Welcome to SEASON 3 of The Mount Motherhood Podcast.
In today’s episode, we chat with Brittany, who is the mother of four - Aden, Austin, Addison and Addley. Brittany talks about her CHD warrior Addison and all of the ups and downs of the NICU, tough surgery decisions, and coping with the diagnosis. She also talks about the benefits of sharing her story and helping other mothers along the way.
You can find a full transcript below.
You can follow this families journey on Instagram HERE.
Ivan - Host [00:00:07] Welcome to the I am made to mother podcast. In today's episode, we chat with Britney who is the mother of four Aiden Austin Addison and Adley. Brittany talks about her CHD warrior Addison and all the ups and downs of the NICU. Tough surgery decisions and coping with the diagnosis. She also talks about the benefits of sharing her story and helping other mothers in the process.
Ivan - Host [00:00:30] Brittany we're happy to have you on the I am made to mother podcast today. Can you start off by introducing your family?
Brittany [00:00:36] I'm Brittany. I'm a mum to four. Their names are Aden, Austin, Addison, and Adley. Their ages are 8, 6 and our twin identical girls are 3 years old.
Ivan - Host [00:00:48] To backtrack a bit, can you talk through just the first day you learned of Addison's diagnosis.
Brittany [00:00:54] Yeah. The first day when actually when we had her, she was born not breathing. So in my delivery, my room went from about 10 people or 10 or 12 people to 14 in a matter of seconds. She was born not breathing with fluid in her lungs. She didn't, the hospital we say that didn't have a NICU. But we did.
Brittany [00:01:16] And when we brought her home she always turned blue and she choked a lot. She did have acid reflux. So we kept saying "like something's wrong, we're not sure" and the doctor did say acid reflux. And then she had her first hospital stay which was kind of our time for observation as well as she got RSV.
Brittany [00:01:39] So she was admitted for that and then they heard an innocent fellow heart murmur. And that's when they found her heart defect. They did an echo which is the ultrasound of your heart and they found her hole which is called atrial septal defect. And it was a very large hole in the upper right septum of her heart.
Ivan - Host [00:01:59] During those especially challenging times, what resources and or people did you look to for support?
Brittany [00:02:08] We at first it was hard because we had to advocate a lot for her in order to like to finally find a diagnosis. And both me and my husband we pretty well looked for family support. We did have the support of lots of teens at the hospital but it was very overwhelming at first. Just because you're not really sure what's going to happen in the next few months what that all meant and initially finding out about it the day. Of course, I was emotional. I always had a feeling about something majorly being wrong in my gut. But I did know exactly that. So yeah we had a lot of family support at the beginning as well as some hospital staff that we knew. From kind of being there a few times when she got sick. So.
Ivan - Host [00:03:01] And then can you also share a bit about sort of the growth or the I guess the heightened sense of communication between you and your husband through all this and how you know both of you complement each other.
Brittany [00:03:18] I think it was hard at first because he wasn't home, so he works full time so he didn't get to be around the girls like every single day 24 hours a day like I did. So at the beginning when she'd choke or when she turned blue he didn't really see that as much as I would see it. And then at her first hospital admission, we were kind of like, he was kind of like I think more, "OK something is wrong. Like you can tell."
Brittany [00:03:43] And then when we, when she did get diagnosed he actually wasn't with me. My mom was with me. And when we, when I got to call him and tell him and come home we both kind of communicated about like the next steps going forward. And what we should, what we should do with her. She did get lots of other illnesses in between that time in between finding out about her heart defect as well. So we kind of just went back and forth about what do we do next. And how do we help her?
[00:04:18] And we want her to live. We wanted her to be able to live the best way possible. At first, the doctor said that we weren't allowed to or not allowed I should say but they said that they weren't sure about surgery at this point because most ASD's do close. But in her case, her ASD was very large. So we had to wait six months and they did another sedated echocardiogram where they actually put her under and they found a second hole below the large hole.
