Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Home Sweet Home

Carter has reached another major milestone!  Today, he was released from Seattle Children's Hospital.  How absolutely amazing.  Teresa, Erick, and Carter are now at home with Madison and Clinton for the first time since early January.  Carter has had major surgeries in the past and been able to return home before, but this time he goes home with the opportunity to fully recover instead of waiting for the next surgery.

While everyone is overjoyed at this major step, it is important to understand that Carter is still in the early stages of recovery and is very susceptible to illness and infection.  Teresa and Erick have undergone significant training from the experts at Seattle Children's to teach them about Carters many medications, strict timelines for administering those medications, Carter's diet requirements, and cleanliness standards for the home.  Basically they have been told that their home has to be an extension of the hospital to ensure that the has a safe and healthy recovery.  This is so serious that they had to take Madison and Clinton out of kindergarten and preschool because they can be exposed to too many risks that can be brought back to the home.  Also for this reason they are under strict restrictions on visitors to the home.  Teresa and Erick know that so many friends and family want to see Carter, but please know they have to be very protective of him and his fragile health at this point.

As always, your support has been a true sense of strength for the entire family!  Thank you so much for all of your continued prayers and support.

Also, as a reminder, we are still auctioning off handmade baby clothes from  Please see the blog entry from February 27th for more information on the auction and photos of the clothes that are being auctioned off to support the Carter Fund.

Monday, February 27, 2012

KristyJane Baby Clothes Auction to Support Carter Fund

Carter continues to recover day by day at Seattle Children's Hospital.  Today he even got to go on a little adventure outside.  His growing strength is inspirational.

The support that Carter and his whole family have received from friends and family has also been very inspirational.  This week, we have been blessed with a donation of beautiful handmade baby clothes from Kristy Lombardo.  Kristy is a family friend, and is originally from the same small northern California town where my family is from.  Kristy donated her time and skills in the design of these adorable outfits to be auctioned off to support the Carter Fund.  If you are interested in any of the outfits pictured below please send an email to me at and the amount that you would like to donate.  The outfit will go to the highest bid that is sent in by midnight March 8th.  The winners of each outfit will be notified on March 9.

1) Specially Designed Heart Awareness shirt and bib (1-2year)
2) Whale Onesie and Bib (12mo)
3) Bird Onesie (9-12mo)
4) Green Star Onesie (6-9mo)
5) Dark T Onesie (6-9mo)
6) Twitter Onesie (6-9mo)
7) Scull Onesie (12mo)

For more information on Kristy's designs you can go to her website,

Stylish. Practical. Fun
Handmade Baby Gear

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2 Week Post Transplant

It is a little over 2 weeks since Carter had his transplant.  We are so very happy that he is out of the ICU and is on the regular ward floor.  He was able to see Madison and Clinton this last weekend, but unfortunately Clinton was sick so his weekend trip was cut short.  He couldn't be at the hospital with Carter when he was sick, and he couldn't be at the Ronald McDonald House because of the families and children with sensitive immune systems.  These types of restrictions are unfortunately going to be a part of everyday life for Carter and his entire family.

Carter continues to have his ups and downs but is improving everyday.  Just the other day he went for a walk around the ward!  He continues to get more and more active and is returning to his smiling happy self.

Meanwhile, Teresa and Erick are being tested to learn all of the medications that Carter will have to take on a daily basis.  As part of the anti-rejection routine, Carter will have to be regularly medicated throughout his lifetime.  For now we all continue to be thankful for the daily blessings and pray for his continued improvement.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Carter on the Move

It has been a little over a week since Carter's surgery.  Everyday brings new blessings.  Last week we were overjoyed at the pink color in Carter's skin indicating a healthy blood and oxygen flow throughout his entire little body.  This week we get to celebrate the fact that Carter is unplugged and unrestricted from connections and tubes providing him with constant medication and/or feeding the doctors and nurses with stats and vitals 24x7.  Of course, on occasion they still need to utilize his PICC line to administer medication when needed, and check his vitals regularly, but he isn't constrained to the bed anymore.  That freedom coupled with his increase in energy and strength meant that just yesterday Teresa and Erick were able to take Carter on a walk around the hospital unit!  Watch out, Carter is mobile!  Everyday he is growing stronger and is recovering steadily.  He is still in the ICU but there is increasing hope that he won't be there much longer.  Along with daily progress there are also minor areas of concern, but those are to be expected.  The goal is to slowly reduce those areas of concern and continue to allow him to grow back to full strength.  By the time he leaves the hospital he should be stronger than he has ever been. 

