Heart Failure Saved My Soul

St. Matt's Community   -  

Hindsight is 20/20, especially with my faith journey. Growing up, I never attended church. Despite a vague sense there was a God, He wasn’t mentioned, prayed to, or thanked. Others had religious beliefs, but it wasn’t for me. This suited me just fine until my life changed forever on July 15, 2012.

My second child was five days old. My dog, Baylee, woke me from a much-needed nap, grunting and licking my arm. Initially I ignored her peculiar behaviour, but she persisted. So I checked to make sure the baby was okay, then realized I was the one barely breathing.

After rushing to the hospital, seven hours battling for every breath, and the terror of not knowing what was wrong, a random cardiologist passing through ER figured it out. I had a rare pregnancy-related heart condition called peripartum cardiomyopathy—basically congestive heart failure. “You’re lucky that dog woke you up,” he said. Full recovery took nineteen months and the help of an excellent team of nurses at the heart function clinic, my coaches at cardiac rehab, and my dedicated cardiologist.

Recovery wasn’t just a physical journey though. I found myself growing spiritually and felt pleasantly surprised. In the early days at the hospital, knowing everyone at St. Matt’s was praying for me mysteriously brightened my spirits. I started attending church services, and this warm community instantly welcomed me. It felt like family.

Through strong leadership, spiritual guidance, and a perfectly timed Alpha program[1], I realized I’d been searching my entire life for spiritual sustenance. But something was still missing. I longed to have another child, and, for the first time in my life, I prayed.

I prayed that God would bless me with a child and complete my family. I remained hopeful and put my trust in the Lord—despite many closed doors—

and He answered with the strongest, most heroic person I had ever met. An incredible woman looking for a family to adopt her baby. He was born and placed in my arms on March 14, 2015. This beautiful, healthy, baby boy was the answer to my first prayer.

Now, when I look back on my life, I see what was always there. God. The way everything lined up for me to be where I am today is incredible—Baylee, the dog we weren’t even supposed to get; the cardiologist who just happened to be passing through ER; the kind welcoming of St. Matt’s; prayer and a friend hearing my plea; an unselfish gift from the best mother I know. It all lead to me here now, with my family, my faith, and an abundance of love. And I mean that with every ounce of my fully functioning heart.

By Shantelle Hampton

[1] Link to https://www.anglican.ca/resources/alpha/