Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Lots of things have been making me think of hearts lately...  besides the fact that both of my babies are getting their hearts checked today, and that it is heart month and CHD Awareness week, and Valentine's Day is coming up.  Whew!  That's a lot of HEARTS all at one time.  Bear with me through these analogies as I journal to work through all the thoughts swimming around in my head...
Andrew's latest movie obsession... E.T.  I never really thought about it until we watched the movie about 20 times in the past 3 days!  E.T.'s heart glows at different times throughout the movie.  As he is bidding farewell to Elliot, he says "I'll be right here."  In his heart.  How often do we think about what's actually in our hearts?  A lot more than just blood and vessels and ventricles.  I know that Jesus is in Andrew's heart.  Along with his Grandpa Bill.  And they'll both be holding it in their hands while the surgeons expose it in a short 2 weeks, much like E.T.'s.

What's in our hearts?  Another activity I do with my kids every year is a "Map of My Heart."  They divide their "heart" up into pieces that are strategically sized according to how much of their heart each item takes up.

I've always done it as a Valentine's Day activity, but the past few years it has taken on new meaning.  This week when I showed my class an old sample of a map of MY heart from when I first started teaching (12 years ago), I almost giggled.  Many of the things have remained the same- family and friends taking up a huge part of the heart puzzle.  One of my favorite ones from my past was "exercising."  Ha!  If only I had the time and energy to actually make that a part of my heart today!  Lol.  Today if I were to draw a map of my heart, it would look so much different.  It is amazing to think about how much things have changed and priorities change as you become a wife, mother... a HEART mother.  Andrew has changed my heart in more ways than I can count.  And I am so grateful for the lessons he's taught me.  I challenge everyone to make a map of their heart this month.  Do it with your children and your families.  It really makes you think (Note: this is not a homework assignment!  Just something to do for fun.  Ha!)

Things weighing heavily on my heart this week:

This afternoon we make the drive to Iowa City.  Our very first appointment is our fetal echo.  Since the day I found out I was pregnant, I knew this day would eventually come.  There hasn't been a day I haven't thought about the possibility of having another child with a heart defect.  I am pretty sure I couldn't handle going through this again.  I know so many other families that do... double cardiology appointments, sending both of your babies to surgery, monitoring both your children for signs of heart failure... I don't know how they do it.  People often ask us how we do what we do.  But the truth could be so much worse.  And it is for so many.  We are just praying that God won't give us more than we can handle.  We so appreciate the prayers being sent up for us!  I'll try to update between our appointment and Andrew's cath on Thursday, but we will be having a lot of fun going out to dinner and swimming in our hotel (we got the "ok" to take Andrew in the pool and he's going to be thrilled!)

I'd also have to say that Andrew's surgery is now on the forefront of my mind.  I'm not sure I'm ready for this again...
Surgery #1- February 6, 2007 (7 days old)

Surgery #2 (complete repair)- August 17, 2007 (that's the same puppy he's holding.  I think we'll bring it along for this surgery too, so we can see how much bigger he is.  In the first picture the puppy was as big as he was, and it is just a small beanie baby!)

The first question in my mind on Earth do we explain this to Andrew?  How do we prepare him to come out of the OR with a fresh scar running down his chest?  The one he has now is so faded it is hardly noticable anymore.  I'm not sure my eyes are prepared for the sight of it again.  I'll never forget how I felt the first time I saw it.  I wanted so badly to protect him from it.  To remove it from professional photographs.  Just "erase" it like it didn't exist.  As time went on, I slowly began to realize how proud I am of that scar.  It is Andrew's "mark" on the world.
And soon I wanted to flaunt it!  To show the world what a BRAVE little boy he is, and that we are so PROUD of the things he's endured.  It isn't something to hide, but something to be proud of.  And we will always teach Andrew to feel the same way about it.  It doesn't make him "different" from everyone else... it just makes him "special."  And brave.

We've started talking about it to prepare him.  I have lots of books about the hospital that I've collected over the years, and we've been looking at his past surgery pictures together and talking about how the doctor is going to fix his heart again.  It is heart breaking to have to explain this to him, but just like Andrew always does, he chooses to think of the bright side.  The other day he said "Mommy, when I go to the hospital then you and daddy will buy that movie for me?"  Ha!  He is going to be slightly spoiled (like he's not already!  Ha!)  But I seriously want to give him everything he wants, to make up for what he's going to have to go through.  Lately he has been obsessed with the movie Stuart Little (both 1 and 2).  He loves the bird, Margalo, from SL 2. 
 He has been asking for the bird, and he said "Mommy?  I go to hospital first, then you will buy that bird for me, right mommy?"  I told him I didn't know where to get the bird and he suggested Walmart!  Ha!  Later that night I looked it up online and the only toy Margalos I could find were $40 bucks on ebay!  Apparently they are very rare and hard to find.  No kidding!  So I am on a search for a cheaper version... because I want him to have it (and $40 bucks buys about 2 meals of hospital food for us out of a week's worth!).  But Andrew deserves it!  Right now if he asked me to jump off a building for him I'd pretty much do it.  I think it is partly guilt, because we made the choice to bring him into the world this way, knowing he had a heart condition that would cause him to have a lifetime of surgeries.  I hope that someday he can understand why we did it.  And that he has a very special purpose in this life.  He can change the world.

And we believe that someday he will.

I think my fourth grade student summed it up best when she wrote a card for Andrew at school yesterday.  The card said:


I think that speaks to all of us.  Andrew is definitely braver than me.  Those words really spoke to my heart when I read them.  I have been thinking of that phrase over and over again tonight.  It is just so amazing to think about...if you really think about it.  A very smart fourth grader realized the incredible amount of bravery it would take to endure open heart surgery...not just once, but three times.

Will you help these brave children fighting CHD every day?  Will you help by raising awareness?  Tell someone about Andrew... about all the CHD  children you know and how brave they are.  So many heart related things are occurring for us this month... our fetal echo, Andrew's cath and surgery... the timing couldn't be more appropriate.  I pray that you will be encouraged to spread awareness this month. That you will follow Andrew's journey and it touches you enough to ask someone else to follow it too.  The more people who know about CHD, the better the future is for our kids.  Please join us on this journey.

A Little Monkey Business

Thank you so much those of you who have posted this brave little face on your blogs already!  Here it is again for those who would like to post it.  I appreciate it so much!

Andrew's name means "Warrior, courageous, valiant."
I couldn't think of a more fitting way to describe him.
These jammies also made me think of Andrew- pirate (we've always related that to his scar) and the heart eye patch.  Quite symbolic, and couldn't be more fitting!

Get ready to fight, Andrew!

Do not be afraid of them; the LORD your God himself will fight for you.”
Deuteronomy 3:22

To help spread more awareness, my husband Craig was interviewed on our friend Stefenie's blog today! Go here to read our story from a dad's perspective!

Related Posts with Thumbnails