John Hudson’s story begins in August of 2015 when Nick and I found out we were expecting our first sweet baby. The weeks creeped by as we anticipated our November 2nd appointment where we would find out if Baby Stafford was a boy or a girl. When the day finally came it was filled with the joy of finding out the little one in my womb was our sweet boy, John Hudson, as well as the shocking news that our precious baby's heart did not look quite like every other baby’s heart.
Our doctor scheduled us an appointment two days later with a specialist who was only able to confirm that there was a heart defect but wasn’t sure if it was something that would resolve on its own or potentially take the life of our unborn son. The next two weeks were filled with questions and the temptation to fear and worry as we waited to meet with another fetal heart specialist. On Friday, December 18th, we learned that John Hudson’s heart defect was not something that would heal on its own, but was called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. It was difficult to hold back tears and take in all that our doctor was saying as she explained how our son would be born with only half of his heart functioning and would need to undergo a series of three open heart surgeries: his 1st within his first week of life, his 2nd between 3-6 months, and his 3rd around age 3. Our sweet boy we had yet to meet had a 65% chance of making it to birth and an 85% chance of making it through the first two surgeries.
During those weeks and months of waiting to finally meet John Hudson, Nick and I found great comfort and strength in the truths of God’s Word. Romans 8:32 was and still is a rock upon which we could stand reminding us that “He (God) who did not spare His own Son (Jesus) but freely gave Him up for us all, how will He (God) not also with Him (Jesus) graciously give us all things?” God was willing to give his own Son so that I, a rebellious sinner, could be forgiven of my sins, spared the eternal judgment that I deserve, and adopted as His child! If He is willing to do this for me, why would I need to doubt or fear that He would withhold anything else from me that is for my good?! Nick and I prayed for healing over our son, but we ultimately were able to rest knowing that even if John Hudson didn’t make it, we can KNOW that God is good, His ways are perfect, and He is more than worthy of being trusted and praised.
After many long weeks we finally made it to week 39 and had the joy of meeting John Hudson on Wednesday, April 20, 2016 - Oh Happy Day! John Hudson spent his first night in the Blair E. Batson NICU but was moved to the heart side of the PICU early that morning where he stayed for the next 6 weeks. He had his first heart surgery when he was 6 days old, and did great! Recovery took longer than expected because although his heart recovered well, his little body was having a hard time finding the energy and ability to take in enough calories which led to John Hudson having a stomach surgery and needing a feeding tube.
We made it home for the first time as the Stafford Family on June 6th! The next 3 weeks we were back and forth from home to the hospital, and during those three weeks it was decided that John Hudson’s 2nd surgery would be moved from September/October to July 5th. He had a very successful 2nd surgery, but due to being younger than most babies who undergo this 2nd surgery, his recovery took about 4-5 weeks instead of the typical 1-2 weeks.
As I write this story it is now February 2017, and John Hudson is 10 months old! Around age 3 (spring/summer 2019) he’ll be gearing up for his 3rd open heart surgery to hopefully complete the three step heart repair process, and until then we’re working hard on growth and development. Nick and I are beyond thankful to say he’s doing great, and we give so many thanks to the UMMC Batson Cardiac Team, our church, family, friends, and all the praise to our Heavenly Father who has given us the gift of His own Son and our sweet son, John Hudson!
- Carrie Stafford