Thank you as always for your continued support and prayers.  And on a final note, I personally pray that Teresa and Erick soon realize how mobile Carter is and that he starts getting into everything and being as rambunctious a toddler as he can be. I hope his parents get to realize him in the "Terrible Twos"... getting into everything and running all over the house with endless energy!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Carter Looks Great in Pink!

So much has happened in a month!!!  Of course the pinnacle of Carter's journey was last week when he received his new heart.  If you have been following along you know by now that he received a new heart last week and went into transplant surgery that same night.  For the past few days he has been in the Intensive Care Unit recovering with his family.  He has been pretty heavily sedated and has been groggy and kinda slow to wake up.  But I am very happy to let you all know that starting yesterday he has been waking up and today he is awake and Teresa and Erick are able to hold him!  He is eating and drinking on his own and doing great.  Hopefully he will be out of the ICU in a day or so.  For now they are trying to keep him relaxed and quietly recovering without too much stress.  Some family and friends have been able to come and see him and as always Teresa and Erick are so thankful for the support!

The most exciting thing for Teresa and Erick is to see their little boy without the previously ever present blueish tint to his skin.  Before the transplant Carter was always struggling to get enough oxygen to his body which left him always looking a little cold.  He always had a slight blueish color to his skin, especially in his extremities such as his toes and nail beds.  But now, they have a PINK, warm baby boy.  Here is a picture of this little miracle of life!

These are the types of moments that need to be celebrated!

Thank you everyone for his birthday wishes and your continuing prayers and support.  I will continue to keep you updated as Carter recovers.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Birthday Wishes

Today is Carter's Birthday!  He has so much to celebrate today and all of his days to come.  Here are some wishes that have come in for Carter from friends and family.

To my Grandson Carter on his 2nd Birthday. You have received the best birthday present anyone could ever give you. All of us are so happy for you and love you so very much. I cannot wait to hold you in my arms again and read our book together. Love you so much little guy! - Grandma Robyn

Happy Birthday.  We love you and can't wait for you to come home. - Love Aunt Kim, Alexis, Jadyn, Ilijah, and Felix

Our Dear Grandson Carter, Happy Birthday!  We love you and will see you this afternoon!!! - Love Grandpa and Gramma Lori!!!

Happy 2nd Birthday to baby Carter, you are an inspiration too all of us.  God and his healing angels have blessed you with the gift of life, and we are grateful beyond words for that.  Faith can move mountains, thank you God for this miracle.  Can't wait to meet you one day little guy! - Your cousins Shae, Brenda, Andre, Eric and Nicky

HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! You are the strongest, bravest boy I have ever met!  Have a wonderful amazing day! - Love Aunt Sam

Happy Birthday Carter! You are an amazing boy. Your courage and strength has inspired me beyond words. You are a miracle that will forever touch my heart! Sending my love and prayers to you on this wonderful day :) - Dan

Happy Birthday Carter - you are the most beautiful courageous and strongest 2-year-old.... You are a blessing to this world... I Love You Carter... again Happy Birthday and "MANY MANY MORE" !!! - Love your Aunt Tammy Laizure

Happy 2nd Birthday to the most brave little boy I know! I love you Carter and I hope you're home soon celebrating with your whole family!!! - Tasha, Cory, Garrett, and Chandler

Happy Birthday Carter!!! - Love Uncle Tod and Aunt Em

Happy Birthday buddy!!  We love you so much.  You are such a wonderful part of our lives and we are so happy God gave us the privilege to be a part of your family. You are so special and we can't wait to share many more birthdays with you. - Love you always, Uncle Seth, Aunt Tana, Logan, Jackie, and Willis

