Number One Birth Defect: Congenital Heart Defect

That title may sound shocking. The truth is that nearly 1 in 100 babies born each day have a congenital heart defect (CHD). Some go unnoticed. Others become apparently within a few days or month of birth. Then there are those that (thankfully) are noticed before birth and require surgery within days of arriving in the world. This week, February 7th – 14th, we are going to highlight on our social media pages areas of all things CHD, but today want to share with your a bit of our heart journey.

It may be shocking, since most of Nursing Decoded is centered around adults, educating and empowering others on their own health journey, but those on the other side of the keyboard also have family health challenges that they navigate (also with the help of others!)

Being a nurse, a nurse practitioner is a skill, a passion, a calling – but it is also a choice.

Being a parent of a child with a life threatening condition, one that you have no control over and no means to bargain, plan, or fix is a feeling that no parent should have to experience.

Yet, each day, the heart mom/heart dad/heart family badge is given to families who never applied; and they begin their journey usually frightened, overwhelmed and without knowing anyone else who has walked down this path.

So, this week, while we want to make you aware of our heart warrior, we also want you to know how so many children are thriving, surviving into now what is the largest groups of Adults with Congenital Heart Defects.

Most importantly, we want to introduce you to the support systems that envelope heart kids, heart parents, and the health care teams that research and care for them.

Heart Week

All week on our Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages we will be talking about all things CHD! We have SO much planned on our social media pages – please follow along!

  • MONDAY – Statistics. Facts. Information.
  • TUESDAY – Support for parents and families
  • WEDNESDAY – Black History meets History, this heart pioneer story is amazing.
  • THURSDAY – Research & Funding
  • FRIDAY – Camp Odayin
  • SATURDAY – Adults with Congenital Heart Disease, our next challenge
  • SUNDAY – HAPPY CONGENITAL HEART DEFECT DAY! (Ok, fine, Happy Valentine’s Day, too)

Our Heart Journey

“Congenital Heart Defects. Bet you never heard of it? Neither did we before our 20 week ultrasound with Owen. Here we were just looking to find out if we were going for the boy trifecta or if a girl would make an appearance. Deep down – you really just want healthy. We didn’t get that. I clearly remember the ultrasound tech typing in 4 chamber heart but her mood went somber. Something was wrong. Finding this BEFORE he was born was the blessing we were given. We could research, obtain the knowledge, interview MDs – get the best team set up before his big arrival. This is my FAVORITE ultrasound photo of Owen – his little hand ready to give the fist bump that it was all going to be ok. We were going to get through this – together.”

First Surgery – Four Days Old

“My FAVORITE photo after he was extubated and started opening his eyes. Doesn’t matter that I worked in a hospital and I had knowledge of everything going on. When it’s your child, your three day old baby, you need to strength and support of the medical teams. We were in amazing hands with the entire team at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin once we arrived. We had a delivery plan but Owen had other plans.

Arriving 4 weeks early threw everything off – but everyone at our delivering at our local hospital NCH and then transferring to CHW was everything we needed to get us through the first days. The amount of doctors, nurses, techs and staff that were involved during the first few hours and days – there’s no way I could every thank them all enough. I wish I could say we were a unique case – but with CHD there are many, many more families that have gone through this and just starting their journey.” 

Second Surgery – Two Years Old

“One of the scariest moments of being a heart parent is the second you hand your drowsy, scared child over to the surgical team & watch them walk away to the OR as the doors close in front of you. Then you wait. And wait. Owen has two heart surgeries under his belt. One left side thoracotomy to fix his aortic arch at 4 days old. The second was just after his second birthday & was open heart to clean up & repair his aortic & mitral valve. Luckily he still has his own valves – but will need them replaced sometime is his life, probably late teens/early 20’s. Until then he runs, jumps, swims, plays in the snow, wrestles with this brothers, loves his iPad, threatens to start playing hockey & enjoys showing off his scar.”

Now, nine years later, we have an almost 13 year old son who still amazes us every day. His journey will never be over. We have either echos, MRIs, cardiac stress tests each year and manage blood pressure medications. We continue to live each day, but also knowing that the future WILL hold another heart surgery.

This very morning, a few miles away, another heart warrior friend is in the operating room. Her parents are being showered with prayers, thoughts and strength, and their daughter is in the hands of the cardiac team. There is usually little warning that another surgery will be on the horizon, and even when you know, you are still never ready to return to the

Knowledge is Power

If this is the first time you have heart of congenital heart defects, or know someone who is in this battle, please take the time this week to do the most important thing you can do – share any and all this information. Knowledge is power. And if doesn’t help you, it might help another parent or family member trying to support their heart warrior.

