M son Trent, as it seemed, was born a healthy baby boy on November 30, 2010. He seemed so small compared to his big brother Stephan, so we nicknamed him Peanut. We were thrilled to add yet another boy to our family. However, he came during a rough time for us. My husband, Tim, had just had a total hip replacement at the ripe age of 31, and my Grandpa, who meant the world to me, was on a ventilator in the hospital. Trent’s arrival was a time of mixed emotions: rejoicing because God blessed us with another son and heavy-hearted due to our trials. Still, we cherished those moments with him, as he brought our family so much joy during a time where there was much sorrow.
We were discharged from the hospital with no complications. Where most babies lose weight the first week, Trent’s one-week checkup went great and he was already gaining weight. At home he had a great appetite and slept well, so we were alarmed when we received some shocking news from his pediatrician at his five-week checkup. During the routine checkup, the doctor said, “His forehead looks a little purple.” I responded with, “I have that darker pigmented forehead too. It’s our skin tone.” He replied, “I’m going to check his oxygen.” So he put the pulse oximeter (an instrument which measures oxygen levels in your blood) on my little Peanut’s finger. As I watched the readings, my heart dropped! Being a nurse, I knew that normal levels were 95–100 and Trent’s were reading 62, 63, 61….
I immediately thought, “What is going on here? He’s eating, sleeping, and not straining for oxygen.” The doctor referred us to a pediatric cardiologist in town. At that point he had said nothing except, “You need to go there right now.” My parents and I headed to the pediatric cardiologist immediately. The doctor took Trent into a room to perform an echo of his heart. I remember staring at the screen, not knowing what he was looking for, but trying to figure it out. He said nothing during the entire procedure and it felt like a lifetime. He then went to his office and shut the door. While he was in there I could tell he was making phone calls but I couldn’t hear what he was saying. We were waiting patiently for some kind of answer. About ten minutes later, the cardiologist came out and looked at my mom and me, and said, “Your son has Tetralogy of Fallot; he needs to go to Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital (LLUCH) right now! The NICU is full, so I’m going to send you to Riverside Community so the nurses can get him prepped for transfer to LLUCH.”
At that point, I knew something was serious and called Tim to meet us at Riverside Community. There they inserted IVs into Trent, and then transported him via ambulance to LLUCH. As Tim and I were driving we just kept praying to God, as we needed His strength and guidance. We didn’t know what the doctors at LLUCH were going to tell us, but we knew that only God would see Trent through it all. As we arrived into the NICU, it seemed surreal. It was heartbreaking having to scrub up and get donned in a gown so I could hold my own baby that seemed just fine at home a few hours ago. The surgeon came in and discussed with us that our five-week-old baby boy would need multiple open heart surgeries to fix the four problems in his heart. Our hearts sank. I remember the pain and tears in Tim’s eyes. It was heartbreaking to me. As a nurse, we have a “bedside manner” about us. We have to be strong for the patient and for the family. This time, the family was my husband and the patient was my own son, my Peanut.
Trent was started on IV medications which made him feel achy. He would moan, groan, and be restless. This carried on for five days as we waited patiently for his surgery date. During that time, I would go into a special room to pump. It was in that rocking chair that my tears would flow. I had the privacy and quiet time that I needed with God, to lean on Him for His strength. He was my Comforter, and my Friend to talk to in the middle of the night, while I held my baby boy.
Trent’s surgery was performed by one of the top pediatric cardiologists. This was completely God’s plan because Tim and I didn’t have any connections in the “surgeon” business, and we received the top doctor! A few months prior, Tim had met a guy through a mutual friend. His name was Brooks. What we didn’t know was that Brooks had a dad named Leonard Bailey (who performed the first-ever successful neonatal heart transplant in history, in 1984 at LLUCH). This was God’s plan, for us to meet Brooks. Brooks then introduced his dad, Dr. Bailey, to us and he ended up performing the open heart surgery on Trent. That was a miracle. We felt extra comfort, knowing that God had put people in our lives for reasons like this. We now had the best for our best, our little Peanut. The surgery lasted for four hours and they were able to do a complete repair of all four problems. This was another miracle. Five days ago, we were told there would be numerous surgeries during his first year of life to fix all four problems, and now, by the grace of God, they were all fixed.
I remember walking into his recovery room and seeing my baby with 15 different lines connected to a central line in his little neck. There were little lines plugged into him everywhere there could be. This was done to slowly bring his heart back to full speed. Day by day, less and less lines were needed and Trent was becoming more alert and would even give me a half smile to reassure me that he was okay. I remember sitting in the rocking chair, making sure not to tug at any IV lines, reading my Prayers for Mothers book that my mom gave me, and reminding myself of God’s promises.
Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
After seven days of recovery on the fifth floor at LLUCH, we were able to bring Trent home. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
I wanted to share this story to encourage mothers of all ages. We all have different struggles with our children. Some of you may be new mommies, with infants in diapers. Some of you may have children beginning to stray, and some of you may have children with children. We all may be in different places, but know that God has us right where He wants us. It can be frustrating and difficult at times with our children, but we must remind ourselves that God is their heavenly Father. He loves them and protects them more than we ever can. This is very comforting for me because, when I have those “not-so-good” mommy moments, I can lean on Him to help me through it. I do this by being in His Word every morning, which reminds me of His promises and His hope.
2 Corinthians 4:16–18 says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
This verse has encouraged me for years by reminding me to not lose heart during the rough mommy moments, but to look to God, for these light troubles are preparing us for eternal glory. Just like with Trent. Yes, that was a hard time for our family, but God has worked in our lives through it; it has taught us to lean on Him more. Trent is now three years old and will have one more open heart surgery, and a few less-invasive surgeries over his lifetime. He is a healthy and loving little boy who loves Jesus. His favorite song is, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.” And what joy he does have in his little heart that God has repaired! It has opened up new opportunities for me to provide for my family with my “Miracle Baby” tees and to reach out and minister to other mommies who have their own miracle baby stories.