This morning as I started roll dough for our Christmas Eve dinner I couldn't help thinking about our day one year ago. Last year I started roll dough and then headed to a routine doctors appointment. That is where the day I had planned out ended. Our day went very different from what I had planned.
Our doctor just didn’t like the way the baby’s heart sounded that day. She asked me to go to the hospital and have them monitor the baby for awhile. I thought I would go for a little while and they would say everything was fine, and then I would go home and finish our Christmas Eve dinner. That wasn’t how our day turned out. I ended up spending a couple of hours on the monitors at the hospital and having a long ultrasound done. The results of the ultrasound were inconclusive. My doctor decided we should go to Billings to see a specialist. Neil and I left the children at home and headed to Billings. We had another more detailed ultrasound. The ultrasound took a long time, and the tech would tell us about everything she saw, except the baby’s heart. Whenever they looked at the heart they got very quiet. Finally the doctor came in to talk to us. He told us our baby had four potentially fatal heart defects. He suggested we do Christmas with our children and then leave to go to Salt Lake City to have our baby. It was a very emotional and difficult day. It was very hard to go home and tell our children.
We left on Saturday after Christmas. We were grateful that my parent’s live in the Salt Lake valley. We at least had a place to stay. After visiting with the specialists at University Hospital and Primary Children’s Medical Center we had a better view of what was coming for our baby. The doctors decided to induce labor so that there would be a team of cardiologists on hand when the baby was born. Labor was induced on December 31, 2008. Joshua Caldwell was born about 4:00 p.m. He weighed 6 pounds 8 ounces. He was immediately handed through the window to the ICU nursery. It was so hard to not even get to hold him!! We at least go to go see him briefly before he was walked across the bridge to Primary Children’s. It was so hard to let him go without even holding him once. He has such cute red hair, what a sweet baby he was. Our children had been planning for us to have the first baby of 2009 in Powell, but it didn’t turn out that way.
We finally got to go over to Primary Children’s about 9:00 that night. It felt so good to get to hold him. He was hooked up to IV’s and monitors so it was kind of hard to hold him. The doctors spent eight days watching him to see how he would do when his patent ductus closed. The patent ductus is an opening in the heart that usually closes within a few hours of birth. Joshua’s wasn’t closing. It had to be surgically closed and a shunt placed to carry the blood to his lungs. He had his first surgery on January 9th. I have never done anything as hard as handing him over to go to surgery!! I kissed his sweet forehead and told him goodbye. I wasn’t sure if I could handle it. It was a long and hard wait through surgery.
He never really stabilized after surgery. He had to have an emergency surgery on the 10th as the doctors said he was like an airplane flying at tree level and he couldn’t go any lower. It was a very difficult day. The surgery was successful and he looked so much better afterwards. His body had been over circulating. He was sending almost all his blood to his lungs and not out to his body. We witnessed a miracle in our family that night.Joshua ended up spending 5 weeks in Primary Children’s hospital. He had to have two more surgeries, one to close his chest and one on his intestines. Neil and Rebecca stayed until January 13th then they had to go back to Powell for work. The children stayed until the 27th then they came back to Powell. Joshua finally got to come home on February 3rd.
We faced many difficult things with Joshua's hospital stay and surgeries. We feel so blessed by the Lord. It has been an amazing year as I look back on it. Even though Christmas Eve and many days after didn't go as I had planned I can see the Lord's hand in our lives. Today as I reflect on last year I feel so grateful to have this sweet little boy here at home. I am so grateful for how much each of our children love Joshua. He truly is adored!! We truly are grateful for all of your prayers for out family and all the help, support, and love we received from you! Thank you!!! We truly have grown through this experience. So tonight as I listened to the beautiful music our children performed for Christmas Eve and enjoyed having Martha over for dinner I am thinking of last year. This year my day went as I had planned it to go last year. I am grateful for the Lord's blessings in our lives.