Sweet Hayden was born on March 12, 2012. His delivery was perfect, born 5 hours from the time I was admitted to the hospital. Right after he was born, he was placed in my arms and I finally got to lock eyes with this amazing little boy who I already loved more than I knew my heart could handle.
We spent the next few weeks at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) because he was born with a very rare birth defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (read more about HLHS here) and would need to have open-heart surgery before coming home. Life in the hospital was difficult—but learning more about Hayden was exciting, just as it is with any newborn. He had the most beautiful skin and eyes. He had little hair, so we kept him warm with knit hats in the chilly CICU (cardiac intensive care unit).
When Hayden was three weeks old, we went home for the first time—for only ten days. In those ten days, we enjoyed so much of just being together. Jackson, our older son, was so intrigued by Hayden, and Hayden was equally enthralled with Jackson. We went back to CHOP where we spent another month together. That’s when his personality began to blossom. Our love for each other grew immensely in that month.
His first smile happened in room 11 in the CICU—and it seemed he didn't stop smiling until the day everything in our lives flipped upside down. That smile is still what I picture today. And those eyes. I've always said he spoke to me through his eyes. He was like an old soul smiling through them—even through his struggles—and they told how much he loved his life and who was in it with him.
We went home for a while the next time and that time will always be an incredible gift to our family. Even though every day we were busy running from specialist to therapist so that Hayden could be given the best chance at life, we spent all of our time together, and thoroughly enjoyed our time as a family. It all started to feel normal—bedtime stories together, morning cartoons, walks to the park—always together, enjoying the simple things life has to offer. We even made our first public family debut one morning at a diner, and that may have been the most normal I’d ever felt since having Hayden.
Our blog will tell you how Hayden was taken from this world and is now in heaven, but that is not the end of his story. We started Hayden's Heart INC in his honor so that even though he is no longer physically here and in my arms, he will live on forever through our work. Hayden was 5 months and 4 days old when he died, and he touched more lives in that time than anyone I have ever known—more than everyone I know combined. He truly changed lives and made people stop and think about what life is all about and to enjoy it to the fullest.
Thank you, Hayden, for giving me this gift, for giving this gift to thousands of people all over the world.
- Ady Dorsett, Hayden’s Mom