I had to share this letter that Neal wrote to our friends and family. He says things so much better than I can...I love him so!
I wanted to update you on the amazing story of our third son Luke Britton Watson.
After two miscarriages in 9 months we found out in April 2007 that Lindsay was pregnant again. We were not emotionally ready, but we had no choice but to trust God in the situation and look for strength in him. We were quiet and nervous until we got to the 14 week mark, and the doctors told us that all was good. We finally started telling everyone and started to relax a bit.
At the 20 week ultrasound we found out that we were having a boy, which we were very excited about, but we also found out that he had a very serious heart condition called Supra Ventricular Tachycardia. Simply put, this meant that his heart rate was erratic and would jump up to 250-280 beats per minute (that is REALLY fast). We were told to see a specialist immediately. We did some searching and found a pediatric cardiologist at Vanderbilt Hospital. Among other things, he told us that this was rare but in some cases it could heal itself. The scariest part was that his heart was working so hard that it could have caused him to have a heart attack at any time.
For 5 weeks Lindsay went to the doctor twice a week for check-ups and ultrasounds to see how it was progressing. We also sent out the word for prayer to most all of you. We found such amazing support, and I have to say, that I have never felt so cared for. Your prayers provided a literal feeling of protection that we had never experienced. At the cardiologist appointment in the 4th week we were told that it seemed the condition was lessening. The swelling in his heart was down and so was the fluid in the sack around the heart. This indicated that the strain on the heart was lessening. Two weeks later the cardiologist told us that it seemed the problem was completely gone. We were so thrilled and relieved. The doctor told us that he didn’t need to see us again until December when he would do one more check before delivery, which was set for January 15, 2008.
We were hopeful that the December appointment would verify with certainty that there were no problems and that he was healthy. Instead what we found was that the Tachycardia was in fact still non-existent, but there were two new potential problems that had not been found before. The cardiologist found that his aortic valve was too small or may have only had two leaflets instead of three, and there was a possible blockage in his aortic arch. The valve is a problem he could live with. He would have to be monitored but he could live his whole life with no surgery as long as the valve held up and stayed strong. However, the blockage would have required surgery in the first week to ten days. This was obviously hard to hear.
We thought we were going in for a simple check up and left being concerned that our newborn baby might require heart surgery in the first week of life. We were thankful that he was not in danger inutero, but the thought of surgery scared us. The cardiologist told us to go ahead and have a normal delivery at Baptist Hospital and that he instruct the nursing staff of what to watch for in the nursery. If symptoms were found there was a plan to care for him. When we were discharged from Baptist we were told to go straight to Vanderbilt for a scan of his heart to find out what needed to be dealt with.
On Monday the January 14, 2008 Lindsay and I went into Baptist Hospital at 6 a.m. to induce labor. For seven hours we watched as Lindsay’s blood pressure and Luke’s heart rate bounced around; both of which set off the computer alarm bringing in nurses and doctors in a slight panic. Lindsay’s epidural didn’t work for the first 3 hours so she was in considerable pain until they finally got that right. My eyes were glued on the equipment the entire time with my concern for both my wife and my unborn child.
I watched heart rates and blood pressures rise and fall. After a few hours of that, my stomach was in knots. I was concerned and torn in my prayers. I have always been very aware that I should ask for the desires of my heart. However, I never presume to know, better than God, what is right for me. So my prayers of request are always laced in a deep desire that if Gods desire for me is different than my own, that he override me regardless of human pain that may follow. I want what he wants. The only thing that got me through the day of delivery was the thought and prayer, “Your time, your way.” That was repeated in my headed hundreds of times during the day and this was the only thing that brought me peace through the entire week.
Finally at 1pm the doctor came in, saw that there had not been much progression and gave us the option for a C Section. Lindsay and I were both ready to have Luke out of danger and so we agreed. Around 2:30pm we went into the OR and at 2:43pm Luke Britton Watson cried his first cry. Lindsay and I were both so exhausted and yet so relieved that he was here and the first hurdle was behind us. The C Section went perfectly and Lindsay was back in recovery 30 minutes later. He was beautiful.
He was still crying so loud in the OR and the nurse asked if I would like to go to the nursery with him. As we started walking down the hall the nurse asked if I would like to hold him while we walked. I, of course, said yes. He had been screaming from his first breath, but within two seconds of being placed in my arms he stopped crying and opened his eyes and just stared at me. Now, most of you know me well enough to know that I am not one for tears. But in that moment even the strong will break. The emotions took me. Thankful for the gift God had brought. Thankful that we were through the first step. Overwhelmed at God’s mercy.
The first three days were spent in Baptist Hospital. The doctors and nurses all had nothing but great words about Lindsay’s recovery, Luke’s demeanor and temperament, and most importantly his test results. Granted, these were simply preliminary and would not take the place of the scan to come later, none the less, they were good test results.
On Thursday we were released from Baptist and headed over to Vanderbilt to meet with the cardiologist. It was a long appointment. They did the scan immediately when we arrived. Then they took his vitals and we waited for the cardiologist to review the scan. Finally we were asked to wait in a room where the cardiologist eventually joined us. This visit would not have been anywhere near as tense as it was if Lindsay and I weren’t holding our breath in prayer for our three day old baby boy.
Dr. Cavanaugh came in and the first words out of her mouth were, “Let me start by saying everything is perfect.” Lindsay and I almost hit the floor. She continued by walking through the 4 month history of Luke’s chart. All of the problems or concerns to make sure we knew what she had looked for. She then told us that his aortic arch was completely open, clean and working as normal. The valve that we were concerned about would not have required surgery and therefore it was lower on our list of priority. However, even this valve was built completely normal and was exactly the right size.
We had been in prayer over this precious child’s heart and health for 4 months. We had reached out to all we knew for prayer and support through this time. We had gone through moments of pain, fear, joy and then the cycle started all over again. All of that to finally be brought to such an overwhelming sense of thankfulness.
We had lived with trust in the Lord and the acknowledgment that God’s way is not always ours. During the first seven hours of delivery day I watched my wife and unborn son struggle. Luke could just have easily required surgery on his heart. I KNEW God would deliver us, strengthen us through it and therefore if that was to be his desire I would thank him.
He chose to show favor on our family in this situation. He poured grace and mercy on us that we do not deserve. Lindsay, Luke and I drove home from Vanderbilt and I was frozen. My heart was in pieces that God chose to answer all of our prayers with, “I will heal this child.” We are so unworthy and there is nothing we can do in life to deserve such blessings. All we can do is acknowledge this and thank him through our life and the example we set for our families and others. Thursday night, the first night at home with our entire family I prayed that the Lord would give me the wisdom and strength I needed to honor him with my life regardless of what that meant. This is all I can do.
Friends, my family has never felt so loved, so cared for or so supported as with these last 5 months. I dare say that we have felt God, and your prayers, physically carry us through this time. We will never be able to truly thank you for this. I pray, though, that if we can return this in any way that you will not hesitate to ask. We don’t deserve you in our lives, but we are so thankful.
With all my thanks,
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