When I think back to last October, I am reminded of what a pivotal month it was for me. The month started with me questioning the health of my 8 week old child, having nagging thoughts about his breathing, a respiratory infection or a breathing issue of some sort. Something didn't seem right. And although I've had these nagging feelings for two months at this point, they nagged further and deeper into my heart that something was off with my first, beautiful, perfect new baby.
Then, on October 8th, Elliott was clearly not feeling well. The week before I had caught a cold and clearly I had given it to my 8 week old. He didn't want to eat much. On October 9th, I called to make an appointment with a different pediatrician as I was having insurance issues with my preferred doctor, and took him in to this new doctor around 10 am.
Everything thing changed that morning, from the moment we walked into the doctor's office. I took off Elliott's sleeper to weigh him, it was cold in there, and he started to cry. Hard. He turned purple, and the nurse felt she needed to have the doctor look at him right then and there. The doctor walked in and freaked out seeing his color worsen, hooked him up to oxygen, and called an ambulance. She felt he was in some sort of respiratory distress and needed to be taken to the children's hospital right away. So I called my husband, sobbing, and climbed into the ambulance with my little boy.
The rest of that day was a whirlwind. I watched my child's stats change from okay, to bad, to very bad. I watched them put him on a ventilator. I watched them sedate him. Poke him with IVs. They explained that they were admitting him to the ICU, but they didn't know what was going on yet. I told them I was certain he had a cold, and part of me wondered why it was blown so out of proportion. He just had a cold! Infants get colds, don't they? Later that evening, it was communicated to us that the nurse charged with Elliott's care thought she heard a heart murmur. Tests. Elliott had some kind of heart defect. They were performing an echo-cardiogram on the spot to find out more.
Heart defect. On October 9, 2012, late in the day, I learned the reason behind those nagging thoughts in the back of my mind my first eight weeks of becoming a mom. Elliott was not okay, he had a heart defect. His breathing was weird because he had a heart defect. He was slightly less active, more tired, ate poorly, because he had a heart defect. In an odd way, I was relieved to have a diagnosis, and a path of care to correct things. As crazy as it all was, it was a relief to know what the next steps were. My life had significantly altered that day, more so than the day Elliott was actually born. Life as a mom began in a way it hadn't on his birthday. It became apparent to me that day that the sleepless nights, the physical pain, and the sense of self I had lost over the eight weeks prior in my days as a first time mom was not about me at all. I was a heart mom. I was responsible for a precious, fragile life, and it was eye-opening.
The rest of October was intense. A lot of heartache, pain, and moments of triumph too. November was similarly hectic (the month Elliott had heart surgery), but I can't help but think that truly it was in October that everything changed in my life. When I thing about it, October does have further significance for me. I reunited with my husband Taylor on October 18, 2003, three years after our short-term, immature, dating relationship had ended. That means in just a few weeks, Taylor and I will have been together for 10 years. And now, at nearly 40 weeks pregnant and ready to pop at any moment it's hard to deny the further significance October has to hold: the birth of our beautiful baby girl. Our second child, our first daughter. Life will begin again in a different way on the October day that she decides to join us on earth.
I can't deny it, October, you've brought me so many blessings in my life already. And yet you continue to bring me more. Hello October!