You have a long journey ahead but this one is a positive one. So excited for you! To God be the glory!!!! He's always so good!
    Many blessings and prayers being sent to you!

  23. Oh, Krista! My heart goes out to you right now. Praise God for all the wonderful blessings and I will keep your family in my prayers. I will also pray as well for the donor family and for you and your husband, that you get the rest and peace you need to keep going.

  24. Dear Lord Jesus
    We praise You for Annabelle. Rejoice over her surgery! You are an awesome God! You love her, Your precious creation! Lord tonight I pray that you wrap Annabelle with your healing and protection. I pray for Krista and her family that you will give them strength, wisdom and peace. I ask that you will flood them with your presence. Lord You see them and You love them! Thank You God for what you've done and continue to do in each of their lives.

    Thank you for letting us into your day and journey! My heart rejoiced to read that Annabelle is doing so well. Loved the pictures of her toes! Yet ached for her pain and your heart as you watch your little girl. Krista I send a huge hug your way!

  25. I was so thrilled to see your post and Annabelle's photos. She looks amazing! PINK, PINK, PINK! Will continue to pray for your family and the donor's family. Thanks for sharing your life with us. Darla

  26. Thank you Krista for sharing your beautiful family.

    I was not able to get online in our prayer room. Our interser's were being asked what we needed prayer for and all of them rememberd I had asked for Annabell and her family. Donor family. We all rejoiced and then lifted all of you up to the LORD it was beautiful, It started about 5:00. and all promised to continuly lift her up. Prayer was over @ 8pm . Although I love to pray. I coulden't wait to get online to see your update of Annabelle.

    I pray you get a goodnight sleep to be rested for Annable also for mama's health have to take care of you too.May the Lords peacekeep you hold you give you the rest.

  27. What an awesome God we serve!!

  28. I just wanted to let you know that you and your family are an inspiration and a true testimony to what trusting in god can do. I will be praying for Anna and your family.

  29. I am so happy and thankful, reading she is doing as well as can be expected. I've been away all day yesterday but couldn't help myself thinking of her and "shooting" quick prayers for you all day.

    Now the new journey has started … try to rest as much as possible for she will need you again every step of the way. It's good to know God is there too, every step of the way!

    Hugs and prayers!

  30. Those pink toes are a beautiful sight! Continued prayers for you all!

  31. My thirteen year old sister and I have been following your blog and praying for Annabelle since the beginning of this year. I was so thrilled yesterday when I got to tell my sister that Annabelle got a heart!! I am SO happy for Miss Annabelle! I didn't realize how much her little heart had been affecting her whole body until you explained how she was already doing so much better yesterday. Praise God for pink fingers and toes, wet diapers and soft livers! 🙂 We've all got the other family covered in prayer. You just take care of your little heart warrior!
    Much love a prayers from Christin and Faith Boyce!

  32. Krista, It sounds like Annabelle's progress is very similar to my sister's. I know they're completely different sizes, but hopefully that serves as an encouragement. My sister is still working to get fluid off with double Lasix (almost 6 weeks post-op), so I was nodding along with all those comments. Like you, it's starting to switch from a foreign language to common words. 🙂

    I'll pray for you as the adrenaline wears off and reality sets in. Hope you can get some rest today…It will make such a huge difference. And I'll pray for Annabelle as the breathing tubes come out.

  33. Oh WONDERFUL news!! Thank you for sharing it all, Krista! Our families' prayers are still with you and Scott. Thank You Jesus for taking care of Annabelle!

  34. Oh, Krista, blessings to you and your family, and especially that precious baby. God be with you all as well as the donor family. Bless them for their sacrifice!

  35. Congratulations! I missed the post where she was getting her heart and saw this just now. Thank God for holding her in his hands and thank God for the loving generosity of the donor family. I'm praying for an uneventful recovery so she can be the active little girl she's meant to be!

  36. Krista,
    Thank you again for sharing just a small glimpse in your world with Annabelle :). I hope she's doing better today and I hope you were able to get some rest. I said something to a friend earlier that might encourage you too, "God's holding our hand and that by itself makes a world of a difference, even when as a parent you don't know what to say, or do." 🙂


  37. I am so excited for your family and yet so sad for the donor family. Annabelle has been in my prayers for quite some time now and I was so excited to see that Annabelle got her heart this weekend. I had been off the computer this weekend and decided to check on annabelle just now. Praise GOD! He is so good!

  38. Krista – I want to say that I wasn't surprised by why you hadn't said anything about the "other baby" – None of your words suprised nor shocked me. It was an overwhelming day for your family and your focus was on your child. You've been praying for the other family and knowing you, you will be praying for them for a very long time, so not being able to even contemplate the other baby on Saturday is OK.

    I am thrilled that Annabelle has her heart. Your family is in my prayers!

  39. Hi Krista and family–I only heard about Annabelle the day of her surgery but I have not been able to stop thinking about you all since then. My daughter had a heart transplant at Vanderbilt when she was six months old and the pics you posted of Annabelle after surgery look IDENTICAL to pics that we have of Shiloh at that same time! We will definitely be praying for sweet Annabelle and for all of you and if you ever have any questions or just want to vent, please do not hesitate to contact me–I would be more than happy to be an open ear or a sounding board whenever you would happen to need it! And we are practically neighbors, we live off Buckner Road so I am very close to your home and would be willing to do what I can to help you!!! Anyway, I will be anxiously awaiting your updates. Just keep allowing God to carry you all through this and allow his healing and peace to flow through you in this incredibly difficult time. May God Bless You All!!!
    Kristy Branson

  40. I imagine the other family rejoiced to see their baby's heart provide life to another. Otherwise they wouldn't have donated it. I imagine your daughter's chance of life will be a much needed balm to them.

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