Has it really been a year already? A year ago today my baby had the heart surgery that saved her life.
Looking at my smiling girl, tucked into my arms, I say “baby” and touch her little chest. And she beams an enormous toothless grin, thrilled to be my baby girl. Under the smooth white scar rests her tiny beating heart; strong, solid, growing, perfect. The patches are holding, the valves show no leakage. A perfect repair.
Even though she’s had this new and improved heart for most of her life by now, it still feels like yesterday that she was white and gray instead of pink, that she couldn’t eat more than ½ ounce by mouth, that she sweated through her clothes just by trying to breathe, the skin around her ribcage sucking in with each breath. It doesn’t seem that long ago that we waited in fear for the day of her surgery, feeling like it would never come, knowing it was the only way she would be able to survive. So very afraid.
We knew that it’s usually a successful procedure, that the risk of death is less than 5%. I’d try to hide the statistician in my mind who bubbled up a few times to tell me that she had had a smaller chance of having Down syndrome than she did of dying during open heart surgery. I’d shove that little voice down deep, but I could still hear it whispering. When we signed the consent form, the surgeon had written three words down under risks: bleeding, infection, death. Of course you try and keep your mind away from that third word. You are afraid to even think it. Realistically you don’t think that it will happen, but you know that it could. And could is enough to paralyze you.
I am not the only mother who has handed off her infant, kissed her sleeping head while holding back tears and prayed to see her breathing in just a few hours.
And breathing she certainly was. Even on the ventilator and covered with tubes, she was pink for the first time, finally able to circulate her blood properly. Within a couple of days she was able to eat, really eat. Within a week she was nursing, even after we'd been resigned to bottles and feeding tubes.
And in the last 12 months she has done so much. She’s been capturing hearts with her silly smiles. Lord knows that she has me wrapped around every pudgy finger on each of her little hands.
She is stubborn, she is silly. She is smart and she is beautiful.
I am so thankful for the gift she is in my life. I am beyond grateful to the cardiologist who cared for her, for the surgeon whose hands repaired that tiniest of hearts, for the doctors and therapists who help her achieve her potential, and for all of the people who love her and have prayed for her.
I am grateful for everything that she is. I wouldn’t change any of it. I wouldn’t erase that little scar or wipe away the memory of my own fear. I will be forever grateful that one year ago today the doctors saved my own heart when they repaired hers.
Happy 1st Heart Day, my beautiful girl!
And to Celebrate... A Giveaway!
To celebrate the one year anniversary of my sweetie girl's perfectly repaired heart, a few little things donated by some of the people who love Cora the most:
- A handmade heart applique shirt, lovingly made by Cora's Grammie Melanie (and yes... it's like the one Cora is wearing above, but in blue and red!) The winner will get to choose the size onesie or shirt that it comes on.
- Antique Copper Book Locket Necklace by Cora's "Aunt" Christine. Christine was the first person (other than birthing staff and me and Nick) to hold little baby Cora. She snuggled her in tight for hours while we all slept. And even more, Cora shares her Heart Day with Aunt Teenie's Birthday! (Happy Birthday to my beautiful Twinnie!) Visit Christine's shop Teeniebirdie on Etsy for more fun finds.
- A beautiful little flower, handmade by my sister Mira. This can be put on a headband or a clip. Winner's choice!
- And a set of two white flower baby barrettes made by me.
To enter the Giveaway drawing, just leave a comment on today's post, and become a follower of Our Cora Bean (if you aren't already). The winners will be chosen at random and announced on Wednesday, April 11th. (After we come back from our Easter weekend to Victoria, B.C.)