Wandering Heart

hvanmil18 comments5555 views
Image found at
Image found at

I love this quote. I think it captures a tiny bit of the helplessness parents often feel, the lack of control over situations big and little. It should continue on however, to mention that that heart walking around outside your body will take a battering; will be bruised, stomped on, broken. I wish someone had given me a heads up about just how much this parenting thing hurts!

My first lesson in parenting pains came much sooner then expected when Adri was born with CHD. There is no more helpless feeling in the world then standing by while a stranger (albiet a highly trained, very compassionate stranger), takes away your freshly born baby, not just to a different room but a different building, a different city, while you have to stay behind with nothing to do but hope and pray (and cry). My heart traveled very far that day.

The lessons came fast and furious through those first months, handing my baby over at 17 days to have open heart surgery; every MRI, x-ray, ECG, echo, and intubation bruised that heart just a bit more. The toughest were the blood tests. Every day poking my precious little girl, often multiple times as her tiny veins would collapse. I gave those lab assistants, nurses and doctors such a hard time, knowing that these tests were necessary to keep my baby healthy, but desperate to save her from yet another ordeal.

Somehow we both made it through. I think unconsciously I figured that after surviving that we could get through anything unfazed. Those more seasoned parents reading this will chuckle at my naivete I’m sure. All of Adri’s continuing medical challenges have been tough, no doubt about it, but  the procedures she’s faced have saved her life and continue to let her live the best, most healthy life. That makes it easier for us all I think.  It’s those ‘unecessary’ trials that really test the hardiness of this mama’s heart.

I don’t know if it’s recovery from pregnancy hormones, but I feel like there have been a lot more bumps and bruises on that little heart wandering outside my body. It all started with the hair incident, which many of you have heard about ad nauseum. Next was the discovery that Adri unexpectedly needed a significant amount of dental work done. After 2 successful visits (one for a filling and one for a root canal), we had a VERY awful failed extraction. As we’re leaving the dentist my courageous little girl looks up at me with teary eyes and says “I tried my hardest to be brave Mommy”. Ouch.

There are times, like the dentist and often other medical occasions, where I forget that she’s just 4 1/2. She’s so stoic, so mature, so patient and so brave that I often catch myself expecting more of her then is really fair for someone so young. Then there are times when it is painfully obvious just how small she really is.

Adri just started Kingergarten. Being an end of December baby, she is the youngest child in the entire school, and being small for her age she is literally the tiniest kid on the playground. I’ve been so thankful that she has an amazing teacher, and all of the kids in her class seem to be so friendly and welcoming. She’s made several close friends and really enjoys school. And yet this wandering heart took another bruising on the playground after school yesterday.

Normally during school time, there is a playground reserved exclusively for the 3 kindergarten classes. After school however, all bets are off. I’m not quite sure whose brilliant idea it was to equip this playground with a single tire swing for everyone to use, but such is the case. As always, my daughter is a stickler for the rules, and waits by the post to have a turn while 3 older children swing on it rambunctiously with a 4th pushing them. I watch from the side as my normally shy and quiet girl asks “May I have a turn to push?”. She didn’t even want to swing, just push. Being normal, energetic children surrounded by more energetic children, it was loud, and they didn’t hear her. So she kept repeating herself again and again, a little more loudly each time, but staying out of the reach of the wildly swinging bunch. Over and over “May I please have a turn to push?”. After a while I wasn’t sure if they simply could not hear her, or were purposefully ignoring her, when the girl pushing the swing ran over to Adri, shouted in her face, and then continued on pushing. I have no idea what was said, whether nice or not, but the act itself seemed aggressive. The girls Mom standing right there did nothing, chatting away to a friend. My heart broke as Adri paused for a minute, taken aback and then said “May I please have a turn to push?”.

Being a parent of a child in elementary school is obviously new to me. The rules seem different then parenting a child on a playground elsewhere. Parents are less engaged. They don’t play with their kids and they don’t interfere with situations either. Its constantly an internal battle for me, deciding if I should step in and advocate on my wee one’s behalf or let her find her feet and fight her own battles. She’s just so small you see, this little one who wanders around with my heart battered and bruised and broken as it is. I want to gather it in, keep her and my heart close, safe and free from pain. I know it’s not possible, that I have to let go, and that there are tougher challenges and bigger breaks on the horizon, so for now I’ll hold her close when I can before sending her off again, wandering around with my heart tucked away with her.


  1. As a NICU nurse and a mom myself, I can completely relate to wearing your heart on the outside. I think it is automatic from the moment you give birth. There is no way around it, but we, women, are strong enough to live through it. Finding the balance between letting our little ones fly on their own or helping them truly is the tough part! <3!

    1. Thank you for what you do! All the staff at Children’s Hospital here in Vancouver were amazing!! It was hard enough living through it once, I couldn’t do it everyday. Hats off to you!!

  2. I love this! You are so absolutely right! And I can imagine how difficult it might be for a kindergarten parent to have their baby girl start kindergarten. I do recess duty every day and know how hectic it can get.

  3. Oh Heather! I’m still a few months postpartum so I’m a little extra emotional these days, but my heart hurt for you too! Its HARD seeing our little loved ones go through tough times! Really hard!

  4. Reading your post almost brought me to tears, how your newborn had to go through so much and then on the playground at tire swing. Being it a parent is as difficult as it is rewarding.

  5. This made me tear up! My daughter is 18 months but already it breaks my heart a little when she tries to interact with the big kids and they ignore her. I know it’s all a part of growing up, but how do you know what to do?!

    I feel for you mamma!

  6. Heather I admire your strength . I couldnt imagine how you must of felt when your little one was born. And then again watching her on the playground. Nathaniel is going to go to kindergarten next year and that is one of my biggest fears how he will handle it. and how I will thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks for your comment! It’s funny I never expected that kindergarten would be such a big deal after she was in full day preschool for 2 years, but it is a while different ball game!! Good luck to you and Nathaniel 🙂

  7. I so hear you! My son is a bit language delayed and so his way of trying to engage kids is to come up close to them and smile shyly. Sometimes they respond but just as often they ignore him – it breaks my heart! I want to go pick him up and tell him he is the best little guy out there and I’ll play with him. One other thing in your post that moved me was your comment “Every day poking my precious little girl, often multiple times as her tiny veins would collapse.” My little man also had health issues as a newborn and we went through with the vein collapse and multiple pokes issue too – it was so hard watch and endure. Hearts outside our bodies is so true!

    1. That’s a great perspective! I was looking at it solely from the “ouch this hurts me” point of view, but I think it eases that knowing they have that bit of us with them always. Thanks for the insight!!

  8. I am so so scared of the mama bear I keep buried deep down flying out of me with claws out the first time someone even looks funny at my baby on the playground.

    I read that lovely heart quote years before I burped out my daughter but it always stuck with me.

    Your tremendous journey with your little girl is so inspiring – thank you for sharing!

Leave a Response