Stefanie gave birth to Henry James Patterson on January 10, 2017 at 2:59 am via Emergency C-Section at Southlake Regional Hospital in Newmarket Ontario. He was rushed by ambulance to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario. The Patterson Family was unaware the he would soon be diagnosed with having a few congenital heart defects.
Henry’s Congenital Heart Defects included: Coarctation of the Aorta, Ventricular Septal Defect and Bicuspid Aortic Valve. He underwent 13 hours of open heart surgery to address the first two issues. He was placed on extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Maching (ECMO) for two days.
Life was at a standstill for many long weeks for the Patterson family. Henry would have good days and then very bad days. They were told that “Henry was at the end of his rope, it was up to him to climb it or not”. His recovery was very long and complicated but the family never lost hope.
He was diagnosed with a severe case of Chlyothorax post Surgery. This made him very dehydrated, malnourished, and tachypneic. It was a constraint balance fo trying to level out his input and output to keep him stable. When he was four months old, he only weighted 8 lbs and was still in Critical Care. At this stage of his recovery, he shared a room with Millie Grace Robertson. It was a very private and personal time.
When his Chylothorax finally started to show improvements, he moved out of the Critical Care Unit and into the Recovery Unit. This was a very big step for the Patterson Family; there had a lot to learn about Henry and how to deal with a new reality of taking care of a very sick baby. Stefanie and Jamie took care of him 24/7, administering his medicine, feeding him via NG tube every 3 hours and trying to comfort him through severe narcotic withdrawals.
Henry was discharged from the Hospital for Sick Children after spending 97 consistent days there. He had never been outside, had a real bath or had milk from a bottle. The world was very overwhelming to him. The family had to take care of things very slow and be patient with him.
Stefanie and Jamie started to raise awareness of Congenital Heart Defects and give back to the Hostpial of Sick Children by placing an order of Sick Kids VS. BrokenHearts t-shirts worth over $5800. Friends and family of the Patterson’s often wear their t-shirts to support Henry and the Hospital.
Henry’s First Birthday, the family hosted a skating/pizza party in Bradford, Ontario and raised over $8,600 which was all donated to the Hospital in Henry’s name.
In terms of Henry’s health, he climbed that rope and he has amazingly caught up to your average toddler. His bicuspid aortic valve still needs to be addressed but the family feels confident it wont be until he is an adult. The Hospital of Sick Children follows him in the Cardiology, Neurology, Thrombosis and Ophthalmology Departments. Cardiology will follow him until he is 18 years old and then he will be followed by the Cardiology Department at Mount Sinai in Toronto, Ontario.
Stefanie’s family live a fairly normal life today until the next storm brews but through Henry’s journey, he has taught them so much and the bonds they have formed with each other are unlike most families. Life is truly very delicate and sometimes throws crazy curve balls directly at you that no one can prepare for but you make the best of the situation you’re in and never let lost faith.
The family grew fond of many other families they met during their stay at the Hostpial for Sick Children in 2017. “Heart families” share the same experiences and walk a path not many are on. Staying connected with them is very comforting. The Patterson family loved Millie and her family; they will miss her terribly but through the book Magnificent Millie, we will continue to find comfort through her beauty and grace. She’s our hero.