Do you want the good news or the bad news first? I can never decide which order is better. Does the good news make the bad news not so bad if the bad news goes first or does the bad news take the joy out of the good news if the good news goes first? If the good news goes first, does it give you strength enough to hear the bad news? If the bad news goes first, what happens if the good news isn’t as good as you had hoped? I think I’m leaning towards the bad news going first.
When my son was born, I was amazed. My labor and delivery had been quick and uncomplicated. He had really good apgar scores. He wasn’t jaundiced. We even got to come home a day early. He gained his weight back quickly. By one and a half months, he was sleeping from 10 pm to 7 am. Everything was great, and I was so thankful.
I left his four month well child appointment feeling disillusioned and very afraid. While listening to his heart, the doctor heard a murmur. He assured us it was probably unothing, but just to be sure, he wanted to get it checked with an echocardiogram. I spent the rest of the afternoon crying and holding my baby close.
He had an echocardiogram a couple of weeks later, and we got the results a few days later: my son had a hole in his heart, an atrial septal defect to be specific. My four month old had no symptoms of the hole. He was happy, meeting developmental milestones, and he was extremely active. He jumped on my lap during our entire consultation with the cardiologist.
The cardiologist informed us that, because of its size, the hole was unlikely to close on its own. We were told to watch for signs of heart failure, to watch his color, to monitor his growth, to watch his breathing rate. Flying in an airplane could be risky.
Another echocardiogram and another consultation at a Children’s hospital, showed that the hole was even bigger than the first echocardiogram indicated. The hole would need to be surgically closed between the ages of three to six because large ASD’s like his were unlikely to close on their own. There were two possible methods to closing the hole: transcatheter closure or open heart surgery. Open heart surgery would be required if there wasn’t enough tissue surrounding the hole. Clinically, he was healthy and showed no signs of having a heart defect.
We prayed nightly for the hole to close. Friends and family joined us in praying for our little boy. Despite the doctors’ lack of optimism, we knew God could cause the hole to close. And while I hoped and prayed God would close it, I knew that He had a good plan for my special little boy, and I knew that His plan might mean we cross paths with people in the hospital who needed to hear of the hope we have in Jesus.
At our next appointment 6 months later, we were told there was no change, but that we needed to monitor his growth because he was on the small side of the growth chart. Nine months later, he had another echocardiogram, and the cardiologist told us the hole had grown in proportion to his heart. There was good news though: there was enough tissue surrounding the hole, and open heart surgery would not likely be needed.
Last week, a year after our last appointment, we had another echocardiogram and cardiology appointment. Because of Covid, the hospital has implemented a one parent per patient policy, and I was unable to be at his appointment. I prayerfully braced my self as my husband and our little guy left for the appointment. We’re getting to the timeframe we were told surgery would be likely, and I dreaded it. The thought of my son sedated while doctors performed surgery on his heart unnerved me, despite the knowledge that it was a common procedure.
During the appointment, I kept watching the patient portal for any uploads of clinical notes or discharge instructions. An hour after his appointment time, I saw the discharge instructions, and I read the words: “Today a limited echocardiogram was completed which showed spontaneous closure of the atrial septal defect.”
I broke down. I was dumbfounded. All I could say was, “No way, God! No way!”
His 11mm ASD, the one doctors didn’t think would close on its own, is gone. In the vast majority of studies I’ve read online, no instances of spontaneous closure of large ASDs were noted.
I’m so grateful for doctors and medicine, but I’m beyond thankful that God intervened before the doctors needed to.
I don’t know what you may be facing today, but God is still working miracles. He is still healing. He is still doing things doctors don’t expect.
I can confidently say it was worth hearing the bad news to be able to hear the good news. It was worth the tears of sorrow and fear to get to cry tears of joy and relief.