It’s been one month. One month since the trauma that led us to the ER that led us to heart surgery.
I found Olsen blue and barely breathing after being covered with blankets by a “helpful sibling” during his nap. We called 911 and he was rushed to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. My text sent to 10 people, “Please pray. Headed to hospital via ambulance with Olsen. More later”.
In the ER, the nurses couldn’t find a pulse in the lower half of Olsen’s body so they ordered an EKG, which then showed an abnormality of his heart and an ECHO was ordered. During that ultrasound, it was determined that he had a coarctation of the aorta and needed surgery the next day. Apparently we all have a valve in our heart that closes upon birth, Olsen’s did not. This is why he survived so long with the narrowing in his aorta, because that PDA valve never shut and was compensating for the narrowing. This valve however, had almost completely shut.
In the midst of all of this, my phone was blowing up with prayers from so many people near and far as my quick text to friends and family during the ambulance ride had travelled beyond my reach. Our dear pastor showed up to pray for baby Olsen before we were moved to ICU. Our community had banned together, spreading the word for needed prayer, it was quite humbling.
Olsen was placed on a medicine to keep the valve open until surgery the next day. He was also not allowed to eat for fear of too much stress on his gut that was already not receiving enough blood flow. What a long night. I spent most of it in the rocking chair next to his bed holding him to help him forget his hunger pains, and fervently praying for healing.
Now, remember why we were at the hospital in the first place... test definitely showed he was without sufficient oxygen for a period of time and he had carbon dioxide in his blood. We still didn’t have a good glimpse of our happy boy from that morning, I was so afraid damage had been done, but had no time to work through that as I was preparing my heart and mind for my 11 week old to undergo heart surgery.
The following morning, the nurse informed me that they had to reschedule a few surgeries because there were not enough beds or rooms, but because we were already there, we would have our surgery first thing that morning (insert praise hands). Less than 20 hours after we arrived, Olsen’s ICU room was filled with nurses and Drs prepping him and me for this big surgery. Andy had gone home the night before to be with the boys and get them to school before coming to the hospital, so I was doing this by myself.
I said my goodbyes and sat in the waiting room fighting back tears. Within minutes, two sweet friends showed up followed by my mom and then Andy. We sat and filled the time with stories and laughter to distract from the anxiety that flooded me. Our surgeon came out, surgery was a success. He shared with us that our little boy was covered in prayers - he received multiple texts during surgery from people who knew both him and us and were praying for everyone. 6 hours later we were reunited with Olsen. He was still asleep and had tubes and wires everywhere. When trying to remove his breathing tube, his heart rate dropped to the 20’s and they had to administer chest compressions, so they sedated him a little longer and waited till he woke to try again. Second time was a success. But, I still hadn’t seen “my baby” yet.
Our pastor visited again that afternoon and shared that he had received numerous phone calls from people asking if God was working something for good in their lives like he was doing with Olsen. He said our story is giving others hope. Insert ugly cry here...
The older boys came to visit one at a time, both asking a ton of questions, main one being “is he breathing okay” after remembering what brought us here to begin with. My parents so generously took them home for the remainder of our stay in the hospital and a week after coming home! What a blessing they were! That night, Andy went to our home and I remained in the hospital, which is how it played out the remainder of our stay.
The following days were full of milestones being met, moving to the “floor” as the hospital called it (we no longer were in the ICU), and stories from so many that showed Gods mercy and glory in our situation. I received emails from people I did not know, saying they had received a prayer request for our baby and telling us he was being covered in so many prayers. A friend visited Starbucks to pick out some goodies for us and told the barista she was visiting some friends at Vandy Children’s and he said “do they happen to have a little boy who just had heart surgery?” WHAAAAT? Our little warrior’s incident was traveling not only outside of our community but outside of our state. It was quite beautiful to feel all the prayers being said over Olsen and knowing that God was hearing his name over and over. Oh and huge milestone - he giggled for the FIRST TIME EVER, on MOTHERS DAY, and I captured it on video! God was there, gently telling me I had “my baby” back completely and there would be no residual harm from the suffocation.
I spoke with Olsen’s cardiologist soon after surgery and asked her how long she would have given him had we not come in that day... she said “hours to days”. His PDA valve had almost completely closed up, had this happened, his organs would have started shutting down and things would have been REALLY bad. God used our sweet oldest child to get our attention to get Olsen help. I could have found Olsen minutes after he had been covered and fixed the situation and moved on with my day, but no, God kept me from noticing till Olsen was blue so we would call 911 and get to the right place (not just taking him to the dr, but the ER) to have this condition discovered before it was too late. We also found out that he as a bicuspid aorta instead of a tricuspid which will also have to be monitored throughout the years.
Y’all, His goodness was ALL OVER THIS. From how it was discovered, to the fact that we were already at Vandy, to the fact that we would have surgery because we had a bed, to our surgeon being in a bible study with friends of ours and having people praying directly over him and his hands while in surgery, to a barista knowing and feeling our situation, to whole churches throughout the country praying for Olsen, to multiple drs throughout the hospital hearing our story and stopping in to see us. There was absolutely no room for “what if’s”. Gods perfectly created plan was laid out before us and it could not have happened any differently.
I write all this abridged version for two reasons... one being, so many of you have asked to hear it, secondly, I need it, to remember it . I need to have it to look back on when I start doubting the glorious and sovereign God we have. I need it when I forget that the path God has set before us is the PERFECT path, no matter how frightening and or sad it may be, this is the path we were meant for, and I will find joy in that.
While in the hospital one day, I opened my bible and fell on this verse... “ But now, this is what the Lord says - he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not get burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.’” - Isaiah 43: 1-3
I also have held this scripture close... “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.’” - Jeremiah 29: 11-12
It’s been one month since this all happened, and I’m happy to report that Olsen has made a full recovery (both from surgery and “incident”) other than his heart is still trying to function at a normal level which will just take a little more time. We now move forward with more appointments to further monitor his heart. The other boys will also have an ultrasound of their hearts as this condition is genetic.
Prayers were in abundance during that week and we felt every last one of them. “Prayer is the best armor against all trials.” THANK YOU!