My oldest gal is 10 in a few days. That means that it has been almost 10 years since my darling girl graced us with her presence. 10 years since she went into heart failure. 10 years since we took her to Vancouver Children’s Hospital. 10 years since she had her first surgery. 10 years since we spent a month in a hospital room.
10 years since my life was changed unimaginably.
Nevaeh had Double Outlet Right Ventricle, a hole in her heart, and a branching coronary artery. She went into heart failure and had closed heart surgery when she was nearly 3 weeks old. She would not be able to grow any bigger without slowing down the blood flow. The purpose of the procedure was to enable her body to grow large enough for her open heart surgery. That was scheduled for when she was only 8.5 months.
Shortly after her first surgery she acquired a blood infection that kept her hospitalized for a month.
It was terrifying.
In our time at Children’s I met a lot of people. I met a couple with a daughter who had a condition similar to Nevaeh’s. We celebrated with a family that was breathing a sigh of relief after the cancer of their 3 year old daughter/sister was removed. A hug was given to a father who was just informed his son had mere days left to live. I played Scrabble with an 8 year old child who casually informed me that he likely wouldn’t live past the age of 30. My eyes locked with a mother whose child had just passed away.
There was a quick realization that the mountain that I felt my baby and I were facing was an anthill to most of the families there. My child would survive and grow and get to live the rest of her life.
I knew some wouldn’t.
I felt guilty at the notion that this comparatively minor condition of Nevaeh’s was causing as much pain and anxiety as it was for me. The idea that ” it could be worse” never rang so true for me as it did upon meeting some of these families.
I learned to breathe.
I learned to focus on the positive.
My mountain got smaller as I witnessed those around me take on their challenges head on. I watched as they bravely listened to the doctor explain that their child would need yet another procedure. I watched as they prepared for the worst and prayed for the best.
We left that hospital with a fixed heart and a brand new understanding.
Yesterday was Nevaeh’s routine checkup. As we waited to be seen I spoke with mothers as they held their babies in their arms and the tears back in their eyes and told me of the hardships they were yet to face.
And offered empathetic smiles.
They were facing their mountain.
I said nothing other than assured them that Children’s Hospital was the best possible place that their child could be.
After all, it saved the life of mine.
I owe my child’s life to this amazing facility. The child who wakes up every morning with a smile on her face. Who tells me I’m the best mommy in the world. The child who entertains her baby sister while I cook dinner and who keeps her little sisters (mostly) out of trouble. This is a child who voluntarily gives her tooth fairy money and the money she’s collected in lieu of gifts for her birthday, to the Children’s Hospital jar that sits in our kitchen.
The child who is one of the reasons my life is as beautiful as it is.
Thank you ,Children’s Hospital, for saving my world.
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