When we found out I was pregnant with our fourth child, a third boy, my husband, Justin, and I were ecstatic. We felt that he would be the perfect caboose to round out our little crew with big sister Austin and big brothers Grayson and Barrett.
Following an uneventful pregnancy, Hayes came into the world weighing just over 9 pounds and was seemingly healthy and beautiful. It wasn’t until about 24 hours after delivery that we found out that was not really the case. Initially, I thought his feet looked a little bit purple, but our nurse explained that circulation issues can occur during a C-section and it would likely resolve itself. Following a brief trip to the nursery about a day after birth, the nurse mentioned that a neonatologist would be stopping by because his coloration still seemed a bit off.
As I recovered in my room, the neonatologist came in to check Hayes’ blood oxygen saturation level, mentioned the need for further testing and whisked my baby away to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) as I sat alone and terribly worried. I called my husband and let him know that he should come back to the hospital as quickly as possible because there was a potential issue with our baby. As he rushed back to the hospital in a panic, we got the news that turned our world upside down – something was wrong with my baby’s heart.
It was at that moment that I broke down. Our beautiful, perfect baby had a congenital heart defect that would require open heart surgery somewhat emergently. The minutes following are somewhat of a blur, but my husband and I hurriedly took a crash course in cardiology, looking up transposition of the great arteries (TGA) and any information we could get our hands on. As soon as we learned that Hayes had a congenital heart defect, I knew we had to be transferred to Texas Children’s Hospital. In what seemed to be mere minutes, the amazing Kangaroo Crew was there to transport Hayes to Texas Children’s. From the moment they stepped into my room, I had the utmost confidence in the entire team. In the worst possible situation, I knew that he was going to be in the best possible hands.
Our first few days in the NICU at Texas Children’s were frightening and an emotional rollercoaster – Hayes’ sats were low and his right lung partially collapsed. At just one-day-old, Dr. Henri Justino, cardiologist and director of the cardiac catheterization lab, performed a balloon septostomy on Hayes which provided temporary relief, but we knew surgery was still necessary for Hayes to survive. At just a week old, Hayes underwent open heart surgery with Dr. Charles D. Fraser, chief of congenital heart surgery and surgeon-in-chief, to repair his TGA. The surgical team was top notch and all of his nurses pre- and post-surgery were absolutely phenomenal.
His follow-up visits with Texas Children’s Heart Center cardiologists have all been positive and now we are seen in clinic every six months. It’s crazy to think about how quickly everything happened, but the care we received at Texas Children’s was spectacular. As you walk through the halls, the positive energy is like nothing we have ever experienced and is completely contagious. We were actually conflicted about leaving, which is strange because it’s a hospital, but we’ve never felt so supported and made such a tight knit family so quickly.
Since the surgery, Hayes has been remarkable. He’s hitting all of his milestones and acting like a normal 2-month-old who never endured the touch-and-go moments of his first days of life. His sister and brothers adore their little caboose, and we couldn’t be more thankful to the entire Texas Children’s team for allowing us to complete our now healthy, happy family. The surgeons, nurses and amazing staff of Texas Children’s Hospital saved my baby’s life and we will be forever grateful.