65HillFamily042614April 8th, 2011, we lost our son Nate. Nate taught us that the measure of one’s life isn’t defined by the time spent here on earth, but by the lives that we influence while we are here.

My husband and I always wanted a big family, so Nate was the last to fill that wish. My pregnancy was great and easy. There was never any reason for us to think that anything was less than perfect. We did not know if we were having a boy or girl, but our children ages 6, 4, 2, were anticipating a boy to make the household even. When I went into labor, it was my easiest and fastest. When he arrived I looked at him and noticed he was less alert and more quiet than the other kids at birth. I asked the nurse, “Why is he blue?”… and she tried to calm my concern by telling me that most babies are. My motherly instinct was telling me different. We held him for five minutes before he headed to the nursery for a bath and would be back later that afternoon. About an hour later, they came in and told us that they thought Nate had a heart murmur, but lots of babies do and that he would be okay. They assured us that we would see him in a few hours.   Now we were told he was in distress. His heart rate was fast and they had called in the pediatrician.

My husband stayed up all night reading the Bible aloud outside the nursery window, just watching Nate’s little chest rise and fall. In the morning the doctor came in and said that a specialist from VCU Health Systems was coming. I knew then that Nate was not going to make it. After hours of testing the doctors came in and told us that Nate had aortic stenosis. The doctor was so self-assured that we would go to VCU to do a simple surgery and Nate would be fine. He had done so many of these procedures before. The doctor sat there and told us that Nate would never be able to be an active child, he could never be hit in the chest, and he would need multiple surgeries. When someone is telling you everything that your child wouldn’t be able to do, who is less than 24 hours old, it is very overwhelming. God had a different plan for Nate’s life and it didn’t agree with ours.113

We traveled to VCU, where Nate was going to have his surgery. The surgery was fast and a success, but in a matter of five minutes everything had gotten worse. Nate had gone so many hours with his condition undiagnosed. The doctors explained it as if Nate had been running a marathon for 27 hours and now his heart was tired. The doctor was beside himself because he could not save him, apologizing over and over. As the time was drawing near we asked if he would pray with us in the waiting room outside the operating room. We knew that no one but God could save him, and He was calling Nate home. My husband and I felt an indescribable pain, but we knew that God was with us every step of the way.

Through this tragedy, God allowed us to see blessings from Nate’s life and gave us this opportunity to reach out to you. If God would have asked me then, would you give your son up so you can help other families and so people could have the opportunity to know God is? then that would have been hard to answer.  Now I can say that I wouldn’t trade this journey for anything. It was meant for Nate’s condition to be discovered the way it was. People have tried to say, ” if they only would have caught it earlier” or “why wasn’t a specialist called in sooner?” That is where we try to analyze God’s plan and in some cases we will never know His divine plan. We have received letters from nurses and doctors apologizing that they couldn’t save him. The doctors and nurses will forever be changed and armed with the knowledge that these are not always routine procedures and they are ultimately not in control.

My husband and I wanted to pass along the story of our son Nate so everyone knows the loving nature of God and realize that the measure of one’s life isn’t defined by the time spent here on earth, but by the lives we influence while we are here. Having a relationship with Jesus is how we got through our time and continue to. That doesn’t mean is still isn’t hard. We have days of sadness and grief but we know that God is holding us tight in His arms, pouring love on us. When we first lost Nate, it felt as if everyone was looking at us, like they knew we were the family that lost the baby. We knew that wasn’t the case at all, it just felt that way. Our focus now was how was our life going to be and what was the “new normal” going to look like.

Stepping out in faith we were blessed with another baby boy. Our pregnancy was much different this time, followed by doctors and knowing that we needed God more than ever to get us through this unknown journey. Questions would arise, “Will he be okay?and “what are the chances of this baby having a heart condition?” We fully trusted God’s plan and knew that God’s will would be our will. Our baby was born three weeks early, on Easter weekend, April 7th, 2012, one year to the day that Nate was born. I had never gone into natural labor before. The first four children I had been induced. This can only be described as a miracle.

We hope that our story helps you and your family feel that you are not alone.


This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it   John 11:4

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