It was the hardest thing Ive ever had to do, handing you over to the anesthesiologist for your heart surgery. Watching them walk down the long corridor wheeling you away from me. I can still hear the echo of the steps of the team of doctors in that stark, white hallway…..leaving me to wonder if I’d ever have you breathing in my arms again. There is an emotional pain that pierces so deeply that there are physical symptoms. I don’t know if I could have stood on my own feet without your daddy there to support me.
I wanted to sit alone in the dim silence of the waiting room. I felt out of it. Like I was living in a bad dream I couldn’t wake myself from. But daddy knew I needed to escape the walls of the hospital that were closing in on us. We tried to stomach breakfast. Hominy Grill in Charleston. I picked at grits but couldn’t stomach anything. We wandered aimlessly through Target. Daddy bought you a little teddy-bear. Something that could stay with you at nights when we had to leave you alone at the hospital.
We drove together, your daddy and I, hands clasped so tightly. Tears. Silence. Exhaling prayers with every breath. I carried your little hat in my coat pocket all day. It smelled like you. It was my “security blanket” to hold onto when my hands ached to hold you.
Every couple hours, our pager would go off….an update from the physicians assistant. We knew dozens and dozens of people praying and we felt the support of so many carrying us through the endless hours. The wait, knowing you were on bypass was excruciating. Would Dr. Bradley be able to repair your tiny strawberry-sized heart and reattach angel-hair arteries? Would your weary heart function after a repair requiring it to do what it wasn’t designed for? Would your little warring heart have the strength to beat again? Would we have the strength for what was ahead…..whatever that was?
We were siting on the pier in huge swings overlooking a beautiful expanse of water when the page came through we’d been waiting for. “We’re closing her up…..she should be finished in an hour” Thank you Jesus!! We rushed back to the hospital and waited in the PCICU waiting room watching the seconds tick by on the clock. A nurse came and called us into a consultation room. When Dr. Bradley walked into the room, my heart sank. His eyes were completely bloodshot and I had this wave of nausea sweet over me – certain that something had gone wrong. Only later did I realize that the tremendous strain I saw in his eyes was only that of a man who had spent 8 hours in tedious work. A man of few words, he offered gentle assurance that everything had gone well.
The nurse took time preparing us for what we would see when we finally got to go back with you. She explained about the effects of trauma and that you’d be puffy and heavily sedated for a good while longer. She detailed what all the lines and wires were for and told us not to be alarmed by the drainage tubes. She told us they had been able to close your chest (which was a big praise, because for some babies, they have to wait to close the chest until the swelling goes down a couple days later). She warned us it would be hard to see you….and it was…..but nothing has ever been more beautiful than seeing you my dear……alive and fighting! We struggled to find even an inch of your body that didnt have probes or attachments, just so we could touch you.
That day was awful…..and beautiful at the same time. We were far from in the clear, but our girl now had a chance for survival with a heart that was no longer broken. Heart surgery was the first painful step in a very long road to being a healthy baby.
And so my child, we celebrate today. We celebrate your “heart-iversary” with cake.
Because we like cake.
And because you’ve earned it!! Because we’ve been blessed with 84 months of miracles and memories. Because you have been the bravest, strongest, most grace-infused child I’ve ever known. Because we’ve had 2,567 beautiful sunrises that we’ve thanked God for your life. Happy Heart-iversary my love!! May you continue to grow in grace and beauty and knowledge of Gods hand so evident on your life. May you bring glory to Him all of your days!