Dewey Butler had a rough entrance to this world but his parents got to learn that it wasn’t without a purpose.
Katie and Josh Butler have always wanted a big family, “13 kids” according to an old bucket list of Josh’s Katie found.
“I come from a big family,” said Katie. “Josh was also very family-oriented, and that attracted me to him.”
So when the Nashville couple were ready to start their own little family, they were excited and well-prepared. The Butler’s even scheduled the pregnancy so that Katie, a schoolteacher, could spend the summertime with the new baby.
“We actually timed it pretty well,” she said. “We found out we were pregnant in September 2014.”
But their world turned upside down when doctors discovered via ultrasound that their 20-week-old baby Dewey had a rare, never before documented genetic disorder.
Doctors made a devastating discovery during an ultrasound.
“In January 2015, we went in, and they told us there was some thickening of the neck and that the baby had club feet,” she explained. “Those were all markers for genetic conditions.”
As they continued to monitor Dewey’s progress, doctors didn’t know what to do, all they knew was that Dewey would be a “special baby,” according to The Advertiser.
Katie underwent weekly ultrasounds with her specialist but every week the results were the same.
They revealed Dewey with clenched hands, and his heart beat was usually difficult to find.
Eventually doctors decided it would be best to induce Katie—at 39 weeks gestation.
Dewey’s heart rate was dropping fast, so doctors performed an emergency C-section and found Dewey’s umbilical cord, which looked like it was only 20 weeks gestation, wrapped around the baby’s neck several times.
It was a rough way to enter the world but Dewey was here, and his mother held him for a few sweet moments before he was rushed away to NICU.
Things only seemed to get worse from there.
Dewey was indeed born with club feet, a webbed neck, and “was missing some genetic information and some was duplicated.”
“At one point, he didn’t need any air, and then all of a sudden, his trachea collapsed,” Katie recalled. “They had to press the code button at least eight times. He got a tracheostomy, he was on a ventilator, and we were working toward the goal of getting him a G-tube. At that point, he could go home. We prayed for it, but it seemed like one thing after another. It was actually a blessing, though, that he wasn’t ready for the G-tube because we got an extra month and a half with him.”
Then one day while undergoing a G-tube surgery, Dewey’s heart went into an irregular rhythm and he passed away on the operating table after only 132 days of life.
The couple was devastated. They were told that Dewey’s condition was genetic so having more children was probably a bad idea. Heartbroken and destroyed, Katie hoped for another child to love. But the Butler’s “knew that God was preparing [them] for something with Dewey.”
Then they overheard something too meaningful to be a coincidence.
One of the nurses at the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital called Katie and said there was an abandoned baby to be released from the hospital and he needed a family. He was staying on the 5th floor, just one above Dewey’s, and he even shared similar medical problems as Dewey, but Katie and Josh didn’t care.
The Butlers didn’t believe it was a coincidence, they believed it was a miracle.
“Right away I knew it was an answer to a prayer,” said Katie.
The couple wasn’t intimidated by all the medical equipment. In fact, they felt that Dewey’s short life was preparing them for Braxtel.
“Like Dewey, Brax was on a ventilator and had a trach, and when doctors told us, we were like, ‘We got this.’ With Dewey, there was no chance of his lungs getting better, but with Braxtel, he could get better. It was an optimistic situation,” Katie said.
Braxtel had been deserted by his parents because of the genetic conditions he was born with, which were similar to Dewey’s.
He needs a breathing tube and communicates through sign language. Braxtel, now 2, shares the same medical equipment the Butler’s had used for Dewey.
They went to hospital and met Braxtel a few days after that phone call and fell in love with him right away. They fostered the baby boy and adopted him soon after. Then it was finally time to take their new baby boy home and it was Braxtel’s first time out of the hospital since his birth in December 2014.
“I love that he’s with us and that he gets a chance” said Josh.
“Josh and I jumped on the opportunity to take Brax in and to love on him.” Katie added “He just brings us so much joy.”
Losing and gaining a son has only made the Butlers expand their hearts, learn a lot, and strengthen their marriage.
“Caring for Brax has not in any way replaced our loss of Dewey,” Josh said. “Rather, Braxtel has given us a reason to keep fighting and to keep loving. It would be so easy to lose hope and to be depressed. Even though we tend toward selfishness, Braxtel helps us to remember that our lives are not about us first but putting others first.”
Katie and Josh have gone through dark and sad times together but they say that has only strengthened their love and marriage.
“It’s absolutely made our marriage stronger,” said Katie. “We’re more in tune with each other’s feelings, and it helps keep things in perspective.”
The couple shared their story on Monday nights episode of American Ninja Warrior, hoping to help others remember that there is a purpose to even the darkest of times if you only remember that.