Happy Birthday Carter with many more to come! - Love Uncle Brian

... and MANY MORE!!!! From the bottom of my heart, Happy Birthday. - Love Aunt Melany

Wishing you, Carter, a very Happy Birthday. My prayers for you and your family always. I love you very much! - Aunt Julie

Sweet Carter, you are such a wonderful blessing.  Even before you were born you had my heart.  I am so thankful that you are in my life.  Thanks to you I have a renewed and stronger faith in God, greater than I ever had.  I don't think I could ever put into words how special you are.  You are a miracle, a very beautiful miracle.  You are the greatest blessing.  God must have an amazing plan for you!!! I love you so very much.  I miss you terribly.  I pray for you always and I'm so excited and filled with unspeakable joy that you were given a new life.  You are truly an inspiration!!!! Happy 2nd Birthday sweet boy! - Aunt Elisa

Happy Birthday Carter! Your a little beauty mate. A true champion! - Love always, Jason, Alison, Imogin, Judah and Shylah

Happy Birthday Carter!! I love you so much.  I miss you too much.  I've been wanting to see you forever since the day I left Washington.  I can't believe my baby cousin is turning 2 years old!!! I remember being with you when you were barely 5 months old just a baby :) Happy Birthday love.  Just remember I will always love you :). - Love Samantha Salazar

Dearest Carter, Happy Birthday to you little precious one.  You do not know me but I am your mommy's cousin Devin.  Although we have never met I want you to know you have been in my thoughts and prayers for the past two years.  I am just tickled pink that you have been given the gift of life.  I am sorry you had to go through everything you did... you are a strong little buddy and I can't wait to someday meet you!! To a new life!! - Love your 2nd cousins, Tim, Devin, Tristin and Trevor. xoxo.

Happy 2nd Birthday Carter, having family around the world means you get to celebrate your birthday a little early :) Carter you are such an amazing young man you have touched so many people all over the globe!  Your strength courage and fighting spirit blow me away! your cheeky dimpled grin is so adorable I love you xoxoxox.  We all wish you the happiest of Happy Birthdays.  Happy Birthday to you Happy Birthday to you Happy Birthday dear Carter Happy Birthday to you hip hip hooray hip hip hooray hooray!!! - Trish

Happy birthday wishes for the toughest, bravest, most loved and blessed little man I know. When you grow up you get to tell people that when you were 2 you got a new heart for your birthday. God bless you Carter. Your cousin Lisa loves you bunches. - Lisa Marie

Happy 2nd Birthday Carter, you are such a strong boy and we love you so much! - Love Abbie,Sarah,Jack and kids;)

Happy Birthday Carter! You are the strongest little man ever!!! I love you! - Sarah Hasch

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CARTER. You are the strongest little man... Many many wishes and hugs and kisses!! - Stephanie Mabrey

Happy Bday to a precious angel!! Sincerely with love. - Kindra and Family

Happy Birthday Carter.  So happy to hear about your new heart and wish you you many more birthdays :) - Don Dewey

Happy Birthday Carter!!! UR a blessing to the world. - Dustin Lees

Little Carter, you have no idea the affect you have had on people.  Even people that have never met you.  You must have an amazing purpose in life! You are a miracle that gives hope and builds faith in everyone around you.  Happy Birthday to an angel here on earth! - Angela DeArte

Special Happy Birthday wishes to Carter. - Raymie and her mom Karen

Happy Birthday Carter and many many more.  We love you. - Mark and Jolyn Credell

Happy Birthday!!!!!! Carter hoping you having an amazing day! - Randy Mason

Happy 2nd Birthday!  Hope your day is AMAZING!!  Praying for you every day! - Love, The Hane Family!

