Every prayer answered
Lindsey Sater didn’t buy diapers or baby clothes before her son, Trennen, was born. She didn’t want to come home from the hospital and look at the tiny onesies or the empty nursery.
“We didn’t think he was going to make it,” she said.
Just a few months earlier, Lindsey was filled with joy when the ultrasound revealed that her second child was a boy. But when the ultrasongrapher took more than 30 minutes to check the images of the baby, she knew something wasn’t right.
She was told her baby had holoprosencephaly, and that his brain didn’t divide into two hemispheres. Most babies die before birth or are born with severe facial deformities. The doctor suggested the family terminate the pregnancy.
“It was never even an option. I couldn’t imagine living with myself,” Lindsey said.
Lindsey went home and sat on her couch for 24 hours. Having moved to Bentonville, Ark., just the month before, Lindsey didn’t have any friends or extended family nearby. Fetal medicine specialists recommended the family move to Little Rock, Ark., or Memphis, Tenn., to give her child the optimal shot at life.
She chose Memphis – the city where she’d grown up and already had a large support network. The Saturday after Thanksgiving, Trennen arrived. When the doctor held Trennen up for Lindsey to see, she was floored by what she saw.
“His face looked normal. I asked if he was going to live. They said ‘yes.’ Every prayer I ever prayed was answered,” Lindsey said.
Trennen did not have holoprosencephaly. However, he was diagnosed with spina bifida, a condition in which the spinal cord fails to develop properly. Trennen was rushed to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital for surgery to close the skin over his spinal cord.
As Lindsey waited to recover to join Trennen at Le Bonheur, a nurse asked if she’d be up for a visit from another nurse who had a child with spina bifida. Lindsey knew nothing about spina bifida and welcomed the visit. The nurse was Courtney Smith, whose son, Carter, is now 8 (see story on page 3). Courtney shared her journey – the doctors, the surgeries, how she learned to advocate for her son. She gave Lindsey a roadmap for Trennen.
Now 3, Trennen has a team of people at Le Bonheur helping him thrive. He receives occupational, speech and physical therapy, early intervention and inclusion support, so he can attend school while Lindsey works. Trennen was in the hospital in February for surgery to fix a shunt that helps drain fluid from his brain. Later this year he’ll have surgery on his feet to help reconstruct the bones in one foot and move the one tendon he has feeling in into the center of the foot to help lift his ankle while he walks.
“I’d be lost without Le Bonheur. I was so overwhelmed by his diagnosis. Le Bonheur Early Intervention and Development was my lifeline and my lighthouse as I learned to advocate for Trennen,” Lindsey said.
Sweet Trennen lights up the room. He’s known on the 7th floor for flirting with the nurses. He leans out his room and says “Hey ladies” to get their attention. Trennen also loves racing down the hall to the playroom. Lindsey tears up seeing him go. Trennen’s feet are paralyzed. He was born with club feet and spent more than a year in casts. Trennen wasn’t supposed to walk, but now he is taking 20 steps without assistance, thanks to a team of people at Le Bonheur and a bit of a miracle.