Celebrations, Heart Defects, Holidays, Hospital Stays

Year in review: My Motherhood Pit and Peak

rsz_riebel-52_copyMother’s Day is all about honoring mothers for the love and time they pour into their children. For me, it’s also a time to reflect on how I’ve done as a mother over the past year. Let’s be honest; we all have our good days, and our not so good days. After giving some thought to the last 12 months, I thought I’d share my deepest low (my “Pit”) and my highest high (My “Peak”). I find sharing experiences is really therapeutic and also helps other parents know they’re not alone. So I would love to hear from you in the comment section: What’s your parenting Pit and/or Peak?

My Pit

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Maddie had been struggling with bronchiolitis since February. When she was diagnosed, they warned us that it may take several months for it to clear up. And they weren’t lying. Over the next three months the illness continued to plague her.

On this particular weekend she seemed to be feeling worse than usual. On Friday evening I decided that a nice long walk in her stroller might help to relax her and give her a comfortable sleep. She slept all through the ride, ate a little something, and then slept another 12 hours- very atypical for her.

Continue reading “Year in review: My Motherhood Pit and Peak”

Coping, Heart Defects, Hospital Stays

Six Truths of a Long-Term Hospital Stay with your Little One

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During the first year of Maddie’s life we spent close to two months in the hospital. At different times, we were in the NICU, the cardiac ICU, on the neurology and cardiac inpatient floors, and we did an inpatient and outpatient stent for two different surgeries. Those days were some of the most challenging, confusing, exhausting days of my life. But we made it through, and we even managed to find moments of levity between the moments of stress and terror.

You learn the routine

We spent most our time at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC). Like most hospitals, the doctors begin rounding early in the morning. CCHMC takes a multidisciplinary approach to care, and depending on your child’s condition, the team that rounds may have up to six clinicians or more. For instance, in the NICU each morning there was an attending physician, a nutritionist, a cardiologist, etc. Most days we would know what time the team started rounding, but we would never know exactly when they were coming to see us. Although we were always eager to speak with the doctors, we quickly learned that the later in the morning the team stopped by (and the smaller the team), the less serious the patient’s condition. For instance, on our first day on the neurology floor after
Maddie’s seizures began, we had a huge team of doctors who showed up around 7:30 a.m. On the day we were discharged we only saw one physician, and he did not stop by until close to noon.

Rounding on the Neuro unit. Maddie had bronchiolitis, so every clinician who entered the room had to garb up to reduce the risk of infection in other patients. 
Continue reading “Six Truths of a Long-Term Hospital Stay with your Little One”

Celebrations, Events, Heart Defects

My Reason “Why”- Our story for the Heart Walk 2017


Our daughter, Madison Grace Riebel, was born on November 5, 2015 with a heart defect called Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA). This condition often corrects itself during the first year of life. However, due to the severity of Maddie’s defect, this turned out not to be true in her case. During her first eight months, we spent a lot of time at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. We were in the NICU for three weeks due to oxygen desaturations. Once we got that under control we went home, but were then hospitalized with bronchiolitis (worsened by the PDA), and lived with that February through June. Then in June we ended up in the Cardiac NICU with pneumonia derived from RSV that went undiagnosed. Again, a complication of the PDA. In August Maddie had surgery to correct the PDA. Her cardiologist said that the PDA was much larger than she expected, and it would not have closed on its own. Amazingly, the procedure was minimally invasive, and we returned home the next day. Since that time, Maddie has had a huge increase in her energy level. She’s gotten several colds and upper respiratory infections while at daycare, but has recovered in a ‘normal’ amount of time. Her quality of life is excellent, and we’re so thankful for all the great care that she’s received. In late January, her cardiologist said that we could consider her heart healed, and we will not have another appointment for two years!