Guest Post by Shannon Andersen – I am humbled to introduce a very dear friend of mine. Shannon shares her journey as a new parent and her son’s unexpected health challenges in the first few days after birth. As a new mom, Christian and friend… I admire her strength and willingness to share a rather difficult story. Her perseverance is inspiring and I hope this story encourages you today! I am blessed to call her a friend and beyond thankful that our children will grow up together. Thank you, Shannon!
After learning the joyful news that I was pregnant with my first child, I started sending a daily prayer to God that I’m sure every parent prays, “Lord, please have my child be healthy.”
Now, I’ve heard before that God will answer your prayers with one of three answers – Yes, No, or Wait. However, through the experience of my son’s birth and the months following, I can testify that there is a possibility that He may answer with all three. Yes, No AND Wait.
“Lord, please have my child be healthy.” God told me – Yes.
At 20 weeks of pregnancy, I had a routine anatomy scan where they evaluate the baby’s growth and how his internal organs were developing. He looks perfect and healthy, they said. It was a relief to get a peek inside and know he was growing well. I felt I could put my some of my worries to rest the remainder of my pregnancy.
On February 8, 2014, God blessed my husband Ryan and I with a beautiful, peaceful, and healthy baby boy. I felt so blessed. We chose the name Bennett for him, which means “blessed”. I thought of those who had suffered through complications in pregnancy and birth. Why did God choose Ryan and I to be the lucky ones?
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17
“Lord, please have my child be healthy.” A few days later God told me – No.
Bennett did well his first day home. He was nursing well, made dirty diapers, and was doing great as far we could tell. However, on day two, we began to notice some changes. He became increasingly irritable, a change from his easy-going personality that he had shown us the days prior. We were not seeing any wet diapers. Were we just missing them? He was not feeding as well. Is it just a breastfeeding issue? We had a routine 2-day old check-up the next day and decided to ask then.
At the appointment, our nurse found his temperature to be alarmingly low – a sign of the body going into shock. Before we knew it, many other doctors and nurses filled the room with monitoring equipment. Eventually Bennett was scooped up and carried through the halls to the ICU.
The doctors and nurses worked on stabilizing Bennett, giving him a breathing tube and placing IVs. They were still unsure of what was causing his body to go into shock. The doctors also ordered a number of blood tests, x-rays and a spinal tap.
We were able to be with Bennett during most of this, but we were asked to step out of the room for some of the procedures. This is when Ryan and I were alone with our thoughts.
I’ll never forget Ryan saying to me, “He may not make it, Shannon. We have to prepare ourselves for that possibility.”
For the first time since the pregnancy began, I experienced a new feeling in my heart. Denial.
I was angry. Confused. Why would God give us a child, just to take him away four days later? Sadness. Why innocent Bennett? The reality hit me that God may say – No.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
“Lord, please have my child be healthy.” God’s final answer was – Wait.
Bennett was eventually diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, coarctation of the aorta. This is a defect where the aorta has a section of abnormal ductal tissue that starts to close a few days after birth, along with other normal fetal ductal tissue in the heart. The aorta delivers blood to the lower extremities and organs including the kidney, liver and intestines. This lack of blood flow to his organs is what caused Bennett to become so critically sick. This defect can be sneaky, as it often does not show itself until a few days after birth when that tissue begins to constrict and close.
We were thankful for a diagnosis, but what did this mean for us? The doctors told us surgery could correct this defect by removing the abnormal tissue. The surgery would need to be done at Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee. Bennett received his first helicopter ride there that night.
His organs suffered significant damage from lack of blood flow which caused other complications in his body. He would need time to stabilize to give surgery the best outcome. Then he would need time to recover from surgery including learning to breathe and eat on his own again. The doctors said to expect a month or more in the hospital. God was indeed telling me to – Wait.
Though the doctors were confident, I fought daily with the thought that God might still tell us – No. We prayed for our baby’s health. Friends, family and even strangers were also including Bennett in their prayers. We were touched.
In His time, God answered our prayers. Bennett’s organs healed with no permanent damage and surgery was successful. The recovery process was long and slow, but always positive. Thankfully, day by day, Bennett’s health began to improve.
Why Did God tell us Wait instead of Yes or No? I’m sure there are multiple reasons God laid this challenge in front of us.
Ultimately, I believe God puts us through tribulations on earth for a few main reasons. They teach us lessons and build our character. They make us appreciate our blessings. They bring us closer to each other and closer to Him. God tells us to be thankful in all circumstances, for it is His will for us he that He uses for our benefit.
I ask that whoever reads this please say a prayer for the children who remain in Children’s Hospital. There were babies in the Cardiac ICU that were there before Bennett arrived, and were still there after he had left, with no outward signs of progress. I assume they are waiting for transplants. There were also children there that need multiple heart surgeries just to buy time until they can receive a new heart. Pray for their healing and peace for their families.
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3,4
Shannon Andersen lives in Wisconsin with her husband Ryan, son Bennett, dog and cat. She is a trained Vet Tech, but currently she is being trained as a stay-at-home mom. Bennett continues to do well, reaching and exceeding all the “healthy baby” milestones.