Last Thanksgiving was the worst Thanksgiving I have ever had. My husband and I got up and dressed in the morning and headed to the NICU to spend some precious time with our four-day-old son, Baby Walt and had planned to come back and do our best to enjoy the rest of the day with our daughters and family.
Walter was born with a very rare congenital heart defect of which he had an incredibly severe case, one we were not aware of until his birth.
There is a particular and acute pain that comes from being separated from your newborn baby.
We were standing next to his little plastic bed, trying to find a bare spot of skin to touch amid the wires, tubes, and monitors that covered most of his little body. He was heavily sedated, but still responsive. I was standing next to him, stroking his wild baby hair, studying him, trying to learn our newest family member when every alarm, light, and monitor lit up. His big heart had fallen into arrhythmia, again.
I stepped back as nurses rushed to his bed side. We stood in the corner, trying to stay out of the way and watched what was at least a dozen medical personnel try several times to shock his little heart back into a normal rhythm. I don’t remember how many tries it took, but it was a lot, and it was one of the worst things I’ve ever had to watch. They were finally successful. I texted our family, asking them to pray, knowing they would stop, join hands, and go before the Lord on our son’s behalf. And they did.
While we were standing in the corner, watching the horror unfold before us, a mom I had not yet met came over and began to pray with me. She spoke peace over me and encouraged me to continue standing in faith and seeking the Lord. Told me there would be more trials, and to keep my eyes not on the circumstances, but on Jesus. I don’t remember her name and I never saw her again, but I will never, ever forget her.
Baby Walt’s little chest was red from the shock panel, but he was stabilized once more. We loved on him, prayed over him and returned home in tears, without saying a word. It was night time. I was glad Baby Walt was alive and fighting. I was glad the battle was not ours, but the Lord’s. I knew God was taking care of my baby and that even though I couldn’t hold him, angels were comforting him. But leaving was always heartbreaking.
After a few horrifying weeks in the NICU, things took a turn for the worse and Walter’s doctors moved him to the PICU. On December 9th, Walt joined the zipper club and had heart surgery. Surgery which could not have gone better (according to the surgical team who was a-mazing). Miracle after miracle after miracle and he came home to us in time for the new year.
When he was born, we were told Walt might not make it through the night. But he did. Then we were told his heart might not be able to function properly. But after a little snip and tuck, it did. Then we were told he wasn’t waking up and they were concerned about neurological damage, but he woke up and was more active than they would’ve liked. Then we were told his lungs might not work as they should and he might need a respirator indefinitely. But he didn’t. Last it was trouble eating and a call from a doctor on Christmas Eve explaining the potential need for a permanent feeding tube. Walt now weighs almost 30 pounds and eats almost as much as his four-year-old sister. We celebrated his first birthday Tuesday.
He’s walking, trying to talk, had his first real haircut (during his hospital stay half his head was shaved to make way for a PICC line and so his hair has been exceptionally wild up until this week) and is truly, the happiest, sweetest baby. He’s going to be a climber and gets frustrated that he hasn’t quite figured out how to jump, though he has figured out how to circumvent the baby gates, so that makes the work day super fun. He only becomes vexed when he’s ready to eat or sleep and then is easily satisfied. He loves music, veggie straws, his sisters, clapping, being outside playing, and Baby Einstein is his jam. He is all smiles all the time, and I mean alllllllll the time. He is sunshine in tiny human form.
It’s common for cardiac babies to struggle gaining weight and miss developmental milestones. Walt hasn’t dealt with either. He’s a giant, walking baby! But that’s how God works. His blessings are exceedingly abundant. Walt’s not just well, he’s very well.
Our last cardiologist visit went great. “I can’t believe this is the same kid,” said his doctor, “his heart sounds great.” They’ve pulled Walt off of all medicines and we’ll go back next month to ensure he’s fine without them. (SPOILER: he’s fine without them.)
There are still a few things they’re monitoring, but we continue to stand in faith and declare complete healing and wholeness over our son who is a walking miracle and a testament to God’s goodness in ALL things. There is so much more and are (present tense intentional as this seems to be an ongoing miracle) so many more miracles big and small throughout all of this. Every step of the way provision was made supernaturally and everything we needed — whether it was material, spiritual, financial, or otherwise, was just… there. Baby Walt’s arrival sparked a shaking in our everything and the result has been truly incredibly for our entire family.
Before we had to rush to the operating room for an emergency c-section, I knew something was wrong and I began to pray. I was reminded of Jesus napping during a storm while He and His disciples were out to sea. His disciples flipped out, woke Jesus up, and Jesus reminded them that everything was fine and for them, He calmed the storm. He was literally in the same boat. I knew that while we were headed into a storm, the Lord was with us. I prayed and gave my son to the Lord and entrusted Baby Walt into His care.
Right after he was born, Baby Walt was life-flighted to the NICU in the medical center (I was in a hospital on the other side of town), I asked my Aunt to write “Psalm 91“, not the entire passage, but simply “Psalm 91” on a piece of paper and asked her to tape that piece of paper on Walt’s tiny little plastic box bed. She did. That piece of paper — dirty, crumpled, and worn, stayed on his bed until he was moved out of the PICU in preparation for coming home in a recovery that was marked with one miracle after another after another. It was with him to, through, and after surgery. Walt and his recovery are an incredible miracle.
When I visited Baby Walt, I prayed over him, anointed his tiny little head with oil, and took communion with him, often times with a saltine cracker and a sip of water because it’s what I had with me. I read the Bible to him and over him. Psalms mostly and then the story of David in 1 Samuel.
Patience and rest, true rest in the Lord, are hard lessons to learn and lessons that are quickly forgotten as they require surrender and trust, but they are not just a better way of living, they are THE way of living.
Parenthood is a humbling honor and I consider myself tremendously blessed to be this little man’s Momma, even if it’s hard knowing he is not mine, but the Lord’s.
Baby Walt’s life so far has been characterized by hope, joy, and strength that can only be found in our Heavenly Father. Typing through tears as I’m thrilled to be able to celebrate his first birthday, especially when there was a time where every hour alive was a marked accomplishment.
All praise and glory be to our Lord Jesus who is faithful, loving, kind, just, and good in ALL things.
This Thanksgiving, Baby Walt will be with us (I bet he’ll loooooove the sweet potato casserole) in the high chair he’s almost outgrown, wearing his fancy duds.
I am forever humbled and grateful that we serve a God whose love is so big, so grand. His heart, grace, and care for us are infinite. That Jesus loved us so much, he was willing to be beaten beyond recognition for our healing and willfully gave His life in exchange for ours.
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for you. So many of you (readers and the LI team — who were truly amazing in support, well-wishes, and prayer) prayed for our son and for us. There were days, sometimes multiple times a day where I would read through the comments on those early blog posts about Baby Walt to steel myself against doubt. So many of you cared enough to reach out and let me know you and your communities were praying for us. Never in my life have I seen the body of Christ work in such a mighty way, and all for our baby. Thousands of people around the world were praying for our baby and our family and we are forever grateful, humbled, and thankful.
The same God who worked miracles in our son loves and adores you so very much. He will not rest until He’s able to show His love and kindness to you. All you need do is receive.
And so on this Thanksgiving, I leave you with this from Psalms 107:20-22:
20 He sent out his word and healed them;
he rescued them from the grave.
21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings
and tell of his works with songs of joy.
Thank you for praying for our son and for us. We thank you and we love you. May the God of glory rest on you and in you and may you find his rest and love this Thanksgiving.DONATE
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