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28 thoughts on “Number One Birth Defect: Congenital Heart Defect

  • February 8, 2021 at 4:41 pm
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    Wow what a tough and scary thing to find out. I’m so glad you were surrounded by a good team of doctors, etc. I love that he is proud of his scar to show it off!

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  • February 8, 2021 at 6:03 pm
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    Sharing yours and Owen’s story of CHD will help so many. Glad he is living the typical little boy life now. Hope the next surgery is as painless and speedy as possible.

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  • February 8, 2021 at 6:29 pm
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    I remember when the nurse came in to check my newborn for congenital heart defect and she creased her forward in a frown. My heart dropped! They put her on watch a few days and they said the murmur cleared. She’s been good even though it’s something her doctor keeps looking out for.

    I’m glad your little champ is doing great! Thanks for the education

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  • February 8, 2021 at 6:48 pm
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    Thank you for sharing this experience. I was unaware of CHD and its impact on children. I am so happy for you and your family that you were able to get this diagnosed early and treated. My thoughts and prayers are for a successful life for your son.

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  • February 8, 2021 at 7:17 pm
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    My sons lost their best friend to a CHD. He was in our house every day, and my son was the last person to see him. Thanks for sharing your story! Hold your kiddo tight!

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  • February 8, 2021 at 7:46 pm
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    Thank you for sharing your story! I can’t even imagine how scary that time must have been, but it’s good to create awareness for it so those who are going through it have others to talk to about it!

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  • February 8, 2021 at 8:59 pm
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    I’m glad he is doing so well. That is super scary!

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  • February 8, 2021 at 11:52 pm
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    I had no idea, they are trying to figure out if my niece has one. Glad to learn about this!

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  • February 8, 2021 at 11:53 pm
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    Interesting info! Thanks!

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  • February 9, 2021 at 2:59 am
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    Thanks for sharing your story. It is so hard to have a child who is got health problems. So glad that you had a great group of doctors and nurses to help you through.

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    • February 9, 2021 at 6:02 am
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      Even the nurses need support – it always takes a squad of support when you are on the other side of healthcare!

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  • February 9, 2021 at 4:11 am
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    I remember when my son was born, they nonchalantly mentioned he had a hole in his heart. I had to ask them about it before we left the hospital. They said some babies are just born that way and that it closes on its own within a few days. I was floored by how casual it seemed to them while I was freaking out. We were very lucky that it wasn’t something far worse.

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  • February 9, 2021 at 5:25 am
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    I feel for you and your family with this. As a father of 3 myself, I cannot imagine being in your shoes. My heart goes out to you and yours!

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  • February 9, 2021 at 3:38 pm
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    Such a frightening experience with a newborn! Thanks for sharing your story and serving as an inspiration for others.

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  • February 9, 2021 at 5:26 pm
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    I had no idea this was that common of an issue! How scary for a parent to hear those words.

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  • February 9, 2021 at 8:28 pm
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    My nephew was born with a congenital heart defect. Had major surgery at 2 days. You’d never know it after he recovered. He’s almost 30 now!

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  • February 9, 2021 at 9:03 pm
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    So scary. What a sweet little guy, showing off his scar and being so brave. Thanks for sharing this important information.

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  • February 10, 2021 at 2:10 am
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    Thank you for sharing your story! He’s a fighter and you are one strong mama!

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  • February 10, 2021 at 7:00 am
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    Aw, Owen’s story is so touching. I didn’t know that congenital heart defect was the number one birth defect. But our friends just had a baby and he had several surgeries and then a successful heart transplant. I can’t imagine the emotions and fear you must have felt when Owen went in for those surgeries. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  • February 10, 2021 at 8:43 pm
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    Gosh, it must be so gut wrenching for a parent.

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  • February 10, 2021 at 10:28 pm
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    Thank you for sharing your story. I can’t imagine how scary that was. Heart health is so important and having great doctors/nurses is such a blessing.

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  • February 11, 2021 at 8:39 pm
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    Thank you for sharing your story. I can’t imagine how scary these moments have been for you.

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  • February 14, 2021 at 2:22 am
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    So glad your son is doing well. I knew the statistics were high. I have several friends who have had babies/grandbabies born with CHD. All are doing well at this time!

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  • February 14, 2021 at 7:24 pm
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    Thank you, for sharing your story. It is not easy and can imagine what you must have gone through. So glad to know that the lovely team of doctors and nurses were there to help when you most needed it.

    Reply

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