Today is a very special day for our family. Nine years ago we gave birth to a son who had a major heart defect that was not detected before he was born and struggling to breathe. I remember having a very surreal feeling in the delivery room as I pushed aside any thoughts that something was wrong. A couple of our babies had a little trouble breathing at birth, so I chalked it off, thinking that he would have a good cry, clear out his lungs and all would be well.
A few hours later, after Silas had been monitored for awhile, the ultrasound team was brought in to do an echo cardiogram. As the doctor sat in front of me explaining this serious heart defect, tears were streaming down my face. I couldn’t believe this was happening after 7 healthy children and a very healthy pregnancy. We were reassured that after open heart surgery, Silas would go on to live a normal life. So at 3 days old, our tiny little guy(6 lb 5 oz) was wheeled down for a 6 1/2 hour surgery. I remember praying over him in the wee hours of the morning in NICU the day of his surgery. Looking at his perfect little body and knowing that his tiny little chest would never look the same. I remember whispering Psalm 23 over him and stroking his sweet little face. They told me that there was no way to prepare for what he would look like post surgery and they were right. “A train wreck” is what they said it would feel like and, yes, they were right.
The first time I saw him, it was too much to take in all at once. After a few minutes I broke down sobbing and couldn’t seem to stop. I felt like God was asking too much of me. I didn’t have what it took to walk through this. I told my husband that I wanted to go home the next morning. I just wanted to hold our seven healthy children and be reminded that not ALL had gone awry in life. But the next morning, when my OB visited, he looked me in the eyes and said, “As parents, sometimes we have to do very hard things. Your baby NEEDS you right now. He knows when you are there.” He told me to pray and ask God for strength and go see Silas(who was on another floor in the hospital), talk to him and touch him, then rest and pray and do it again. So that’s what I did. I was terrified to go by myself. I couldn’t bear the thought of breaking down, sobbing again, with no one I knew around me. The blessing of friends and family who were brave enough to go with me to visit Silas was indescribable. Not only that, they seemed to instinctively know what to say. They NEVER talked about how awful he looked. They just pointed out his cute little fingers and toes and talked about how much he looked like his brothers and sisters. It was “normal” conversation about this precious little boy, who, although he was sick, was still our little guy…the birth of a new life and something to be celebrated! They also brought little outfits and gifts and gave me a baby “shower” of sorts right in my hospital room. All of this was balm to my soul.
As Silas started to recover, there were complications: kidney failure, fluid build up and, to make a long story short, instead of going home in 3-4 weeks, he was in the hospital for 2 months. My husband was wise enough to see a need for a “new normal” schedule right off the bat and we worked out a routine that would allow me to spend some time with our other children(who were ages 2-13) in the mornings and then head to the hospital (an hour away) for the afternoon and into the evening, if necessary. I remember sobbing on my way to the hospital as I left our other children at home and sobbing on the way back home as I left Silas at the hospital.
Finally, about 6 weeks into all of this, after Silas had been near death several times, one of the surgeons told me they had to do another surgery to correct what they thought the problem might be. It didn’t involve another heart surgery, but they had to break his little ribs, ligate his thoracic duct and rough up one of his lungs that was collapsing. He told me that if he could actually find his thoracic duct(he had never done this surgery on such a small baby) and do everything they intended to do, we would know in 24 hours whether or not it worked. In other words, whether or not Silas would survive.
Over the course of those weeks, there were a few times that God was asking me to fully surrender Silas’ life to Him. To be willing to give Silas back to Him. I did that in my heart(with much struggle) and immediately God would reassure me that we weren’t going to lose him, but we would have to be patient and TRUST.
When the doctor gave me this news that sounded so grim, my spirit was actually lifted up because, somehow, I knew THIS WAS IT. This was what God was working toward: making Silas a miracle that could only be explained as God intervening and rescuing.
Within 24 hours, Silas’ improvement was dramatic and 2 weeks later we brought him home. I wish I could show you the faces of our 7 children as our family was reunited! There were tears of joy and an excitement that cannot be explained. It was still awhile before Silas was off a feeding tube and nursing full time, but God had been faithful bring our little boy back to us!
I know that these situations don’t always turn out the way that we want and there are many mommies out there who didn’t get to keep their precious little ones. My heart aches for you and I wonder how each day would be so different for us if Silas were not with us. I pray a huge covering of God’s grace over you. You are a testimony to the rest of us that God is truly enough.
This is Silas at our daughter’s wedding last March.