I received an email from Nathan’s mom around the time of his due date – my heart sank when I read the first sentence…”he was born early and with a heart defect.” But to my amazement, in the next sentence, she explained how he went in for open-heart surgery when he was just 3 days old – and was recovering beautifully!
He was already a miracle baby in my mind, but when I heard his whole story at his newborn photo session, I began to realize how amazing his story really is. Slightly before her due date, Nathan’s mom was induced and had her gorgeous baby boy at Royal Columbian Hospital. Being a maternity nurse herself, she immediately had a feeling that something was just not right with her newborn…. she brought her concerns to the attention of the pediatricians and specialists and, 48 hours after his birth, a diagnosis was made. Her instincts were right – Nathan was born with Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return (TAPVR), a condition in which the 4 pulmonary veins (which are supposed to be returning blood to the heart’s left ventricle) are actually connected to each other instead. The only reason little Nathan survived being born with this condition is because his foramen ovale, which should have closed when he took his first breaths, miraculously did not close. Once the diagnosis was made, Nathan went right into surgery at BC Children’s Hospital. Thanks to amazing doctors, nurses, and staff, the surgery was a success. You can see an image of him with a heart-shaped pillow below – I learned that these are given to children at BCCH who are recovering from open-heart surgery, so that they can hug them to gain a bit of support in their chest and ease the pain. It makes my own heart ache to imagine this – as a parent, how do you have the strength to watch your little one in such pain?
When Nathan came for his photo session a few weeks after surgery, the staples from his incision had just been removed. It was surreal to see such a tiny body with such a massive scar. And it was incredible to see the love that his parents have for him….after all they went through during his first few days and weeks, they had such joy in simply holding and snuggling with their little one. It will be a newborn session that I will never forget. I’m so thankful I got to meet Nathan and his parents, and I am honoured to be a small part of his first few weeks of life!