In our pre-session consultation, mom mentioned a scar of Luke's chest that she did not want to be edited out. During our session, we chatted about the scar and Luke's big story behind it. His mom was telling me about his major surgery to correct a heart defect all while I was watching this happy, strong little boy play on my studio bed - it was absolutely amazing. I think we under estimate the strength of little ones sometimes and Luke's story will prove just how much fight they have in them.
Luke is only 9 months old but he's endured more physical trials already in his time on earth than most people have in a lifetime. When I was 20 weeks pregnant, we found out our sweet baby was a boy!! We weren't shocked but still so excited- we had a feeling all along that he would be a boy and we couldn't have been more thrilled to see him in the ultrasound that day. It was such a joyous moment but was quickly followed by one of the scariest and dumbfounding moments of our lives. We were called into my OB's office to be told that our son had a congenital heart defect. It felt like a huge blow to the stomach. What in the world was this lady talking about? Nothing like this runs in either of our families. I was having a totally normal and healthy pregnancy so far. How could this be happening? We had so many questions and no answers. It was surreal walking out of the office that day.
It's hard to explain but my husband and I (after crying with each other for several minutes) felt total peace about the situation. We prayed and asked God to take hold of the situation. There was literally nothing we could do to help our baby boy or to mend his heart. It was completely out of our control, which is a pretty sickening feeling. But at that moment, we chose to trust God and rely on Him to be our help.
The rest of my pregnancy was normal. I went in for extra checkups to make sure the baby was doing okay and he always was.. but the heart defect was still present every time they checked. Fast forward to June 17, 2016.. we welcomed our first born son to the world! What a precious and memorable day!
Within the first 24 hours of his life, his heart was checked several times by different doctors and pediatric cardiologists to confirm the heart defect. Still there. His diagnosis: ventricular septal defect or VSD. Basically, Luke had a giant hole in his heart. We were told initially that he would require surgery immediately after birth.. but God, being rich in mercy, spared him from that. We were able to take Luke home from the hospital 2 days later and treat him like a normal newborn. Such an amazing answer to prayer! Over the next several months, we became very familiar with MUSC and the pediatric cardiology department. Dr. Kim McHugh is a true gem and has cared for our baby since his first week of life. He was monitored closely by cardiology and also by his pediatrician. We were told that he probably wouldn't gain weight very well, he would be lethargic, he wouldn't feed well, he would have trouble breathing due to blood back-flowing into his lungs.. the list went on and on. But once again, God so rich in mercy, spared our sweet Luke from all of these symptoms. Every time we went for a cardiology appointment, they would do an ultrasound on his heart only to tell us that his VSD was very large and would eventually require surgery. That his body wouldn't be able to keep up and would start going downhill. But let me tell you, you would literally have never known by looking at him on the outside that his little heart was suffering on the inside. The doctors were absolutely amazed every time they saw him. We had comments such as, "Wow! He is totally proving us wrong with everything we said about him!" They couldn't believe how well he was doing- gaining weight and basically showing no signs or symptoms of having progressive heart failure.
We continued this routine for 5 1/2 months. At that time, Dr. McHugh said we should go ahead and schedule surgery before he turned 6 months old in order to prevent complications for him later in life. So on December 13, we admitted our sweet boy to MUSC. He had open heart surgery and Dr. Kavarana successfully repaired not just one, but THREE holes in our son's heart. We weren't even aware that the other 2 were there! They found them during his post-operative work up and we weren't even told about it. Dr. K said Luke's VSD was the largest one he's ever seen in that region of the heart. To think that our son was thriving and living life with three holes in his heart brought us to our knees and we could not and cannot stop thanking the Lord for his precious life. Seeing our baby in the cardiac ICU for the first time was probably the worst moment of my life. Tubes were coming out of every where- mouth, nose, chest.. it was a horrific sight for this mama. His face was swollen, eyes puffy, chest covered in a huge bandage, and there was even dried blood around his neck. It was almost more than I could bear. But looking at him, knowing that his heart had been made whole, was a precious sight.
The Lord had been so faithful to us. He used the hands of a surgeon to heal our son and we are forever grateful. The following days in the hospital were rough- I won't lie about that. Seeing our baby in such a pathetic, sickly state was extremely hard. I probably cried more in that week than I ever have in my life. Having my husband, family, and church friends surrounding us was priceless. We truly felt God's love poured out on us through the love and support of everyone.
We finally took our baby home and began the process of returning to "normal". It took a while to adjust but Luke proved again how strong he is and how faithful God is in our lives. By just three days after returning home, Luke was totally back to his normal self. We continue follow up appointments with cardiology and just recently got the "all clear". Luke's heart is no longer enlarged and his heart function is completely normal. For the first time in his life, he has a "normal" heart (with a few patches on the inside). :)
The long scar on his chest is a daily reminder of so many things for us... primarily that God is faithful and so loving and hears our prayers and delights in giving good gifts to his children. He is our Healer and the bearer of our burdens. It has been a long trial for us but we are so glad to be on this side of surgery and finished with all of the close monitoring. What a joy Luke is to us! His life is only more precious and priceless having been through all of this. I would never want to relive it or wish it on anyone else, but if God chose to place us in a similar trial again, we would rely on his grace and his unfailing love to get us through it again. He is our all in all and we thank him daily for his mercies on our lives and our son's life. What an amazing story Luke will have to share for the rest of his life!
And like my husband likes to jokingly say, "chicks dig scars".
Thank you so much for allowing me to share Luke's story. Like we talked about, I hope your family's story and strength can help someone else who may have just received similar news. And I agree with your husband, I do dig his scar.