Katie Dohman | 11.23.22
When Natalie Bushaw was awaiting the arrival of her twin babies in 2003, she never dreamed she’d be journaling about their health in 2022. That’s—count’em—almost 20 years of posts, comments, support and love.
“Even before the boys were born and the doctors didn’t think they’d make it into this world, let alone to a year old, I always knew they would,” she says of her unshakeable faith. “But I’ve also never looked far into the future. It seems weird to say we live in the moment, but we take things as they come and enjoy the blessings we’ve been given.”
The twins, Logan and Owen, were born June 23, 2003, and thus began a nearly two-decade fight for their best health. The monochorionic/monoamniotic twins—one of the rarest forms of identical twins—and each had multiple congenital defects. Logan was born with a severely underdeveloped heart, weak lungs and airways, and “his insides all a little backwards from what they should be.” Owen was born with duodenal atresia, in where his tummy and intestines weren’t connected—”an imperforate anus, or lack of a pooper shooter, as we called it, and a hypoplastic right thumb, wherein he had a thumb but it didn’t work,” Natalie explained on the journal. Between the two boys, they underwent 18 surgeries by the time they were just four years old. And that, obviously, wasn’t the end.
Logan has been through fungal infections, four open heart surgeries and two heart transplants, organ rejection, acute pancreatitis leading to all-organ failure (in which doctors predicted he may not survive). Again and again, Natalie turned to CaringBridge to chronicle the ups and downs.
Creating Bridges of Care and Connection
Thankfully, the Bushaws were not alone on their journey. Their CaringBridge journal amassed a following of “prayer warriors” from all chapters of their lives and strangers from around the world.
“I know that I wouldn’t—and we wouldn’t—be here without what CaringBridge has brought our family. I believe it with every ounce of my being,” said Natalie. “When I would read Logan comments in the hospital, there were certain ones where people shared just the right encouragement at just the right moment. Their support gave us what we needed to keep going.”
The support that the Bushaws received from their prayer warriors even went offline. One prayer warrior made a scrapbook, full of all the moments—the tough ones, the tenuous ones, the triumphant ones. “It’s literally the most amazing thing I’ve seen in my life,” Natalie says. “The friend who made it told me, in the fall of 2020 when we weren’t sure Logan was going to make it, that she wanted us to have something. She took all the tiny things and it has this beautiful ending, of a photo of him at 2:15 PM in the elevator, when we’re heading home. I cherish it.”
Healing is Ongoing
Healing, for the Bushaws, is an ongoing process, not a bow wrapped on a gift. “It’s a constant part of our life,” said Natalie. “As this is Logan’s life, healing doesn’t have a beginning and an end.”
Faith has been a constant source of strength for the Bushaw family. Natalie has frequently called out “Godcidence moments” when writing and ends her Journal entries with a favorite passage from the Bible, or even the lyrics of a favorite song or hymn. “My new mantra. When you see God SO clearly working, do these things: Stop. Soak it in. Smile. And give thanks,” said Natalie in a recent post. Owen, who is now in school to become a pastor, commented, “Whatever your tough stuff, God’s building your character and you can have hope.”
Celebration is another theme in their healing journey. Everything from birthdays to Logan’s Heartiversarys (the date when he received each of his new hearts) – July 21, 2016 and Dec. 22, 2019) are an ongoing celebration, and they chronicle the moments on CaringBridge. “Looking back at the posts on CaringBridge helps us reflect on how far we have come and how much Logan has overcome.” And, she says, looking back on older posts helps her reflect on the healing that has happened.
In addition, Logan and his family found healing by creating a foundation: Logan Loves. Through the many times that Logan has spent in the hospital, he became a “professional patient” and wanted to share some of his favorites with other children and families who spend time in the hospital. “Our mission is to bring joy and healing to kids and their families during hospital visits,” Natalie said.
Looking to the Future
In between the tough times, Owen and Logan have gone on vacations, learned to waterski, started jobs and excelled in school. Now 19, the boys continue to grow and thrive as adults. Owen is currently attending Northwestern University in St. Paul, where he is majoring in ministry. Logan is working at Life Time and is planning on college and started a podcast.
Logan continues to have ups and downs in his health journey, and Natalie hopes that he will someday take over her role as the primary author of their site. “CaringBridge has been very cathartic for me as an author, and I can’t imagine not having it as a part of our lives. I would LOVE to have Logan carry on and post, when he feels ready,” she said.
Natalie and Ben have become ensconced in a community of families facing difficult prognoses and offer support and advice. Natalie’s first piece of advice when she meets a family is to start a CaringBridge site—even if you’re still waiting to need it. “Have CaringBridge as a part of your treatment plan,” she suggests. “If you get it set up and start journaling and share it with others, it becomes a part of your treatment plan to heal rather than something you have to do. And, there’s nothing better than feeling surrounded by an army of prayer warriors along the way.”
Special thanks to Natalie Bushaw sharing just how much CaringBridge has helped her and her family throughout the last two decades.