Story of Healing
“Each day is like a pothole. You’re going to hit them, just keep trying to go straight,” jokes Bastrop native, Heather Deshazo, as she sits with her baby boy in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Children’s Hospital New Orleans.
Rewinding to earlier last month, Heather was working as a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at St. Francis Medical Center in Monroe, Louisiana. Thankful to be steps away from the nearest delivery room during one of her shifts, Heather began having major contractions at just 25 weeks pregnant. She would soon learn she was experiencing a placental abruption and was rushed to surgery for an emergency c-section.
On October 3, 2021, her son, Asher, was born. During her 20-week ultrasound, Heather and her husband learned their son would be born with cleft feet. What they didn’t know is Asher would also have arm contractures due to a tissue disorder known as arthrogryposis. Experts at St. Francis analyzed Asher and concluded he needed extra care, so they immediately contacted Children’s Hospital New Orleans. The Children’s Transport team was on their way aboard helicopter, Abby, and Asher was carefully delivered to uptown New Orleans and cared for in the NICU.
“I knew he needed to be transported to have better care from the nursing aspect in me. He needed genetics, ortho, GI, and neonatologists all in one place, and he can get that here. But as a mom, it was hard to sit back and watch this play out,” explains Heather.
Because of Asher’s tissue disorder, his extremities will be affected in life and need to be managed long term through occupational therapy, physical therapy, and other types of care for him to have a better quality of life. As Heather continues to learn about Asher’s needs, she says she is thankful for the NICU team who is always on standby to not only deliver the proper care, but also lend an ear.
“I have to give a shout out to Dr. Olister, Dr. Mumphrey, and Dr. Tufton. They stayed updating me on a daily basis where I always felt aware,” says Heather. “The nursing staff has also been awesome. They take the time out to listen and make sure he’s truly okay and that we’re okay as a family.”
With two other children, Heather says the NICU has become a home away from home while Asher heals, and she hopes to have her entire family together back in Bastrop once Asher is cleared to go home.
“We will be here for a while,” shares Heather. “If he continues to improve, he should be here until the end of December or the beginning of January when he’s term. We are praying he continues to go in the right direction.”
Though Heather continues to face moments of uncertainty, she wants to encourage other NICU families to stay strong through the journey.
“Don’t give up. Hold on to your faith. Hold on to your family, close. And most importantly, be thankful for the little moments.”