Son’s CHD Diagnosis Gives Dad a Deeper Appreciation of Fatherhood

Hearing a diagnosis of CHD about your unborn baby can be scary as parents face the unknown, but finding a pediatric cardiologist who you can trust makes a big difference. This was true for Joey and Chelsey when they first met William Border, MD, at Sibley Heart Center Cardiology.

Born in December 2021, Beau was diagnosed with Complete atrioventricular canal defect (CAVC) and Down Syndrome. While they hoped to get Beau to 4 to 6 months old before he needed surgery, it was determined he was experiencing heart failure in January and the repair was done immediately. He spent another four weeks in the hospital, with his mom constantly by his side and dad taking care of things at home with his two sisters, who are 7 and 2. Dr. Border helped them navigate that uncertain time in the hospital and prepared them to care for their baby at home when the time came.

“Dr. Border is so personable, and I love that he cares about Beau and his best interests,” Joey said. “Everyone at Sibley goes out of their way to be an active part of your child’s care team. They make sure you understand things fully and have all your questions answered.”

Chelsey and Joey said the Kids at Heart program has allowed them to network with other kids and families in the same boat and provided a whole new community that understands in a way no one else can. Chelsey also found the Down Syndrome Association of Atlanta (DSAA), which connects her with many local moms and kids like Beau.

Joey, with two daughters who are daddy’s girls, made sure he and Chelsey prepared them well for what they could expect from Beau’s CHD diagnosis.

“We told them in simple terms that their brother’s heart was sick, and that he needed an operation to help it work better,” Joey said. “His sisters were naturally concerned, but we tried to ease their minds the best that we could. Our oldest is a little mother to him now, and they both love ‘their’ baby.”

 

Joey and Chelsey say they have a rule between them that they can’t lose it on the same day. They lean on each other and friends and family when things get hard. Joey said having a child with CHD has deepened his perspective on fatherhood.

“It’s helped me to appreciate life and my children that much more,” Joey said. “It reminded me how fragile and precious life can be. We appreciate our kids and our time together under the same roof.”

For more information about Sibley Heart Center Cardiology and our pediatric cardiology specialists, click here.