THE COMPASS

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My Hero – My Son by Melissa Da Silva

Joshua spends every moment of his life inspiring others with his determination and desire to achieve. His beautiful little smile can simply melt your heart.

August 4, 2010: Joshua’s birthday was one of the happiest and most heartbreaking days of my life. I remember it like it was just yesterday. I can picture every detail and feel those exact emotions. I was 36 weeks pregnant and after an unremarkable day, I had an overwhelming feeling that I needed to go to the hospital. Maybe it was faith; some call it mother’s intuition.

A relatively normal assessment quickly changed with the onset of a single contraction. In this very moment, my baby became extremely distressed and despite countless interventions he was not responding. Fearful and afraid, the nurses immediately called a Code Pink – an obstetrical emergency. The life of a mother and child hung in the balance.

My son was born by emergency cesarean section and in the early moments of his new life he was fighting against death. My beautiful six-pound baby boy was fighting a medical battle of astronomical proportions. Joshua had a life threatening condition called disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (DIC) that caused his blood to become extremely thin and made him very sick. It is believed that at the time of that single contraction, Joshua began bleeding in his brain, suffering a hemorrhagic stroke.
This was the darkest time in my life.

I remember sitting next to my son’s bassinet in the middle of a busy, loud NICU filled with nurses, doctors, families and friends; I felt so alone. I was scared and lost. I was bargaining with God and I was angry and heartbroken.

After 19 long days in the intensive care, my baby boy Joshua made it home. He fought hard, and with the love of his family and the knowledge and skills of the Stollery ICU staff, he survived.

We finally went home, and we were together like a family should be. My husband and I were committed to providing our children with unconditional love and support, despite our fears of the many unknowns for Joshua. We didn’t know if our precious baby was blind or deaf; we didn’t know if he would ever walk; we didn’t know if he would ever talk. Would we ever hear “mommy” and “daddy” spoken from his lips? Only time would tell.

Just when we felt like we were getting into a routine, our sweet boy became seriously ill with a respiratory virus and he struggled to breathe. He was so weak he barely had the strength to hold his head up. Joshua spent over two weeks in the Stollery once again. It was during this hospitalization and a random elevator ride that I first encountered a member of the pediatric neurosurgery team, Dr. Pugh. Tired and crying I bombarded him with questions about stroke complications, stroke recovery and surgery. Having never met my son he still spent time with me and shared his knowledge. Genuine and kind, his exact words to me before we went our separate ways were, “If you need us, we will be here.”

We didn’t know if our precious baby was blind or deaf; we didn’t know if he would ever walk; we didn’t know if he would ever talk. Would we ever hear “mommy” and “daddy” spoken from his lips? Only time would tell.

Seven months later, Joshua would in fact require the help of the neurosurgical team. He required brain surgery for a VP shunt at 14 months old. His head was rapidly growing and the only remedy was surgery.

Dr. Pugh and Wendy Beaudoin took us by our hands and with compassion and knowledge led us down this very difficult path. Answering our every question, never rushing an appointment, and having genuine care for our family made it easier to hand him over to them in the operating room on September 20, 2011.

Now at three years old Joshua continues to amaze us with his drive and motivation. He has undergone countless procedures, surgeries, scans and appointments that are reflected in the hundreds of Hope Stones he has collected already. The hope stones are a symbol of a difficult medical journey, but they are even more a symbol of what we have overcome as a family.

Joshua has accomplished so much in his short life and we are so tremendously proud of him, and we are in love with him and his brother.

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