When we first found out that our son had ventricle septal defect (VSD), we did not think much of it. Many children are born with holes in their heart, and many of these close over time. But by the third week, it was evident something was not right with our newborn son, N.
Feedings were short stints and left him extremely breathless. At times when the milk came too quickly, he’d cough and sputter, and milk might even come out through his nose. When he lay flat on his cot, we saw how vigorously his chest rose and fell, as though simply breathing took too much effort.
The pediatric cardiologist confirmed this when he measured N’s hole to be one of moderate to large size. By this point, his left lung was also slightly swollen due to the leak from the heart. His heart was also working double time to make up for the losses, leaving him more tired than most infants his age.
Though my husband and I are both seminary students, we are no spiritual giants. The diagnosis left us confused and saddened. I remember crying all the way home after that review. Recognizing that our son’s life was in danger, we had two options—to choose to believe in God’s sovereign will, or to abandon our faith altogether.The latter was ruled out almost immediately, and we knew we only wanted His will for our lives and nothing else.
The cardiologist told us that N needed surgery, and the thought of it scared us, but we knew it was time to call for our brothers and sisters to come alongside us. Perhaps our faith was being tested, but we surely did not have to brave this storm alone.
My husband Jonathan typed out a simple text explaining N’s situation and our need for prayer. I set up a broadcast group on WhatsApp and blasted that text to any and every one whom I knew would pray. Little did we expect the ripples of encouragement and practical help that came our way, and has continued to pour in till this day.
Right from the beginning, not a day passed without us receiving an encouraging text or message. Friends and friends of friends would drop me a note to press on with the feeding—tough as it was with N feeding twice as often as a regular newborn—and remind me that they are praying for us. God has used close girlfriends, aunties in church, and even the most obscure of friends from Secondary School to give me a boost every single day without fail. It gets very lonely and discouraging when you are all alone with an infant for hours on end, but these little messages reminded me of God’s love throughout the hardest days, and I knew N and I were remembered even through the roughest nights.
In church, people we hardly speak to came up to us and offered to pay for a session of N’s medical review, or to write us a cheque with an amount God had impressed upon their hearts. The church rallied intercessors in prayer, and cell groups have been moved to adopt us in their prayers. One pastor even allowed us to share N’s situation via a short video clip during his sermon on suffering, so the entire congregation will know what we’ve been going through.
As if these were not enough, God surprised us further when two family friends decided spontaneously that they would bring us homecooked soups once a week, so I would have less to prepare in the evenings. Pastors came and laid hands to bless and anoint our little family. Youth and young adults offered to take our older child to the playground to relieve us and give her some undivided attention. Clothing for N keep coming in bags such that we have not had to buy him a single thing since he was born.
And the blessings just keep coming.
This trial has only begun. But it has been made so much easier because of the community of believers rallying behind us in prayer and in every other practical way possible. We are reminded of the picture Paul painted in 1 Corinthians 12:25-26a, that God has put the body together, “so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. . .”
We now know in a very tangible way what it means to be One Body, and we are confident that we can stand firm in our faith because of those carrying us on their shoulders.