Take me to Timpanogos Regional Hospital: They care about my baby’s heart and my past heartbreak
Six times Teisha and Jordan Walker have learned they were pregnant. Twice they learned their unborn baby wasn’t developing properly due to heart defects. Tytan, born in 2013, lived only six months due to a complex, rare birth defect that left his heart critically underdeveloped. It broke his parents’ hearts to say goodbye to their precious babe. As time went on, they continued welcoming children to their family – each healthy and strong, until their sixth and final baby.
At 18 weeks pregnant with this last child, the couple learned that two heart defects interfered with their unborn son’s health.
“It felt like my entire world came crashing down,” Teisha said. “Knowing it had happened once, and knowing how it ended, I felt petrified that this would end the same way. The doctors have told us there is nothing genetically involved in these heart defects, but it’s sure odd that we’ve lucked out with two.”
Since Tytan had spent the majority of his six months of life at a children’s hospital in Salt Lake, Teisha and Jordan wanted a different hospital and a different experience for this baby boy.
“We got in contact with a cardiologist and the NICU team at Timpanogos Regional Hospital. They learned our story, honored our past experience and were sensitive to our situation. The doctors and nurses were phenomenal as we planned for the birth and through every moment of care once he arrived,” Teisha said.
The baby boy’s heart had an atrioventricular canal defect; doctors described it as having an upstairs and a downstairs but missing the connecting stairs. If not remedied, the baby would go into heart failure. His heart also had a vascular ring, meaning an abnormality in blood vessels wrapped around his trachea and esophagus. This defect would cause eating and breathing issues as he grew.
“With his defects, we didn’t know what would happen when he was born. The situation could be severe upon arrival, or in best case scenario, he could wait and be fixed later. We didn’t know if he’d come out crying or blue. So, on the day of his birth, when I heard him come out with a strong cry, I was filled with relief,” Teisha said.
Unfortunately, the relieved feelings didn’t stay long. Within a few minutes, nurses observed the small baby (who weighed only 5 lbs. at birth) changing colors. “He turned blue, and the nurses rushed him to NICU. At that point I started to cry, thinking, ‘Here we go again,’” Teisha said. “Thankfully, the expert NICU nurses knew just what to do and his body responded well. They provided respiratory support, and within 24 hours or so, he could do all the newborn things.” Teisha and Jordan named their precious son Trextyn, appropriately meaning “strength within.” During
his time in the NICU care, Trextyn’s strength grew as his parents and NICU team united in supporting and bolstering his new fragile life.
“It was amazing. Because they knew our past experience, the NICU nurses and doctors knew my emotions were high and they went over the top to be sensitive to our feelings while they cared for Trextyn. They let me be a part of all the baby things – like nurse him and help with his cares and hold him lots. I could tell they genuinely cared about Trextyn and about us,” Teisha said.
After just four days in the NICU, Trextyn was strong enough to go home to meet his siblings. Five months after that, he endured a complex valve replacement surgery. His cardiologist at Timpanogos Regional Hospital even flew to the specialty hospital in Ohio to be there for the surgery.
“We’ve learned a lot because of the things we’ve experienced. Like, there are many people who care and dedicate their lives to taking care of families and giving these little ones a better chance at life. I also learned I’d choose Timpanogos Regional Hospital again because they care about the whole family. We had kids scared that another brother would go to heaven, so we worked with counselors, social workers and child-life specialists at Timpanogos. They even sent home things for our kids to throw a birthday party for Trextyn. These people have been a big part of our life. They became family, and they treat us as such. They definitely treat us like people, not patients.” Teisha said.