Advent Day 3 – Tuesday, November 28

Our son had just been born at a large research hospital in California and my wife was recovering in the hospital room when we realized that our son should have been returned by now. It had been a whirlwind labor which started in the car on the way to the hospital. The doctor didn’t even have time to take off his Mickey Mouse wristwatch before delivering our child. After catching our breath, we finally confronted the nurse to ask the status of our child. That’s when we learned of the problem with his heart and his transfer to the pediatric intensive care unit.

The doctors told us that there was a problem with the electrical system of his heart and he would require surgery within the next few days to install a pacemaker, a high-risk procedure for a child so young. Because my wife has an autoimmune disease we had known the pregnancy was high-risk. In fact, the doctors had been monitoring the pregnancy twice a week and all signs had pointed to a healthy delivery. Suffice it to say, we weren’t prepared for the reality of our less-than-week-old infant needing surgery. We were distraught, in shock, and feeling all alone.

We called our California pastor and our families in Idaho and South Dakota to tell them of the situation. My wife and I have always been part of a church family wherever we have lived, but I don’t think we were prepared for the wonderful outpouring of love and support that we received. I still tear up a bit when thinking about it; there was such a comfort in knowing entire networks of family, friends, and church prayer chains in multiple states were praying for us and our son. Even though we were far away from our families and much of our support network, my wife and I felt an incredible comfort in knowing that so many people were praying for us.

Our doctors used the word “miracle” to describe that our son’s heart did not continue to deteriorate as they expected–despite the faulty wiring, his heart continued to function just well enough that he did not need a pacemaker until he was two years of age, making the procedure much less risky. But for me the true miracle that occurred then was in the love, support, and prayers from so many people that gave us the strength to face whatever steps were needed for our baby.

Steven Matzner