Monday

How it all began..

On May 14, 2004 Nicholas Stephen was born into our family. We were thrilled to have our second child arrive! He was by far the fastest and easiest birth we have had. He seemed perfectly healthy and fine. The nurses took him to the nursery to check him all out, and the next thing we knew, they had found a problem. He had a very strong heart murmur. They couldn't find the problem there at that hospital and the pediatrician decided it would be best if we hurried him down to Primary Childrens Medical Center in SLC, UT.

At first I was shocked and horrified that ANYTHING was wrong. The next emotion I felt was denial. Surely it was nothing and these doctors were over-reacting. Still, we drove Nicholas to the hospital going I'm sure a good 80-90 mph. We raced in through the ER as we were told to do, and asked for the cardiologist who was supposed to be waiting for us. It seemed like an eternity before we were seen, but after only a few minutes with the cardiologist and his nurse doing an electrocardiogram, the news was given to us that Nick had a massive tumor inside of his heart.

A tumor. A big tumor in our newborn son's tiny heart. We were able to remain calm while they told us that we would be staying at the hospital for a while and then while they made the preparations for us. The instant they left us alone in the room however, I tried to make a call to let the rest of the family know what was going on. I was able to speak the first 2 words into the phone "Hi... Todd..." and I broke down sobbing. Thankfully, Josh was able to finish for me and asked Todd to call my mom and have her spread the news to everyone.

We ended up staying about 2 weeks at the hospital that time. We spoke with literally dozens of doctors and specialists in many areas. We ran tests. We did MRI's and X-rays, EKG's, ultrasounds - looking for other tumors, I think there might have been a CAT scan, and any other test they thought could help in any way. All to no avail. No one knew what had caused the tumor, what kind of tumor it was, if it was cancerous, how to attack it, if they could operate, if he would even survive.

We cried. Oh, how we wept. There were even doctors who shared our tears. I remember being on my knees and pleading with Heavenly father to let me keep my baby. Josh gave Priesthood blessing after Priesthood blessing to me and to Nicholas, and was a constant strength to me. I remember at one time asking my mom why this would happen to us now... we had been striving to read our scriptures, pray often and as a family, attend church, pay our tithing and to do all of those things that we should be doing. She assured me that this wasn't a punishment! That perhaps I should try to be thankful that we had been doing those things because we needed to have the strength that doing those things brings... that we would be able to make it through whatever we were given.

They ended up sending us home with instructions to return in a few weeks. We did as they told us to, and the next visit there were more tests and then we were given the same instructions to return in a few weeks. This went on for a couple of months and then in October when we were beginning to get comfortable with things, we received a phone call from the cardiologist. He told us that the results from our last visit were not good, and that the tumor had grown considerably. He had discussed the case with all of the 14 cardiologists and the cardiothoracic surgeons several times and at length, and they were unanimous in thinking that an open-heart surgery would be a good idea. They didn't know what they might be able to accomplish, but they wanted to reduce the tumor as much as possible, and get a biopsy to see if it was cancerous and what kind of tumor it was. So, we were instructed to be back at the hospital in 2 weeks for the surgery.

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