Each year around this time people's thoughts are most often occupied with expressions of love.…
8 years ago today I brought my first-born baby girl home. It was not your typical homecoming, and she was anything but a typical baby. She was hardly even a newborn anymore, given that she was 2 days shy of being one month old by the time we were heading home.
Many parents are excited to bring their baby home, start their new chapter as parents, settle into the carefully decorated nursery, meet other moms and babies and everything else that comes with being a first time parent.
Not us. We were terrified to bring our sweet baby home. For the past month she had been cared for by professionals. Doctors and nurses who were highly trained to provide for the needs of babies like ours.
For those of you who don’t know, Adri was born with multiple congenital heart defects (CHDs). I won’t go into details here, I have written extensively about her story before, and you can read more here.
We had spent most of the time before and after Adri’s open heart surgery at BC Children’s Hospital where she was monitored and cared for around the clock, and going home – with my husband and work and family across the country – I felt woefully unprepared, and completely overwhelmed.
Looking back now, 8 years later, I am eternally grateful for my daughter’s complete recovery and good health. She is a thriving, active, funny and kind 8-year-old, and I am blessed beyond words to have her.
If I could speak to my terrified self from 8 years ago I would say “Be thankful. Savour every moment you have with your precious baby”. Because the sad reality is so many parent who give birth to babies with CHDs just like my daughter, end up going home with empty arms. We lose children to CHDs all to often. I see the messages these heartbroken families post on the various support groups I belong to, and I am devastated with every one.
February 7th-14th is CHD Awareness Week, and throughout January and February I often do something to mark the occasion and raise awareness in my own little way. This year I wanted to dedicate that time and space to sharing the amazing stories of all our heart angels and their brave families. I want them to know their precious babies aren’t forgotten and that we can come together to mourn with them, and lift them up at the same time.
Stay tuned for the first story coming shortly, and if you know someone who would like to share their journey, please send them my way!