Little Blaze Henry Johnson gets a kiss from his mother, Katherine, moments after being born March 9.

In a ‘Blaze’ of motherhood

Published 3:00am Saturday, May 12, 2012

For the last nine weeks, Katherine Johnson has been by her newborn son’s side. That’s not unusual for any new mother, but for Kathrine, every day of that time has been spent in a hospital.Blaze Henry Johnson, born March 9 at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Fla., has undergone a series of surgical procedures in an effort to correct a heart problem – all in the first two months of his life.
Blaze was born with a condition that basically left him one chamber short in his heart. Surgery to create a chamber would be necessary, or death would be likely for the newborn.
Following his first surgery at Sacred Heart, Blaze was flown to Atlanta to receive more specialized care at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egelsten. During his hospitalization in Pensacola and in Atlanta, Katherine and Chris Johnson have been by their son’s side every day of his life.
The first weeks of being a mother are nothing like Katherine had envisioned as she enjoyed a trouble-free pregnancy and birth.
“This is a complete 180 of what we expected,” Katherine said. “We thought we’d be taking our new son home after a few days and that certainly isn’t what happened. At five days old, he had his first surgery. We even thought we’d be going home after his recovery then. We figured a month and we’d be doing normal baby care at home. But we’re still spending our life in a hospital.”
Blaze has undergone two additional surgeries since then — and the recovery continues.
The infant underwent the third surgery performed in hopes of correcting his heart issues just last week. Katherine, who herself is a nurse, said the recovery is going well, so far.
“Being a nurse, I know just enough to make me scared, but not enough to truly understand everything that’s happening,” Katherine said. “I’m a nurse, but not a heart nurse. I don’t work pediatrics all the time, so there is a lot I still don’t know.”
Chris said his wife has truly put on the “mother” hat in a way he expected her to do.
“Katherine never leaves his side,” Chris said. “She is either reading to him, holding his hand, rubbing his head or just talking to him. She is to me what a mother should be. I know it is hard on her not being able to hold him but she is still doing the ‘mothering’ thing.”
Katherine said some family members plan to make a visit to the Children’s Hospital Sunday to steal her away for a Mother’s Day dinner.
“I’ve only left for a little while a couple of times,” Katherine said. “But, my family will be here to take me out for a dinner this Sunday night.”
As Blaze continues to recover, Katherine continues to do exactly what any mother would do — stay with her child. That constant presence at the hospital and with her son has taught her, and her husband, an important lesson — patience.
“We talk to some of the other parents that are going through some tough times just like us,” Katherine said. “We give them some advice and that’s just to have patience. This isn’t about us; it isn’t about the doctors or the nurses. This is all about our child. We have to be patient with the process. He’ll get better in his own time and it takes patience to understand and get through this. God needed us to learn the lesson of patience and we have.”
The extensive care that has been required in Blaze’s short life is creating a mountain of medical expenses and bills.
Two accounts have been established to allow those who would like to help an opportunity to do so.
Contributions can be made at Regions to the Baby Blaze Fan Club account or at PenAir Federal Credit Union to the Blaze Henry Johnson account.
To follow Blaze’s progress, fans are invited to join the Baby Blaze Fan Club page on Facebook.

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