Born with Half A Heart

I remember very clearly when my friend Nicole came up to me and said, “Kell, I need to tell you something. There’s something wrong with the baby.”

My eyes flew to her not yet swollen belly.

Nicole went on to tell me that her unborn child had a rare and serious heart condition called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. Basically, her baby only had half a heart and the only way to give this baby a chance of life, was for Nicole, her husband and their son Jack to move to Melbourne in order for this child to have specialist surgery in the fist days after birth.

Sam’s Heart

Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome: Sam's HeartSince that conversation, Nicole Watson and her family have walked an amazing road. In Nicole’s own words, the journey has been one of “faith, obedience and the miracles that follow”.  Nicole’s book, Sam’s Heart, follows this journey, right from the shock at the first scan, throughout the operations to the transitions in family life for the Watsons.

The average human heart beats 100,000 times a day. 

Sam’s heart beats 200,000 times a day.

Sam’s Heart is written like a diary, bringing together recalled memories, inspiring words and encouraging scriptures with personal photos and snippets of  the  online diary Nicole wrote during the ordeal. This makes the book very real, raw and emotional because many parts are in real time. The book is both heart breaking and uplifting.

Below are some snippets I love from the book.

Only One Option

“I thanked the doctor for his honesty and we advised him that we would go ahead with the surgery. To us there was only one option and we were going to give it everything we had. This baby deserved a chance at life.”

Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome: pregnant nicole

A new life

“I remember when Sam was born I was able to hold him, all wrapped up, for a very short time before they took him away to the Special Care Nursery. Moments were stolen from us. Moments like savouring the softness and smell of my newborn baby. Watching his eyes look around in amazement at the new world he was in, letting him nuzzle at my breast and showing him that I was his Mummy.”

Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome: sam's birth

The operation

“I wonder if you have ever seen a human heart beating with your naked eye. When we first saw Sam after his first surgery his chest was still open, covered only by a big clear plastic adhesive. I could clearly see his little heart beating flat out. It was here that God reminded me how magnificent his creation is, how perfectly everything works together and how his life-giving power sustain it all. It also made me thankful for the amazing team of hospital staff that attended to his every need.”

Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome: the operation

The journey continues

“Our journey with Sam is far from over, and yet we have such joy and peace in our circumstances. Sometimes we can’t see the rainbow because we focus too much on the storm. Look for the blessing that is surrounding you every day and thank God for it.”

Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome: the family

The Book

I was thrilled when Nicole told me she was writing a book (published by Even Before Publishing). Not only does Sam’s Heart show the journey of an amazing, yet everyday family, it demonstration of a life lived, not by rules and religion but by faith. And that is a beautiful thing. I was so encouraged.

Follow Nicole

You can buy Nicole’s book on her website or at Koorong

Follow her on Facebook

Follow her blog: Come Follow the Watsons

Nicole Watson -- Sam's Heart


**Giveaway now closed. Winner has been notified by email**

I want to give this encouraging book to one of my readers. If you would like enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment below.


1. Open internationally.

2. Giveaway closes 7 September.

3. Winner will be chosen by random number and notified by email.

Thank you Nicole for your bright smile, encouraging words and sharing your journey.

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  • Reply
    Leanne Ferris
    August 31, 2011 at 9:09 am

    Hi, I am a registered nurse, midwife, manager, wife, sister, aunt and best friend, but mostly, I a am a mum. I have worked in Intensive Care Nurseries and Paediatric Cardiac units throughout my nursing career and always my heart tugs at stories like the Watson’s. I love that Nicole had the courage and temerity to share their journey and I thank her that she has now given a resource for any other family going through similar situations.

  • Reply
    Amanda Frankenberry
    August 31, 2011 at 10:05 am

    I was so touched by this story the first time ever reading about it. I am a mother of two girls with our first boy due October 12. I can not begin to imagine what Nicole and her husband have been through but it is clear that there faith in God is what keeps them going. I love that they believed God to perform a miracle rather than listen to all the negative advice that I am sure was sent there way. I thank you Nicole and your husband for sharing your incredible story and for sharing your faith with so many others! I have your news feed up on my facebook page and say a little prayer for your family every time I see a new post from you.

  • Reply
    August 31, 2011 at 10:12 am

    “It was here that God reminded me how magnificent his creation is, how perfectly everything works together and how his life-giving power sustain it all.”

    This quote bought tears to my eyes. How amazingly strong her faith is, to look to God and praise Him despite the stress and chaos and frustration that she must have been feeling. This book is on my must-read list.

  • Reply
    Melissa O'Brien
    August 31, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    What an amazing story of faith. I am a Mother of two with number three due 27th November — and this story just reminds me to look at the positives: “Sometimes we can’t see the rainbow because we focus too much on the storm”. We have had a few ups and downs this pregnancy and I will carry this with me always. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Reply
    August 31, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    This brought tears to my eyes. I only have one daughter as of yet, but it is a great fear of mine and any mother for her child not to be born 100% healthy. Well done on writing a book, sharing your story will certainly encourage other mothers that it is not the end of the world when something is not right.

  • Reply
    August 31, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Such an encouraging story! Well done on writing a book on the special journey through special care and heart surgery. My baby has a thyroid condition and that seems quite easy to deal with compared to heart problems.

  • Reply
    Debra Dane
    August 31, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    Thank you for sharing this story. One of my oldest friends back home in the States shares her struggles with me as her younger son was born with Hypoplastic left heart syndrome as well. I would love to win the book for her. I know she has connected with lots of moms in the states with similar stories, but I imagine she would treasure this book.

  • Reply
    Angela Griffiths
    August 31, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    WOW!! Good on you for sharing your story. My daughter is now 12 years old and has Hyperplastic Left Heart also. She has had 4 open heart surgeries and another to have soon. I will be following you on facebook and your blog with interest. All the best for you and your family for the future 🙂

  • Reply
    Nicole Watson
    August 31, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    Wow! Thank you to of the lovely readers that have left encouragements here today. May each of you and your families be blessed. Thank you Kell, for sharing our story with your readers. Each of us has a story to tell, each one unique and inspiring. It is important that we share our stories, and encourage one another along the way.

    ¸.•´¸.•*¨) ¸.•*¨)
    (¸.•´ (¸.•´ .•´ ¸¸.•¨¯`Nicole

    • Reply
      Angela Griffiths
      September 1, 2011 at 8:42 am

      Good Morning Nicole

      Yes I do agree with you totally that sharing and talking about our own experiences especially the people that have been on similar journeys as ourselves gives us great encouragement and helps us through some tough times. Most of all is a great supporting tool 🙂

  • Reply
    September 1, 2011 at 12:06 am

    Don’t enter me others need this book more than me. It sounds a very precious story to read.

  • Reply
    Nadine McCrow
    September 2, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Thank you for writing this book, I can’t wait to read it! I lost my daughter to HLHS on December 2, 2009. She was 4 1/2 months old. I also can’t wait to share your book with my fellow heart moms. <3

    • Reply
      Nicole Watson
      September 3, 2011 at 6:34 pm

      Hi Nadine,

      I am so sorry you lost your precious little girl. I hope our story is of some encouragement to you.

      Bless you heaps
      Nicole <3

  • Reply
    September 2, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    such courage!

  • Reply
    September 6, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Hi, I just found this blog via another blog, loved it so have subscribed to and in doing so, found this post. Immediately I was thought it was a book I’d love to read as I love true real stories with people’s struggles and faith that helps them through, but ultimately that shows God’s love and protection for and over us.

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