Happy Birthday Carter!!!! I want you to know that we love you and are so proud of you. You have been such a trooper thru out your whole process. I can't wait to watch you grow, run, and love life. Happy Birthday buddy enjoy your day and give mommy a big hug. - Kristen Croy

Happy Birthday Carter! You are a very special little boy and I keep you in my prayers daily. - Teresa Finkenkeller

Special Birthday Wishes to Carter. Happy Birthday to you with all our love. - Karen and Raymie

Happy, Happy Birthday Carter...Wishing you a wonderful day and a wonderful life little man..God has bless you with the greatest gift ever, enjoy your new beginning...Love and Prayer's coming your way always. - Roberta Simon

Happy Birthday Carter!! I have never met you but you hold a special place in my heart and it makes me so incredibly happy that you got your miracle!!!! Here's to many, many more Happy Birthdays!!! - Amber McClure

Happy Birthday Carter! Although I have never met you, just by hearing the wonderful stories and the events you have been through I can tell you are a strong and precious little boy who holds a special place in many hearts including mine. I'm so happy God blessed you and your family with the greatest birthday gift of all, a new beginning! I hope you have a spectacular birthday and many more to come! - Adrena Byers

Happy Birthday to the strongest little guys in this world. Happy birthday Carter. - From the Long family! Amber Stone

Happy Birthday, Carter!!! - Lydia Keeler

Happy Birthday Carter!!!!!! Now your heart can keep up with your spirit!!!! Still praying for you!!! - Lynette Gallagher

Happy Birthday, Carter! Much love. - Kotschwar's


Happy Birthday Carter.  May all your dreams and wishes come true.  You will forever be in my prayers and in my heart.  Many, many heartfelt birthday wishes to you.  With many more to come.  - Connie, Chano and Julian

Happy Birthday Carter. We may not have met but thanks to your awesome Aunt I have came to know you and became one of your biggest fans. Your enduring strength inspires me. - Jamie and Erick

Happy 2nd Birthday Carter!! Your an amazing little boy, hope your birthday is filled with love, laughter and celebration! Wishing you a year of healing and happiness. - The Swinney Lyme Kingdom :)

Happy Birthday baby. - Kareena

Happy Birthday lil Carter! U are truly blessed! Have  a great Birthday! - Isidro Ramirez and Family

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Sigh of Relief

It is done.  Carter is out of surgery and his heart is beating at 100% for the first time in his life.  He is in recovery and with family now.  Thank you all again for all of your support and prayers.

Here is to a quick recovery!!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Moment to Reflect

Tonight amid the news of the amazing blessing of a donor heart for Carter there is so much emotion.  The full spectrum of emotions are present: first, sheer excitement at the opportunity of a healthy life for this beautiful boy; secondly, concern for Carter going through this invasive transplant surgery; and finally, deep sadness and eternal gratitude for the family that just lost their angel yet made the honorable choice to give the gift of life to Carter.

This weekend Carter was in the Intensive Care Unit while his medication levels were adjusted.  Sometime Friday night or early Saturday morning, Carter decided to pull out his own PICC line and it had to be replaced early this morning.  Carter has been sedated for most of today and was weakened by the procedure to replace the PICC line.  Over the past few days his heart failure has been increasing and has been in obvious discomfort.  The timing of this donor heart couldn't be better.  Over the past few weeks he has been getting weaker so there is some concern over this upcoming surgery.  While we are all so very thankful for the gift of this healthy new heart we ask that you please understand that your prayers and support are still needed through this surgery tonight and as he recovers in the next days and months.

Teresa and Erick and our entire family are immensely, deeply blessed by the gift  that a family has given to Carter.  Since we learned that Carter needed a heart transplant it has been very difficult for all of us to comprehend and come to peace with the fact that while we prayed for a heart for Carter that we knew that there would have to be the loss of another life.  We mourn for the loss of the angel that is blessing Carter tonight and pray for the family as they go through this difficult time.

We also are thankful and pray for the skills of the surgeons, nurses, and all of the hospital staff that will take Carter into their care.  We pray that they care for him as if he were their own and that the Lord watch over them.

Your outpouring of support is amazing and gives us all strength.  At this time we ask that in lieu of flowers or gifts, that if you are moved to do so that you please send any gifts to one of the recommended charities listed along the right hand side of this blog.  Carter cannot have flowers in his room, and there is very little space for toys.  Thank you so much for all of  your love!

