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“Here’s our little domestic church,” says Britta. Joseph is second from left.

My Mercy Child

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By Britta Pitocchelli Hammond

My second child and first son, Joseph Frank Hammond, was born Oct. 5, 2007, at 3:02 p.m. That is to say, he was born on St. Faustina's feast day, during the 3 o'clock hour, the Hour of Great Mercy. It quickly became apparent we would need St. Faustina's intercession. Joseph was born with a wildly racing heart, clinically known as super-ventricular tachycardia.

My husband, Strother, and I were unaware that anything was wrong with our baby when we entered the doctor's office for a 36-week prenatal check up. In fact, we had come bearing gifts of baked goods for the doctors and staff in celebration of the fact that I had made it to the thirty-sixth week.

When the nurse put the ultrasound wand on my abdomen, we saw the grave look on her face. She immediately called for the doctor and told us that, although our child's heartbeat was just over 200 beats per minute and that an in utero infant's heart rate can often climb into the 170-180 range, 200-plus was just too high to ignore or to chalk up to "white coat" nerves by Mom.

I was sent to the hospital for an immediate C-section. God's mercy shone through at that difficult moment. The physician on call at the hospital was the same doctor who had delivered our first child in 2005. She told us that our baby (we choose not to find out the gender before the birth) was behaving quite normally despite having a heart rate like he was running laps in the womb!

Of course, we were relieved, and soon enough I was laid out on the operating table. I realized that it must have been close to 3 p.m. As was my habit, I started praying a Rosary on my fingers and then moved into the Divine Mercy Chaplet. My husband was right by my head, quietly praying with me as he watched closely over the curtain to see our baby come into this world.

A couple minutes after 3 p.m., we heard it: a very loud-pitched wail followed by a few short cries, then repeated. The doctor yelled, "It's a boy!" My husband gave a wide grin and leaned down to kiss me. They swaddled Joseph up, very quickly brought him to my head for a kiss, and then whisked him off in an isolette, surrounded by a team of doctors and nurses who chatted and laughed. A sigh of merciful relief washed over me. I came to find out that chatter and laughter is often part of the training for medical staffers in a tense emergency situation like the one Joseph was in as he entered this world. The upbeat mood keeps the staff, the baby, and the parents as much at ease as is possible since the prognosis is not yet known and a new life, however fragile, has just been born! Mercy takes place daily in operating rooms around the world.

Joseph was given two shots of adenosine, which set his heart rate back to normal. He was put on medication to keep the wild heartbeat from happening again. But upon his first birthday, he was suddenly hospitalized because the medicine was causing him to miss six seconds between heartbeats. God's mercy was upon us again, as the hospital proved to be the best place for Joseph to wean off of that medicine.

During his first year of life, I looked back and remembered when I had been introduced to St. Faustina and her revelations of the Merciful Lord. It was in 2004. I attended all of the Divine Mercy novena services and the Mass on Divine Mercy Sunday. At that point, we were childless, and I remember praying so fervently that God would bless us with children — and abundantly.

When I learned that the miracle attributed to St. Faustina's intercession (which led to her canonization) was that of a priest who had been cured of a heart condition, I was sure God was at work in Joseph's healing. I knew that God had plans, that St. Faustina's Divine Mercy revelations had been for me, for us as a family, and truly for the whole world.

By the way, Joseph has a prayer corner in his room where he chose to put a Divine Mercy Image.

Britta Pitocchelli Hammond and her family live in Land O' Lakes, Florida.

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Family - Oct 13, 2016

Such a beautiful blessing from heaven. Congratulations on your beautiful family. St. Faustina, please pray for us and the whole world. God only knows we're in desperate need of His Mercy and Divine Graces. Please pray for my family who has drifted away from their Catholic faith, that they come back home. Amen