written by Jasey Johnson, Cruz & McCoy’s mother
It all started at the beginning of April 2015. My husband and I were at our first doctor’s appointment after finding out I was pregnant. I was having a few issues after finding out I was pregnant, so I was afraid that something might have been wrong. During the ultrasound, my doctor said the baby looks good! Then while my husband and I were sighing with relief that everything was ok my doctor said, “Oh wait…. There’s two of them!” It was the happiest/scariest/puzzled moment of our lives. TWO babies! Anyone that has twins or multiples probably has felt the same way.
The boys were born at 36 weeks on November 3, 2015. Cruz Pistol was born at 11:12 am weighing in at 6lbs and 19 inches long. McCoy Alan was born at 11:14 am weighing in at 6lbs 7oz and 19 inches long. My husband and I were both excited and scared at the same time when they were born. We could tell McCoy wasn’t breathing right away after he was pulled out of my stomach. The nurses finally got him to start breathing but the nurses still seemed a little concerned. They told us that both of the boys needed to go straight to the NICU. We were able to get a quick photo before both of them were taken to the NICU. It was a very uneasy feeling. Having both of your boys taken to the NICU and I wasn’t able to even hold them.
As the days led on, we found ourselves finding out what it’s like to be parents to a baby in the NICU, but for us, it was times two.
Cruz seemed to be breathing and eating better so we were able to get him out of the incubator and hold him first. McCoy didn’t seem to be doing as well. After a few days, the doctors decided to run some more tests and give both the boys an echo. That day will always be a bad memory that you wish you could get rid of. My husband and I came back from lunch to take care of the boys and I heard a nurse make a phone call to someone saying McCoy Johnson’s parents are back. I knew then that something was wrong. The doctor sat down with us and told us the news. Both of the boys had Congenital Heart Defects. He said Cruz’s defect was smaller than McCoy’s and we would be following up with a cardiologist in December to go over both of the boy’s diagnosis but McCoy would definitely be needing surgery before his first birthday.
Once out of the NICU we followed up with our pediatrician. The boys were being monitored for weight and oxygen levels. It was right after Thanksgiving that I noticed McCoy was breathing harder and faster than before. Our pediatrician contacted the cardiologists over at Children’s Hospital and we got into see Dr. Hsu. Cruz’s echo showed he had a Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) but was not too large so they were hoping it would close on its own. McCoy’s echo showed he also had a Ventricular Septal Defect with Malalignment Overriding Aorta. His VSD was much larger than Cruz’s and he needed to have surgery to fix it sooner than we expected. The thing that puzzled Dr. Hsu was that both of the boys had the same heart defect and they were fraternal twins. He said he has seen identical twins with this happening but it is very rare to have fraternal twins with CHD, let alone the same defect.
Since McCoy’s defect was obviously affecting how he was breathing and it was worse than initially thought, they moved his surgery up. So on January 8, 2016, our little baby had open-heart surgery at just two months old. Every minute of that day is permanently etched into my brain. Walking down the cold hallway with him to the operating room, handing him over to the nurse, waiting patiently for the doctor to come out and speak about how the surgery went, seeing him for the first time after surgery, listening to all the beeping of the monitors connected to him, watching his poor little body scream in pain and then finally seeing him breathe at a normal rate. That might have been the longest day of our lives.
To watch your baby go through everything that he went through at such a young age is heart-wrenching.
But the surgery was successful! Dr. Duncan was the surgeon who patched up his VSD, put a stitch in a small ASD he also had and saved our little boy! McCoy was in the hospital for about a week before coming home. Once he was home we were having a hard time figuring out which twin was which since they both breathed normally now, but all it took was to pull their shirts down to see who has the scar.
Fast forward to today, the boys are now two years old and running around like wild animals. They love going to the park, running around outside, kicking, throwing, or shooting a ball, playing with their toy cars and chasing after their big sister. They are normal two-year-old boys who are very mischievous, energetic, and funny! We just had a cardiology follow up in August for both the boys. We found out that Cruz’s hole did in fact close on its own and McCoy’s heart is looking good so we won’t need to follow up again until 2019!
We are so thankful for the doctors, nurses, and staff that have helped our boys since birth. We are thankful for the people we have met through this experience and are glad our boys are Heart Heroes who wear their Heart Hero Capes proudly!