It was eight years ago almost to the day, that I was in my prenatal appointment getting an ultrasound of my unborn child when everything changed in an instant. My son was playing innocently in the corner of the doctor’s office while I lay with my large belly exposed. I remember the moment when the technician set the ultrasound wand down and left the room to get the doctor.
“Is there something wrong?” I asked when the doctor sat down and began reviewing still frame images of the small child within me. The flutter of the heart appeared like a trapped butterfly on the screen.
Then my worst fears were realized.
“Yes.” With that one answer, our lives changed.
My daughter, like so many other children was born with heart defects. She is what I consider to be- lucky. She came home without oxygen or any complicated equipment after two-days in the hospital following her birth. But she has had two open-heart surgeries.
The first was at a year old. When I first saw her swollen, puffy face in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, and the various tubes sticking out of her abdomen, all I wanted to do was hold her. She would reach out to me, wanting to be with her mommy, and it would take the efforts of many nurses to move her to my lap. The only comfort I felt was knowing she was near me. One by one, the tubes were removed and we went home to raise a precocious toddler.
Her second surgery was at four-years-old. She was no longer a baby who did not know what was happening, she was frightened and wanted me near her as much as possible. A couple hours out of surgery, while I lay beside her in the recovery bed, her blood pressure dropped and her veins collapsed. Helpless and paralyzed lying beside my sweet little girl, I watched six nurses stand around us, pushing blood and fluids into her body. If asked, I would have given everything, even myself to save her.
Helplessness is lonely. It is like being shipwrecked on an island, far from home. I clung to the thought that everything would be fine; she wouldn’t die, she couldn’t. I never allowed myself to go to the point of despair, I needed to be strong for my children and family and mostly, for myself.
I can look back at those days in the hospital and it’s almost like replaying a movie. I can recall different moments, both happy and sad. Like when we had to practically empty a bottle of detangler to brush out her ratty hair, the day she wouldn’t speak at all (not even to me) and laying beside her each night in her hospital bed, holding her close.
How did everything turn out? Fantastic. After a bumpy recovery she moved forward without looking back. You may be surprised to learn she was on her bike the day she got home from the hospital. As I hear the sounds of her playing with her friend now, I am thankful for the gift of her life. I am telling you my own story as a reminder to appreciate the ones you love and to share a story fitting for Heart Awareness Month and the month of love.
It was my own experiences that inspired me to write a novel about a girl with a heart condition who finds herself in a desperate point in her treatment. Ana is a young woman without hope of a future or of finding love. She is eager for a fresh start from pitying eyes. At the point of helplessness, she meets a mysterious young man, whose notice she is unable to escape. Soon, she suspects she isn’t the only one keeping secrets. But will her heart be able to handle the truth?
To read an excerpt of Fledgling, The Shapeshifter Chronicles, you can find it in the Amazon Kindle store- http://www.amazon.com/Fledgling-The-Shapeshifter-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B006XM426C/ref=sr_1_68?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1327174914&sr=1-68
During the month of love, I send you my warm wishes. Hold your sweethearts, family & friends close, because it is every moment of now that it counts.
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