Despite many days spent throwing up and nauseous, and trying desperately to move into our new house; my pregnancy was otherwise uneventful and we expected nothing less than a healthy, bouncing baby boy. Caden was born, however, on August 3rd of last year with severe, undetected heart defects.
We spent the first hour after his birth together as a new family of four, blissfully unaware of what lay ahead, and oblivious to the dangers that lurked inside Caden's precious fresh-baby chest. After detecting a slight murmur, the hospital found Caden's oxygen levels (via pulse-ox) to be slightly low and he was taken to the NICU for "routine observation." They quickly discovered, however, that his heart hadn't formed correctly. Diagnosed with critical aortic stenosis, coarctation of the aorta, mild mitral stenosis, and several holes in his heart, they transferred him immediately to the Cardiac ICU at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Meanwhile, Adam and I stood with our own hearts broken, holding tightly to each other and to the promise of God's goodness even in the midst of chaos and pain.
Five days after Caden's birth, on August 8th, 2011, Caden underwent major open-heart surgery. Dr. Kanter performed the Ross-Konno procedure with coarctation repair. They left Caden's chest open for several days following surgery because of swelling. During this time, Caden's heart was in abnormal rhythm and there were lots of terrifying ups and downs. God's peace and presence were made so real to us in the three weeks we spent by Caden's bedside in the CICU. We are grateful for the ways that God wrote Caden's story, even though they were scary and unknown and painful.
Caden just turned one a few weeks ago, and he is our adorable little miracle boy. His heart murmur is loud, and his chest scar is fading. He sees the cardiologist regularly and will need more heart surgery throughout his life to replace the donor valve he currently has in his pulmonary valve. We are still learning to navigate with grace the steps laid out for us with our beautiful son. And every day we grip him tightly in gratitude, while holding him with open hands to our Father because we know that He has carried all of us and continues to hold us through this journey.
Caden has made me brave, taught me how to risk and how to face my deepest fears with grace and peace. He strengthened my faith and brings joy to our family every single day. To read more about his journey, read these posts first :-)
And you can read all my posts about Caden.
Oh and just in case you were wondering, Caden also has the best and bravest and sweetest big sister in the whole world.