Friday, April 6, 2012

Cora's First Heart Day and a Giveaway!

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.)


  1. Happy heart day Cora! I've been watching you grow for the last several months, after my own special girl was brought to our lives. She is beautiful and gives me such hope that our little girl will be celebrating her own happy heart day next year. Thanks you for sharing. And, I am also a Christine and my baby sister used to call me Stennie. It made me smile big to see that special nickname.

  2. Happy heart day, beautiful Cora! We are happy you are doing so well and you are heart healthy!

  3. Poor little tube-ridden sweet girl with chubby cheeks ;--) Glad she is much more robust now! ~nvm

  4. Happy heart day, Cora!!! I always say that Hailey's heart day is the absolute worst and best day of my life all at the same time. Cora, I'm not sure if your mommy knows this or not, but reading about your surgery helped me get through Hailey's. I will always be appreciative of your mom's blog!

    Can't wait to keep following how great you are doing!!!

  5. Happy Heart Day!!!! We will be celebrating E's first heart day in Aug. :)

  6. Oh happy day, you brave little heart warrior! We are so glad for your fight and spunk!

  7. Happy Heart Day, Cora! I love your heart shirt and babylegs. :) Way to celebrate in style!

    We're still waiting to see if/when Ben might need surgery. I'm hoping that he won't need it at all, but the waiting is hard. Reading about Cora - and how she is thriving - encourages me.

  8. That little Cora, she is one tough little girl. Happy 1st Heart Day...And Happy Easter Weekend :)

  9. Sweet Cora, sweet Leah. My heart is so full as I read about your struggles and your amazing feats. Always sending your family love and support, the Dean family so looks forward to the day when we get to meet, and introduce our crazy boys to, the incredible Cora.

  10. Happy Birthday to her!!!!!!!!!!!! Love love her beautiful blue eyes! My youngest is named Lily Cora so I just love your daughter's name! Gorgeous giveaway gifts! Especially love the book necklace since I am a librarian! To many more birthdays!

  11. Enjoy your trip! I have recently found your blog and really enjoy it! Happy 1st Heart Day, Cora!!

  12. Happy belated heart day Cora! We are so thankful for your healthy heart . . . and you know Ben hopes to capture it someday:)

  13. Oh my goodness she has changed! I remember meeting you guys before this time! Also, I love her leggings!!! Happy Belated Heart Day Cora! Yay for heart surgery!


Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me!