Healing a Tiny Heart – Part 9

A parent’s worst nightmare is learning something is seriously wrong with their child. It is traumatic at any age in that child’s life, but far worse in the case of an infant.

Being told your 2 month old son has a huge hole in his heart, which will require open heart surgery to correct, is something no parents ever want to hear.

Although the majority of the posts in this series were written by his parents, this post is mostly written by me. Cash’s parents have far too much on their minds rigfht now to take the time to write. So I am doing it for them.

Right now, Baby Cash is in surgery. This two month old baby boy is undergoing open heart surgery to repair a large hole in his heart. The surgery is expected to take anywhere from four to six hours.

That’s four to six hours for nervous and scared young parents to sit in a waiting room with their own parents as they watch the clock slowly tick the minutes away. They will jump every time the doors open, or every time the phone rings in the waiting area, waiting for news about their infant son.

It’s been a long week for Ashley B and her husband Coleman. A long week since they were told by their new pediatrician that their seemingly healthy two month old son had a large hole in his tiny heart which would require open heart surgery to correct.

It’s been a whirlwind with medicines, rushed trips to the hospital, and suddenly being told to pack a bag and bring him immediately to CHKD, where he will be staying for a while.

His current nursery is not decorated with the nautical blue and gray whales and boats that he’s used to. Instead he’s in a pediatric crib, hooked up to iv’s, wires, and monitors, with nurses watching every breath he takes, every beat of his little heart. With his mom and dad not leaving his side, sleeping in the room equipped for the parents of their very special patients. As close to him as they can be. Protecting him as much as they can.

Nether Ashley B nor Coleman got much sleep last night. They were too worried, too keyed up. The love and heart of their life would be undergoing an operation in the morning that’s scary enough for adults, let alone babies. All they wanted to do was watch their son sleep, and tell him over and over how much they love him. As much as they wanted to grab him and take him home, away from this nightmare, they couldn’t. His life depends on this surgery.

This was written yesterday, as told by Ashley B:

“Early this morning we met Cash’s surgeons as well as many members of the team who will be working with the surgeons before, during, and after the surgery. They were very confident which helps relieve some of our worries. They made it very important to point out how hard it would be to see him after surgery. Let’s just say I’m not prepared…I don’t think anyone can ever prepare to see their child like this. I wish I could crawl in that crib with him and sleep but the nurses won’t let me. I’ve tried. We have a long day ahead but are ready for our little hero to get his heart fixed. Keep the prayers coming. Cash is a Rockstar! He’s got this.”

Then later, in the middle of the night, I received this text:

“This night so far has been horrible. They took blood from him at 5:00 pm. Poked him in 2 spots. And told us he couldn’t eat at 2:00 am. Now they told us 12. And that they need 3 more vials of blood. I had to step out and cry while poor Coleman has to help hold him down. His heart rate is skyrocketing and now they just told us his IV is leaking and they have to re-do it. I have to listen to my baby scream again. And I can’t even comfort him with milk…”

My heart broke again for them.

And now they are all sitting in that waiting room, praying, worrying, wondering, and praying some more for good news from the surgeon who drove some four hours from the University of Virginia to CHKD to perform this lifesaving surgery on little Cash. As confident as they are in the surgeon’s skill, they’re still scared to death.

Following the surgery Cash will remain in the hospital for several weeks while being closely monitored by a group of extremely dedicated and highly professional doctors and nurses at Children’s Hospital of the Kings Daughter’s (CHKD) in Norfolk. When he is released, it will have been some three weeks for him being away from his own home.

Open heart surgery is scary for anyone, no matter the age. My husband had to undergo open heart surgery for a heart valve replacement less than a year after we were married. At the time I didn’t know whether I’d be a young widow or not. As much as my head told me he’d be fine, and he was, my own heart was terrified. He wasn’t worried until the night before when we’d toured the ICU where he’d be recovering, and saw actual patients who’d just had similar surgeries, wires and tubes and monitors hooked up to them everywhere. Seeing all of that suddenly made everything so much more real.

My husband’s surgery was 31 years ago. Open heart surgery has changed quite a bit since then. When he had to have a second surgery done some 18 years later to replace the valve again I wasn’t quite as nervous. But still, the heart is one of the two most vital organs in your body. How can you not be scared?

My emotional heart is aching for Ashley B and Coleman, crying with them, and praying with them. Our daughter and son in law, very close friends with Cash’s parents, are equally nervous and worried. Baby Cash and our granddaughter Rachel are very close in age, and already seem to know each other.

I know this story will have a happy ending. But it’s a terribly emotional roller coastal ride for the parents, grandparents, and friends. Please take a moment to pray for this sweet baby boy and his family. Cash is a fighter, and has a great future ahead of him in his adult life. His story will encourage many others.

But now, we all wait…..

Previous posts in this series can be found in the “Healing a Tiny Heart” Category on this blog.

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