The Beginning

Wow.  It’s finally here.

It is the early morning of December 12th, 2000.  Today, I get to meet my son, Mason Andrew.

The birth went along as planned.  We came in this morning to be induced, but before they could give Brandi the medication, her water broke.  It was just meant to be.

Witnessing my first child birth, I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  Mason came out looking rather gray & blue.  They could tell that he wasn’t getting enough oxygen prior to delivery, so they had Brandi on oxygen trying to help him out.  Once he was delivered and cleaned up, Brandi held him for about a minute for some photographs and they rushed him off to get him in an oxygen tent.

A few hours later, after Brandi was in recovery, our pediatrician came by to talk to us.  I was glued to the window in the nursery, so I missed his visit.  It appeared (at the time) that Mason had a hole in his heart.  Not uncommon, but something that needed to be looked at.  Texas Children’s Hospital was on their way to pick him up and take him downtown for further observation.

The “Kangaroo Crew” from TCH arrived and explained in great detail what they intended to do and we needed to do.  Their service was top-notch.  They let us know that they could bring him by before they left if we wanted them to.  Of course we said yes.  Up until this point, I had been glaring through a slight crack in the closed blinds on the nursery window.  Couldn’t see him at all, but I knew he was there.

The crew brought him into the room.  They prepared us for what we would see.  They told us that there would be tubes and wires hung all over him.  They told us it would be “scary”.  “Scary” is not the word for it.  I was terrified.  We had a few minutes in the room with him and then they took him to Houston.  Brandi stayed at the hospital till morning to make sure she was healing properly and I followed the ambulance to Texas Children’s Hospital.

I visited with him in the Neo-Natal ICU for several hours that night.  Late that night, or early the next morning (I don’t know which), I was approached by a team of doctors.  They set me down and explained what was going on.  It was the beginning of a long, hard road.

It seems that Mason was born with a congenital heart defect known as “Hypo-Plastic Left Heart Syndrome”, or “HLHS” for short.  It is a rare congenital heart defect in which the left ventricle of the heart is severely underdeveloped.

I was basically given 3 choices that night.  I could get him on the heart transplant list, which was near impossible to get donor hearts for that age / size.  I could elect for multiple surgeries that would buy him some time if not fix it enough to make him good for life.  I could take him home and enjoy the time I had.  It could have lasted hours, days or weeks.  But it wouldn’t be long before his heart gave out.

Being that transplant was highly unlikely, and taking him home to die was not an option, we went through with a plan that would take several surgeries and lots of time in the hospital.

December 18, 2000

Mason’s first procedure was done.  He was six days old.  It would be nearly six weeks before we could take him home.  That procedure just bought him time to grow.  He could not suck on a bottle and tired easily.  He was fed through a feeding tube and was on a strict medicine and feeding regiment.  We didn’t sleep much.

May / June 2001

His next procedure was done at about 5 months.  Complications from that surgery caused an infection and we spent an additional month in the hospital.  After the surgery and recuperation was done, there was significant improvements.  His color improved.  He could drink from a bottle and actually move around some.  We could see the light.

April 2002

We went in for the usual check-up.  All had been well.  Brandi and I noticed that the technician performing the echo was acting nervous and stepped out to have the supervisor look at it.  He wouldn’t tell us anything, we needed to speak with the our cardiologist.

We’re pretty nervous, what could be wrong?  Our Dr. steps into the room, tears rolling down her face, and breaks the news to us.  Mason needs a transplant.  Soon.

How long?

6 months, give or take.

We were devastated.

I spent the next several months in a very dark place.  I woke up every morning praying that Mason would get his heart.  I had trouble with that, because in essence, I was praying for somebody else to suffer a horrible tragedy so that my son may benefit from it.  I was praying for a child to die, so that my son could live.