A Broken Heart {#FTSF}

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We all have amazing bodies… I can tell you about giving birth to four children, losing and gaining weight, withstanding sports injuries, and even the fact that most of my scars are barely visible. But I’m not.

Today, I’m going to share a story of one beautiful child’s body.

This story of a newborn… His mom’s labor was uneventful… as uneventful as a labor can be, until a fever kicked in and the risk to having a VBAC was putting both of them at risk. After contemplation and discussion, a second cesarean was performed on the mom and a beautiful baby boy popped out.

This was no ordinary baby boy. This boy had hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which means he was born with an underdeveloped left side of the heart, basically the left side is non-existent.


Luckily the mother knew about this condition, and was prepared. She was prepared as you could be knowing that her child would have open heart surgery on day seven of life. The mother was told that her child would need three surgeries, each of which have a 25% fatality rate, throughout his life. He would not play sports, he would likely not be an active child. Even if the surgeries were a success, a host of other related problems could occur:

  • Blockage of the artificial shunt
  • Serious infections
  • Chronic diarrhea (from a disease called protein-losing enteropathy)
  • Fluid in the abdomen (ascites) and in the lungs (pleural effusion)
  • Heart failure
  • Irregular, fast heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
  • Strokes and other nervous system complications
  • Sudden death

This baby spent his life in the NICU (newborn intensive care unit), being cared for by nurses, and being visited by his own parents.

The early days

As planned, on day seven, his skin and rib cage were opened from neck to belly button in order to access the heart. The surgery was seven hours… and his parents patiently waited in another room. His broken heart was repaired but not whole.

The surgery was a success! A stint was placed in his heart so that the right side would be able to do the functions of both sides. He looked peaceful in his bed, with his chest pulled apart, a piece of plastic covering the opened area, as the swelling decreased. He was mostly sedated and on a breathing machine, but otherwise did not struggle. All of this was normal.

post op

As the days and weeks passed, his rib cage fused, the staples holding the two pieces together could be removed and the skin sewn back together.

He was all one again… yet he was more than one. He was my son. He lived a total of seven weeks, but his body endured more than most do in a lifetime.

the final days

Read more HERE.

This is the first year that I did not remember him on the day of his passing. I don’t yet know how I feel about that. I miss him dearly and wish I could hold him one last time.

Remembering Alexander ~ June 1, 2007-July 24, 2007

This has been another edition of Finish the Sentence Friday.


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