Ivan - Host [00:04:54] I know sharing your story online on social media certainly has its ups and downs. But how did you feel encouraged to kind of put this story out there about your daughter?
Brittany [00:05:06] I think at first we didn't really share a lot. So when we first found out about like Addison's defect and all of her illnesses, because she has a few, I never really shared her journey it took me about a month. We posted the odd thing here and there. Our close friends and family knew, but not a lot of extended people knew. But the day of her open heart surgery I actually made a post of everything we'd gone through that day.
Brittany [00:05:35] And then I kind of about two maybe three are actually a month later maybe two months we actually shared our journey in the pediatric intensive care units or the cardiac intensive care unit at our hospital. And that kind of for me, well I wanted to raise awareness not just for us but to really share her story for other families to know that it's OK. Things are going to be better. It's a short term period. Sometimes it is longer. Like for us we still have a little bit of a journey to go, not heart-wise but other things with her. But I just I wanted to really showcase what life was like and it was hard for us at that moment because the day of her surgery it was a lot of stress.
Brittany [00:06:23] Her surgery first got canceled and then it wasn't canceled and then it wasn't canceled and then we finally drove to the hospital and it was on. And so between the both of us, there was so much, like I just want to say there is so much stress for both of us. My husband didn't even want to do her surgery whereas I was like "No she needs it to better her life, otherwise she's not gonna have a very long life especially with physical activity." And so it was I think the best like the best decision we made but it was probably the hardest one that day because it felt like they juggled with our life just in those few moments.
Ivan - Host [00:07:00] Thank you for being open to sharing and during those moments where you know you were having to make these tough decisions. What kind of things were you telling yourself to kind of keep you as steady as possible despite you know maybe the feeling that the walls were crashing down?
Brittany [00:07:20] I think for me is I I'm not sure for everybody but for me, it was faith and my faith in God. I guess for myself. I was so angry for a period of time because I really wanted to conceive a girl and then we can see twins and they were identical girls and I really put my trust in just my husband and knowing the medical staff knew what they were doing and put our daughter in good hands. It was definitely hard to like give her over and sit there for four to five hours and wait to your told that she's made it or she might come out with a breathing tube depending on how they lead her off of her bypass machine. Some kids come back with a breathing tube and some kids don't.
Brittany [00:08:06] So we were really waiting and waiting and when we got to see her, we knew that everything was going to be OK.
Ivan - Host [00:08:18] What advice would you have for parents that are going through a NICU stay?
Brittany [00:08:23] The best advice I would give is make sure, for Justin and I, we made sure that we took time not just for us but we made sure that we got some sleep so we were better, better for her, better for the staff. Even though we wanted to be there every single waking moment for her.
Brittany [00:08:45] But we knew when she came out of surgery she was OK and she had around the clock care. So to really. it's really hard to put your trust and faith in somebody else.
Brittany [00:08:54] But in those moments there's nothing I can do to change that. And I think just doing that and really leaning on the supports like the hospital staff. The hospital you're staying at they may have support for you to really lean on. And family, we had family bring meals to the hospital for us so we didn't have to leave, as well as we had family help out with our other children so we could just devote 100 percent of our time just to her in those moments.
Ivan - Host [00:09:26] That's great great advice and one thing that my wife Samantha has done in rebranding initially it was the baby nation now it's made the mother you're about as part of the new focus is self-care and certainly you know reminding mothers that they are enough. How have you kind of gone through the challenges of knowing as a mom that you are enough and how what would you say to other moms who have gone through challenging times.
Brittany [00:09:51] I definitely want to say that every mom is enough. I know lots of moms put their children and their family first. And I want to say self-care for a mom is a really big tool and I'm a really big advocate for taking that time even if it's a 15-minute bath or reading a book for five minutes or getting your nails done or just anything simple.
Brittany [00:10:20] I feel that it just makes your health, it makes your mental state better even going through what we go through or what we went through and what we still go through with our daughter.
