A Heart for God

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Did you know 1 in 110 babies are born with a congenital heart defect (CHD)? It’s the most common birth defect. I’m one of those babies.

Because sonograms were not routinely performed when my mom was pregnant, at my birth no one could have known that eight hours later I’d crash and end up fighting for my life. My heart didn’t have a pulmonary valve.

The way God designs babies in utero, a baby’s heart’s circulatory pattern is different because it is not using the baby’s lungs to get oxygen. Over the first few hours of a baby’s life the heart adjusts into a new flow pattern using the lungs.

For me, that meant I started turning blue because my heart and lungs didn’t connect properly. I had heart surgery at 24-hours old, 30-days old, and miraculously survived to leave the hospital at 40-days-old. I came back for another heart surgery at 2.5-years old too.

Since then, there have been so many advances in medical technology. If I was born today, the crazy thing is that my story would probably be very different.

On the wonderful side of those advancements, many CHDs are found before a baby is even born. This allows doctors to come up with a plan on how they will treat the baby. While there can still be unexpected surprises, unlike my story, parents and doctors expect a child to need immediate emergency medical treatment. On the other hand, the downside to medical advances is that some use diagnostic sonograms to suggest babies lives will be compromised and, therefore, should be ended early by abortion.

I am a member of a support group for people with my exact diagnosis. Every few weeks, we have new parents join that have just been told their child has the same CHD I have. Some are only 24-weeks pregnant and others already have newborns. Most are scared and worried. Many have had doctors suggest they terminate their pregnancies.

It is such a wonderful gift to share with them how a “normal” life is possible. I’ve been able to grow up, get married, and have three kids of my own. Yes, my heart is different and will never be “cured.” Yes, after my second child, I had symptomatic heart failure and, at 35-years old, I was FINALLY given a pulmonary valve via Open Heart surgery.

Even with health struggles (and some have a much more difficult path than myself), I get to encourage new parents, telling them that their kid is so worth it! One’s worth is not defined by if they are healthy or not. Every life is precious. Honestly, from a Christian perspective, I’m thankful for how my heart defect has required me to trust God. I have the advantage within my weakness of knowing I’m not in control of my health. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

For more information, email thelifeinitiative@watermark.org. If you’re experiencing a similar diagnosis and presented with abortion, contact our friends at HopeStory.org or AbelSpeaks.org.