ST. LOUIS -- It's been quite a year for T.J. Oshie.
The St. Louis Blues right wing became an instant sensation after his shootout exhibition for the United States against Russia at the 2014 Sochi Olympics in which he scored four of six times during a 3-2 shootout victory. He became engaged to girlfriend Lauren Cosgrove and was soon a first-time father, when Cosgrove delivered the couple's first child, a girl named Lyla Grace, on March 17.
Those are moments people treasure for the rest of their lives, and Oshie will continue to make more memories with his daughter. There was a major obstacle at the beginning of her young life though.
While there were no complications with the actual birth of their firstborn child, Oshie and Cosgrove were immediately faced with a big challenge as parents - one that required surgery for their daughter.
Lyla Oshie was born with gastroschisis, a condition in which an infant's intestines are on the outside of the body. Babies with this condition have a hole in the abdominal wall, and the intestines usually protrude through the hole. Lyla Oshie's condition was detected during an ultrasound.
"We found out at 13 weeks," Oshie said. "We went through all the steps and the whole process: Before the birth, when Lyla was born and then what would go on after. They said it could have been anywhere from six weeks to two years in the hospital, so we really didn't know."
But unlike the old days, when the condition could be fatal, there is now a 90 percent survival rate after a child has surgery immediately after birth, as doctors are able to put the bowel inside the body and close the wound and defect.
Since Lyla Oshie's surgery, all has gone according to plan.
"It was scary going through it all, but the doctors and surgeons were doing such a great job," Oshie said. "We met with them beforehand. I guess it's as comfortable as you can be with your firstborn having to go through something like this. I think we did a pretty good job of staying positive and just kind of taking it day-by-day and hour-by-hour, and spend as much time with her as you could.
"Everything looks great. Let's cross our fingers, but she's been doing great. She's way ahead of the curve. Every obstacle it seems like they've thrown at her, she's jumped right over it and moved on to the next one. She's feeding, her stomach's all closed up, we're able to hold her, she doesn't have any IVs anymore, a feeding tube or breathing tube."
When Lyla was born, Oshie and Cosgrove could not hold their daughter right away, but each has been a regular at the pediatric-care unit at St. Louis Children's Hospital, where Lyla has been since birth. It has been Oshie's home away from home, except for the time he spends at the rink with the Blues as they continue their march toward the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Oshie has somehow been able to keep his focus on his work with the Blues while also caring for the well-being of his daughter. The new parents' families have been in St. Louis to lend support, and having an extended family in teammates, coaches, management, the training staff and everyone else Oshie deals with on a daily basis at the rink has been a tremendous help.
"It's huge, especially when this year there's going to be three instances of guys being fathers, me one of them," said Blues defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, whose wife will deliver the couple's first child, also a daughter, within the next couple weeks.
Blues center Maxim Lapierre also became a first-time father to a daughter in late February.
"You're always hoping for the best," Colaiacovo said. "You hear about things like that and not really sure what to expect. I know in talking to [Oshie] he was still nervous about everything when it was time to happen. He was excited about Lyla coming and being a dad. Everyone was really happy for him. When it happened, everyone was praying for success. Everything I've been hearing from him and talking to him about it, everything is going great as expected, which is what you want to hear.
"She's a fighter and obviously he's been there for her since Day 1. It's nice to see the progress that she's making and hopefully she gets to come home soon."
The Blues will have Oshie in the lineup when they face the Chicago Blackhawks as part of the NBC Game of the Week on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET). His play has not been negatively impacted by the time he's spent tending to his daughter's condition.
"I've just been focusing there," said Oshie, who is tied with Alexander Steen for the team lead in points. "I come to the rink here, don't really think about it too much. I'm kind of just playing a free mind at the rink here.
"All my teammates and coaches here and [Blues general manager Doug Armstrong] as well, the trainers, everyone's really been supportive of me. They all know. [Armstrong] and [Blues coach Ken Hitchcock] said right away that if there's any time where I've got to be there, family comes first. It was great having them behind me and having their support."
Lyla Oshie is now able to eat normally.
"The worst is behind us," Oshie said. "We're hoping that she can come home Monday. If she does, she'll just be like any normal baby."
And just like any proud parent, Oshie can become a fixture in changing diapers, which he has no issues doing if it means Lyla is healthy and doing well.
"Oh, I've been changing diapers," Oshie said, laughing. "The first poopy diaper wasn't for a while. It was mostly IV fluid. I've had a couple good experiences already, no explosions down the arm or anything.
"Me and Lauren cheered when we found the first poopy diaper because that's a sign of things going well."
The cycle will be complete when the parents can take their little girl home.
"My little girl's strong," Oshie said. "She definitely has her mother in her … maybe a little Oshie blood. I didn't hold her until she was … might have been a week when I held her for the first time. We were able to kiss her and say hi to her.
"It's going to be nice to just sit on the couch, watch The Masters and have her on my chest."
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