My husband, Michael, and I struggled with infertility for five years when we finally decided to adopt. We were six months into the process when we discovered I was pregnant! We were thrilled when our son, Mason, arrived in 2013.
Then, just five months later, I was pregnant again. We were excited to grow our family. But at our 19-week anatomy scan, we learned that our second son, Finn, had heart disease. We were devastated.
We went to every hospital in our area searching for a solution. The outlook wasn’t good. Each doctor gently told us that there was little likelihood that Finn would survive birth. But we refused to give up.
We finally found a hospital that would take care of us and our son, and on Jan. 2, 2015, Finley Noah Blumenthal was born. He was alive, but we had a long road to recovery ahead.
As a new mother of two, I kept my first son happy and occupied but also had to focus on learning as much as I could about Finn’s condition to help keep him alive. I asked our doctors millions of questions and conducted my own research for eight months while Finn was in the hospital enduring 10 surgeries and one open-heart surgery.
By August 2015, Finn was finally able to come home, most doctors we met with didn’t think it would be possible. But he required more support than most newborns. This included taking multiple medications every day and feedings through a G-tube attached to his stomach, plus constant monitoring of his oxygen levels, heart rate and pulse.
This period was stressful, yet joyful. Finn was home with us, playing with his brother, enjoying time outside. He quickly began to grow and reach milestones, like sitting up on his own and even taking his first steps. But after we’d been home for 11 months, my husband and I realized that something was off with Finn. His progress seemed to stall.
My gut told me it was his heart. Shortly after Finn’s second birthday, another trip to the hospital confirmed it. Finn’s little heart was overworked, and it was time to plan his second open-heart surgery.
Because his case was so complex, we searched the country for a hospital that could give him the best care. In the end, we chose the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Finn’s heart was in dire need of repair so that he could breathe easier and pump blood through his body properly.
On Sept. 14, we handed Finn off to his surgical team. There was nothing we could do but wait and reflect on Finn’s life and everything that brought us to that point.
My husband and I made peace with the fact that there was never going to be one right answer for Finn’s future. We just had to try and make the best decisions we could along the way.
Just before the five-hour mark, the doctor came out and told us that the surgery was a success, and that Finn’s heart was finally relaxing. We were incredibly relieved.
Finn’s recovery has been successful, and he finally has the energy he needs to be a normal three-year-old kid.
For other parents of children with congenital heart defects, know that you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor questions, and most importantly, never give up on your child’s health. You’re stronger than you think, even in your weakest of moments. Appreciate the little things and savor every moment, even during times of struggle. You’ll look back later and be proud of how far you’ve come.
Finn will need additional procedures throughout his life, but as new technologies are introduced and lifesaving research continues, we are hopeful about Finn’s chances for a longer, better life.
It’s so wonderful to have our bright, energetic little boy back, and as his parents, we’re committed to doing everything we can to make sure progress is made not just for him, but for people with heart disease everywhere.
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