The last article I posted was June 12. A few days later, I was in the hospital with my 8.5-month pregnant wife. The baby needed to come early, so “baby prep” week was replaced by “baby’s here” week.
As I discussed earlier this year, this particular baby wasn’t going to be a run-of-the-mill delivery. We had three separate teams of doctors and nurses positioned to handle different aspects of the delivery, immediate tests, and transportation directly to the NICCU. His heart had challenges. There was a hole in the wall separating the ventricles. His aorta and pulmonary artery were transpositioned. We’ve known for months that he may not survive and even if he did, he would always have obstacles.
Our cardiologist was absolutely wonderful. She barely even mentioned abortion and after realizing very quickly that it wasn’t an option, she never mentioned it again. After doing some research, I learned that it’s not uncommon for people to have abortions when their preborn child is faced with the type of circumstance our child faced. Obviously, I’m very opposed to this notion. Who are we to determine whether another human, even a preborn child, should not be allowed to live a life, even a hard one?
The delivery was long and tedious, but once he finally made his appearance everything went into double-time. My wife saw him briefly before the baby and I were whisked away through an underground tunnel to Children’s Hospital of Orange County. He had to be monitored closely, tested profusely, and examined constantly. We needed to make decisions about his immediate future. There were several possible ways to address his heart.
The next day, an unexpected option became available. Dr. Vaughn A. Starnes, made famous for performing the life-saving operation on Jimmy Kimmel’s son, took a look at the test results and accepted our son to get the “all-in-one” operation (my term, as I don’t recall the names of the various procedures performed). This meant that the doctor could fix his valves, the hole in his heart, and switch the aorta and pulmonary artery in one operation. Not only would this allow fewer operations, but would give him the best chance of a relatively “normal” life.
There were major risks. To do the operation, his heart would be stopped, all of the blood would be drained, and his body temperature would need to be dropped to preservation levels. In essence, he would have to be made physically lifeless for hours while repairs were made. Then, he’d have a large hole in his chest that would remain open for a few days while swelling went down.
As a parent, it all sounded extremely terrifying. We discussed it, then prayed, then made our decision. Little Jacob was in a helicopter and on his way to Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles within the hour.
After a month living in East Hollywood tag-teaming it with my wife and the wonderful nursing staff there, we finally brought our son home. He’s like any normal newborn other than the large scar on his chest and an affinity for being held even more than most newborns. We couldn’t be more thankful.
We’re all faced with tough choices when our children are at risk. If they can be saved pain and challenges through abortion, many may see that as sad but better than the alternative. I can tell you from experience that being with little Jacob, watching him smile, and knowing he’s God’s creation affirms our decision. I couldn’t imagine life without him, now. I hope those in similar situations can experience the same blessings we’ve received.