Brittany [00:10:30] I find that even if we do have a hospital stay I at least bring my sugar scrub or my air pods just to filter out things then that way I'm still giving myself five or 10 minutes even if she's sleeping or go for just a walk around the block because then your mind gets clear to really bring you down, to ground you; I guess if that makes sense.
Ivan - Host [00:10:54] Totally. And I know you know so far the conversation has revolved around you know Addison but can you describe your other three and just the bond between all your kids.
Brittany [00:11:04] Yeah. Our other three are pretty amazing. Our oldest he is so fun he raised he actually raised like about twenty-three hundred dollars for our community for the hospital that our daughter stayed at. So he's a pretty awesome little guy. Our middle one. He's all about sports. Anything Jock related. He's just so funny. I mean he's kind of like the little funny guy of the family. And then Addison's sister Adley.
Brittany [00:11:32] They're very much the same but they're very different in aspects but They have so much fun. And she has so much life and she's just carrying such a sweet caring little girl.
Ivan - Host [00:11:45] Very neat to hear and to meet them through the through this audio in this episode. One question that we certainly love to ask and our and our followers know this from each episode but how would you describe your husband's superpower. And if we had him on the show what would he say your superpower is.
Brittany [00:12:05] That's a good question. I think his superpower is just being my rock. I think he is one of the strongest guys I know he does break down from time to time. But I think that's natural and normal for a man to do. But I think he's just he's just there. And when our kids need him he just gives them unconditional love and attention that even for myself as a mom I couldn't do. So his superpower I think is just loving our kids and being the best dad that he can be.
Brittany [00:12:37] And now in talking about your son who raised that money for the community hospital do you want to mention the name of that hospital and sort of their impact on your family and then maybe any other organizations or support resources that you feel like would be helpful for our listeners.
Brittany [00:12:56] Yeah I, I want to say our girls were born at the Sturgeon Community Hospital in St. Albert Alberta and they are actually getting a NICU this fall and I'm super excited to hear that.
Brittany [00:13:09] I've known for years that they were getting a neonatal intensive care unit. It's one of the biggest hospitals that do births in Edmonton, I guess you can say St. Albert but all of our kids are born there and I wouldn't change a thing whether they had a NICU or not. My doctor was my rock and she kept me going. And then as well as the Stollery, the Stollery is like a world-class hospital in North America. We have kids that go to it like from all over, provinces. Some kids come from the states as well just to be at that hospital and it's a world-class hospital and they just go above and beyond for the kids. They just have so many programs at the hospital that kids can do to take their mind off it, especially with child life.
Brittany [00:13:55] Child Life is amazing. They're probably our godsent in order to keep Addison distracted when she has to go for any medical tests or like bloodwork or X-rays. To have a hospital like that in your backyard and very close to home has been one of the best things for our family. I think.
Ivan - Host [00:14:13] Terrific. Cool. That's the extent of my questions. Is there anything else you you'd want to add just about you know what's coming up through your family and just what you're, what you're excited about here in the summer months.
Brittany [00:14:28] Yeah I think with Addison's journey, we still have a bit to go on. She might have a chronic lung disease with an autoimmune disease. We're still kind of in the midst of finding that out. But I would like to say summer is awesome. Summer is probably the best months that we get to have the most fun with her. We get to be outside every day. We get to go to outdoor parks and just do with her. So I hope everyone's having an awesome summer and getting by the beach or by the lake or by the pool or doing something fun with their children.
Ivan - Host [00:15:00] Terrific well great chatting with you. All the best and now we can't wait to follow the journey of all four your kids and the wonderful parents that you are. Thank you.
Brittany [00:15:09] Thank you!
Ivan - Host [00:15:10] And as we were recording the intros and outros our two and a half-year-old daughter Evita wanted to say a few words.
Evita [00:15:15] "Thank you for being on the show"
Ivan - Host [00:15:19] She says, "thank you for being on the show."