5 Things You Need To Know About Children With Congenital Heart Defects

“Look at your baby!” the Labor and Delivery nurse exclaimed.

My first child, a little girl, was here. I opened my eyes, which had been squeezed tightly shut during the final exhausted pushes of labor. I looked, and there was my baby being held near the foot of my bed. Her skin was a purplish hue and she was not crying.

That moment was instantaneous, and my daughter was whisked away into the corner of the room where the Level III NICU team had been set up and waiting for her birth. Everyone was prepared for her arrival. We had found out at my Anatomy Scan at 21 weeks that my baby was a girl, and almost immediately after that we were informed that she had a serious congenital heart defect (CHD).

Even though we had the tentative diagnosis, no one could be quite sure how serious things were until my daughter was born. We had to be prepared for anything. We chose to deliver at a hospital almost an hour away so we could be in the care of the highest level NICU team available. We had toured a pediatric cardiac unit in an out-of-state children’s hospital so we could be familiar with it when the time came. We did our research and said our prayers, but we could not be prepared emotionally for this.

As I watched the medical team work on my newborn, my thoughts raced:

“What is happening?”

“Is she ok?”

“Why isn’t she crying?”

The words that left my lips could not keep up with the questions running through my mind. The next thing I knew our baby was being rushed out of the delivery room to the neonatal intensive care unit that was on the floor below. The doctors and nurses surrounded her moving bassinet as they hand pumped a bag into her breathing tube. They paused only briefly with her by my bedside, just long enough to allow me only a quick glance, before hurrying on their way.

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