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CARING

Phoenix and Talia D

On October 15, 2003, I received a call from my wife that she was getting ready to have an emergency C-section. She had gone in for a normal prenatal check up and was told that the baby was breech and they needed to take him. I immediately left work facing a 2 1/2 hour drive in which time I had no idea how mother or baby were doing.

I arrived at the hospital just as my wife was being wheeled out of surgery and was told that she would be fine, but that there were some problems with our son. His heart was beating at about twice the normal rate for an infant and it looked as though there might be a small hole in it as well. They weren't sure if he would even last the night.

The first time that I was able to see or touch my son was through an incubator. While only two weeks early, he was on the small side. We talked to the doctors and because we were in a small town, they didn't feel they had the correct facilities to meet his needs. We were advised that he would be taken to a larger facility about 3 hours away that had an excellent neonatal unit.

Marcy, my wife, was still in quite a bit of pain, but was able to see our son for just a few moments the next morning before he was taken to the helicopter to be transported. She was to stay in the hospital for a few more days for a full recovery, but urged me to go with the baby. I spent the next few days traveling back and forth between hospitals before she was released that Saturday - the baby had been born on Tuesday.

In the neonatal ICU, we were advised that our son did indeed have a small hole in is heart as well as an irregular heartbeat. We spent 10 days in the ICU and during that time, he was defibrillated four times in an effort to lower and regulate his heartbeat. Finally, we were allowed to take him home, but not without medication to regulate his heartbeat. He was on medication for the first year of his life. We were advised that this medication was known to cause developmental delays in young children but our only other option would have been open heart surgery.

The medication did indeed cause delays. Our son didn't walk or really talk until he was 18 months old. He is somewhat smaller than other kids his age. But Phoenix has never let this stop him. He is now five years old, but through our efforts, the efforts of developmental specialists, and his on tenacity, he is now on the same developmental level as the other kids his age. He is intelligent, happy, and full of energy. He will be starting school in the fall and is already reading. Phoenix never lets anything stop him. If he can't do something, he'll keep trying until he can, never giving up. He is named for the mythical Phoenix that rises from the ashes and we believe his name fits him completely. It's because of his spirit and determination that he is one of my heroes.

My other hero is my daughter. Talia was five when Phoenix was born and has never complained about the amount of attention that we had to give him. She is incredible! Instead of being the 'typical' big sister and complaining about her 'little pest' of a brother, she has always been there to help not only Phoenix, but her mother and I as well. If Phoenix couldn't do something that he wanted to, Talia would be right there patiently helping and teaching him. She is always there to help her mother and me as well. We are blessed everyday by her caring spirit and nature. As she has grown older, she has, if anything, become more of a helpmate to us, as we now have a new infant girl in our lives. Talia loves and cherishes both of her siblings and never complains about having to help, doing it without asking and with a smile on her face. Between my son and daughter, I've learned how to live a good life with determination, caring, and perseverance. This is why they are my heroes.

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I enjoyed reading your story about your special children. It is my belief that they are so special because they have incredible parents as well. Congratulations to all of you.
Marny V.C., North Vancouver, B.C. Canada