On December 15, 2016, Dash finally traded the hospital for his real home. Nearly six months after his birth, his breathing had stabilized and fevers had subsided, thanks to a medicine allergy diagnosis that occurred after a mom, who followed Alissa on Instagram, suggested a diuretic could be the cause of the fevers.
Determined to have the moment most mothers experience with their newborns, Alissa left NewYork-Presbyterian in a wheelchair, holding her baby.
“I waved like I was Miss America to anyone who would look at me,” she says.
Dash hasn’t been hospitalized since his first birthday in June 2017, when he underwent a second open-heart surgery to repair the tetralogy of Fallot defects. While he’ll need ongoing medical care and might require another surgery around age 8 to 10, his overall prognosis is excellent, according to Dr. Emile Bacha, director of pediatric cardiac surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, and chief of the division of cardiac, thoracic, and vascular surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “Dash’s cardiac diagnosis was very complex and unusual,” says Dr. Bacha. “He has pulled through with flying colors.”
These days, Dash is a healthy 20-month-old who is crawling everywhere but likes being cuddled too. He always seems happy and still has a spike of strawberry-blond hair.
Hugo, Marlo, and Sabine argue over who gets to spend more time with Dash, wanting to hold him, feed him, read stories, and make him laugh.
“Seeing and watching all of Dashiel’s therapists and learning what we should do with Dashiel is great because we need to help Mom with those things,” says big sister Sabine. “If she asks for a diaper, no matter if we want to or not, we should go straight for the diaper or wipes — whatever Mom wants for us to get to Dashiel.”
“It’s just fun making him laugh,” says Hugo, “mostly because he has the biggest smile I’ve ever seen.”
“I love that I can make him smile and play with him,” adds Marlo, “and I can hold him and feed him.”
When the family plays music for Dash, all three of his siblings sing along.
“It’s hard to get kids to agree about anything,” Cesar says, “but they can all agree that Dash is No. 1.”
The Baptistas couldn’t have imagined how long it would take to become a family of six. But having endured so much uncertainty, fear, and time apart, Alissa knows Dash is the child they always wanted.
“We were happy before, but our family was missing him,” she says. “He was supposed to be with us.”