Minutes after learning that his great-great grandson was about to be born, David Spaulding suffered a massive heart attack. The family grappled with the scary and the sweet in one day, and at the same hospital.
Thanks to quick intervention from doctors, Spaulding survived — and met the family's newest addition.
“Wham. There was no debate about it. I couldn’t breathe,” Spaulding, 85, of Cedar Springs, Michigan, told TODAY Parents. “I was immobile and couldn’t do much of anything.”
When Spaulding and his wife of 64 years, Dorothy, woke on May 30, it seemed like any other morning. They watched TV and talked until the phone rang at 7 a.m. Their great grandson Zach Fandrich, and his fiancée, Kristen Lattin, had called to let them know they were going to the hospital because Lattin was in labor. Then Spaulding suddenly turned gray.
“We were chatting away and happy,” Dorothy told TODAY. “Unexpectedly, Dave said ‘I don’t feel good.’”
Daughter Deb Spaulding rushed to her dad and told Dorothy to call 911. As they waited for an ambulance, Fandrich and Lattin were arriving to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids Michigan for labor and delivery. As Spaulding was loaded into the ambulance, all he could talk about was his new great-great grandson. The EMTs couldn't believe it — so they worried that the heart attack affected his thinking.
“They thought it was the anesthesia or he lost his mind,” Deb said while laughing.
The family didn’t want to worry the first-time parents, so they didn’t share the news. But when Fandrich’s mom, Kerri Sullivan, arrived to see how they were holding up, Fandrich suspected something was wrong.
“I didn’t want to tell them,” Sullivan told TODAY Parents. “That didn’t last long. They were like ‘What is wrong with you?’”
Lattin was four centimeters dilated and awaiting an epidural. Sullivan wondered how to share the news. She explained that Spaulding had a massive heart attack but he was on the cardiology floor in the hospital and he was stable.
“It was hard to deal with,” Lattin told TODAY. “But it was a motivation. Let’s have this baby. He needs to meet his great-great grandfather."
While Spaulding was stable and received what surgeon Dr. Richard McNamara called “the full metal jacket,” his health was still in a precarious state. It had been about two hours since Sullivan visited Fandrich and Lattin and they hadn’t heard any more news.
“I’m having a minor panic attack that my great grandfather had died,” Fandrich said. “I called the room and much to my surprise, Great-Grandpa answers.”
In typical grandparent form, Spaulding had one question.
“He said, ‘Is the baby here yet?’ That was the first thing out of his mouth,” Fandrich said. “He sounded basically back to normal. Not completely normal but better than I expected. I felt like the whole weight of the world lifted.”
Grayson David Fandrich was born at 6:28 p.m., weighing 6 pounds 10 ounces. Spaulding couldn't see the baby until he recovered fully but Fandrich and Lattin begged the nurses to let them take the baby to see him.
“He waited about 48 hours. It was the last day we were in the hospital,” Fandrich said.
And how was the first meeting?
“Heartwarming,” Lattin said.
“Beautiful,” Dorothy added.
“Magical,” Fandrich said.
Both Grayson and Spaulding are at home and thriving.
"We are very very blessed," Dorothy said. "How thankful we are that God has blessed us so much."