Blake Andrew, the Little Rockstar

At the age of 39 I decided to have a baby on my own (with the support of my loving family). For the first 20 weeks of my pregnancy, things were relatively easy. At my 20-week anatomy scan (with my mother and grandmother beside me), I was informed by the doctor that my baby likely had a congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH). His words literally went in one ear and out the other. I was confused, but most likely in shock. At the time I received the news, I definitely did not understand the gravity of the situation. It wasn’t until later that afternoon once I got off the phone with Children Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) that I realized my baby had a very serious birth defect. One week later I drove to CHOP with my family for a full evaluation. CHOP confirmed my baby’s CDH diagnosis later that day. 

That next evening, I happened to have previously scheduled dinner plans with a friend in town who I had not seen in months. She had no idea what she was walking into (lots of tears). At dinner, my friend soon informed me that she thought a little boy on her son’s baseball team had the same diagnosis when he was little. I did not believe her because I had never heard of CDH prior to my baby’s diagnosis. What were the chances? I would later find out that little boy who played baseball would be Teddy from The Incredible Teddy Foundation.

Given the circumstances, I was informed by doctors that my baby needed to be born at a specialty hospital, in my case Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). I relocated to Philly at 34 weeks pregnant for monitoring (as required by CHOP). Family and friends stayed with me every step of the way. CHOP estimated my baby would be in the hospital for 2-3 months after birth. To help offset the expenses of moving temporarily to another city while maintaining a home in Saratoga Springs, The Incredible Teddy Foundation provided me with a generous grant to help with the financial burden. This amazing act of charitable generosity and kindness was a very bright light for me in a very difficult time.

After 24 hours of labor and my whole family waiting in the delivery room at CHOP, Blake Andrew was born on August 25, 2019. I knew Blake would be a fighter from the beginning when he immediately tried to pull his lines out on day one. He was stable enough to have surgery at three days old and has been kicking butt ever since. I like to call him my little rockstar. With the amazing support of my family, who never left my side at the hospital, Blake and I were able to go home after 16 days in the hospital. 

Not only did The Incredible Teddy Foundation help me on this journey financially, but they also helped me emotionally. No parent can truly ever prepare themselves for the birth of a sick child. The unknown is what scared me the most. However, I was able to connect with Teddy’s mom and talk to someone who really understood the shoes I was standing in. I am forever grateful for those talks before and after Blake was born. I hope to pay it forward now as a board member of The Incredible Teddy Foundation. Although Blake’s lung is not fully grown yet, he is doing amazingly well. I am forever grateful.

Melissa Byrne