In all of this emotional turmoil, I turned (like a good Episcopalian) to the book of Common Prayer.  I found these prayers to be comforting and I hope that they offer you the same.

For those we Love
Almighty God, we entrust all who are dear to us to thy never-failing care and love, for this life and the life to come, knowing that thou art doing for them better things than we can desire or pray for; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For the Care of Children
Almighty God, heavenly Father, you have blessed us with the joy and care of children: Give us calm strength and patient wisdom as we bring them up, that we may teach them to love whatever is just and true and good, following the example of our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

As more news is available I will be sure to keep you all updated.

Thank you all for your prayers and support. 

A Blessing Received

Tonight at 8pm Pacific Time, our prayers were heard.  It has been confirmed, a donor heart has been found for Carter!  Thank you for your prayers and support.  While this is an amazing gift, we still ask for your prayers because as soon as tonight Carter will be going into heart transplant surgery.  We will share more information as soon as it is available.

We also ask that you send prayers to the family that was so kind as to give this blessing.

Thank you and God Bless!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Heart Awareness Day

Today is National Heart Awareness Day.  Teresa and Erick have received pictures of family and friends from all over wearing red to support Carter and his cousin Ilijah who were both born with a Congenital Heart Disease.  They have received pictures of Carter's newest cousin Willis in Red and even Steph and Josh from Australia are wearing red today!  Thank you everyone for your continued support.

As far as little man, Carter, his BNP levels continue to be very high despite the round of diuretics to reduce the amount of fluid on his heart.  The doctors and nurses have all been working very hard to keep his levels within reasonable thresholds but today they came to the decision that they have to increase the level of Milrinone that he has been receiving.  Milrinone is a medication that strengthens the contractions of the heart and reduces the resistance against which the heart pumps.  It increases the amount of blood pumped out of the heart with each contraction.  (Thank you Dr. Steve for the description.)  While they are increasing the medication Carter has to be admitted to the Intensive Care Unit.  We hope that he is only in the ICU while they are administering and managing the increased levels of Milrinone and that he will be back in the regular pediatric ward in a day or so.

Carter continues to be in good spirits and has been enjoying the visit from his Grandma Robyn.

For the remainder of today please spread awareness for heart disease and pray that Carter is out of the ICU as soon as possible.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Week 3 Update

I can't believe that it has been three weeks that Carter has been in the hospital.  I am sure that it seems much longer than that for Teresa, Erick and of course Carter.  

Carter is doing as well as can be expected.  He is stable and is still a very happy little boy.  He still needs constant medication to control his vital organs.  His liver continues to be enlarged, and his BNP levels are higher than the doctors would like.  BNP levels indicate the level of heart failure, suffice to say, Carter's levels are really high.  For the most part they are managed through medication, but recently they have started to climb.  This has the doctors a bit concerned and they continue to monitor these levels and are working diligently to get the right mixture of medication to care for these factors.

Teresa and Erick try to keep him active by taking Carter for walks around the hospital halls.  He gets winded pretty easily because of the physical exertion but they need to keep him moving around as much as possible.

Carter has enjoyed quite a few visitors including is Grandma Monica who came over from Eastern Washington, his Aunt Kim and cousin Ilijah, and many others who have stopped by to wish him well, and cheer him up.  Carter loves to laugh and play and loves time with his friends and family.  Thank you to everyone who has been able to stop by the hospital.  It is a blessing to Carter and Erick and Teresa!

The family as a whole is getting used to this new "normal" and settling in to somewhat of a routine.  It is clear that they may be in this situation for a long time so they are trying very hard to make sure that they are able to give Carter all of the attention and care that he needs while ensuring that Madison and Clinton are well cared for and get special Mommy and Daddy time.  This past weekend they were able to go to the Seattle zoo with Erick and his mom, Monica.  I have also heard a rumor that Daddy Erick has a special date to the Daddy-Daughter dance coming up at Madison's school.

Thank you as always for your continued support and prayers for Carter and his entire family.  Their strength is enhanced by the love and support of this very large network of friends and family.

God Bless.