I’m that mom who truly enjoys being pregnant. My three other pregnancies had gone so smoothly. But things were just a little bit different the fourth time around – with Wyatt. Halfway through my pregnancy, his doctors explained to us that he would need heart surgery to survive. Five short weeks later, my husband and I, with our three children, packed up our home and moved across the country from California to Cincinnati to get the care that would save Wyatt’s life. Looking back, it was a lot to handle, but we would do it all over again because of the care we received at Cincinnati Children’s.
Life-changing News Prompts Life-changing Choices
In April of 2020, my husband, Regan, and I went for a 20-week anatomy scan with our doctor in Hermosa Beach, California, where we lived at the time. At the appointment, my doctor noticed a hole called a ventricular septal defect (VSD) in our baby’s heart and referred us to a specialist.
When they did our echocardiogram, right away the doctor said he saw the VSD. But he also discovered a coarctation of the aorta, which meant Wyatt’s aorta was pinched and blood would not be able to get out to the rest of his body.
He looked me in the eye and said, “Your little boy is going to need surgery within a week or so of being born.”
We were terrified. We wanted the best for Wyatt so he could live and have a good life. That’s when my husband and I started researching top heart hospitals and realized Cincinnati Children’s was our best option for a variety of reasons.
Experience, Expertise and Compassion
We decided to bring Wyatt from California to Cincinnati Children’s because of the team of talented surgeons and cardiologists. Their experience and expertise in the field are second to none and knowing that helped put me at ease. The ability for Wyatt to be cared for by his cardiologist in utero into his childhood and throughout his adult life at the Heart Institute was also a benefit.
The second reason we made the move was for the Fetal Heart Program that provided care throughout my pregnancy and right after delivery. At other hospitals, once Wyatt was born, we would have been separated and he would have been taken to another facility immediately. But the Fetal Heart Program and the Cincinnati Children’s Fetal Care Center made it possible for me to give birth at Cincinnati Children’s in the Special Delivery Unit and keep him nearby while he got the care he needed.
One Minute of Snuggles then Straight to the CICU
The whole delivery experience was amazing because of the attentiveness and care from the nurses and laborist. They truly went above and beyond to make me feel comfortable. After a smooth delivery, I got to do one minute of snuggles before Wyatt was taken to the cardiac intensive care unit (CICU), just an elevator ride away. Knowing that he was as close to us as possible really helped ease our hearts, and I was able to rest and recover from childbirth, knowing he was getting the best care possible.
Wyatt spent several days in the CICU where his care team monitored him closely to make sure he was healthy enough to go into surgery. During that time, we got to know him by getting to hold him, bathe him, pray over him and just love him like all families get to do with their babies.
Surgery and Beyond
It’s not easy when your baby is taken away for open-heart surgery, but we were confident that he would survive thanks to the preparation of his team. When they did take Wyatt, the doctor gave me a hug and reassured my husband and me that they would take the best care of him. It felt good that they were so generous to us and loving to Wyatt.
Initially, they told us it could be four to six weeks before Wyatt would be healthy enough to leave the hospital. But he ended up doing so well in recovery and on the cardiac unit that after just 19 days we got to bring our little boy home. We will always be connected to the cardiology team at Cincinnati Children’s as Wyatt will need ongoing care for the rest of his life.
It wasn’t in our original plan to move across country, but we wanted to give Wyatt the best chance at life, and Cincinnati Children’s made it seamless for us. They were constantly asking if we needed anything before, during and after our stay – if we had housing accommodations, if we needed financial assistance, a social worker to help, or even just reminding us to take a break from the CICU and eat a meal. They made it easy for us in a stressful time.
Wyatt is now doing fantastic! We’re hoping that’s the last surgery that he will ever need, thanks to his surgeon and cardiology team. We are eternally grateful for his doctors and nurses for saving Wyatt’s life. They are my forever heroes. We feel so blessed to call Cincinnati Children’s our home hospital.
Photo Credit: That Photographer Frank
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