Faith Grows with Baby Shepherd
When Stephanie and Noah Joyner found out they were pregnant with their third child, they were absolutely thrilled. Halfway through the pregnancy however, they discovered that the baby had a two-vessel umbilical cord instead of the standard three. Initially, doctors weren’t overly concerned, but at 32 weeks, doctors recommended weekly ultrasounds as well as other tests, as they had concerns about the baby’s growth.
Five weeks later, when Stephanie and her mother went for an ultrasound and exam, the nurse asked Stephanie, “Are you ready to have this baby?” The baby had lost weight in the womb and the doctor felt it was crucial to induce labor so that Stephanie would not lose the baby.
“I was completely unprepared,” Stephanie recalled. “My husband wasn’t with me as we thought this was a standard appointment, and my mother and I had plans to meet him later for dinner.” Instead, after many hours of labor, Stephanie gave birth at Rex Hospital in Raleigh to a 5-pound, 5-ounce baby boy named Shepherd. In the coming weeks, the parents would feel certain they picked the perfect name from Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd.”
A specialist told them that Shepherd needed surgery for a coarctation of the aorta, which is a narrowing of the aorta that causes the heart to pump harder. He was quickly transported from Rex Hospital to N.C. Children’s Hospital in Chapel Hill. Upon arrival, Shepherd was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and Stephanie and Noah checked into a local hotel. On their second day in Chapel Hill, they checked into the Ronald McDonald House. “I was totally blown away at all of the things the House provided that we hadn’t thought of,” Stephanie said.
On April 1, 2009, Shepherd underwent heart surgery to repair the kink in his aorta. The surgery went well, but complications caused by fluid build-up on his lungs and a yeast infection prolonged his stay in the hospital. After three months, Shepherd returned home with big brothers, Aslan and Haddon as well as a home health nurse that was required to stay with the family 16 hours a day.