thankfulness, and a heartiversary.
The following post includes an excerpt from a post I wrote on Facebook a few days ago. I am sorry if this is a duplicate post for some of you readers, but I wanted to expand my thoughts a bit during this very important month of November.
We like to write a lot about thankfulness and gratitude during the month of November, and reflect daily on all the things we're grateful for. I have so many things to be grateful for, and to reflect only in November would be to take for granted all of these things over the remaining months. If October was the month that brought goodness and changes, November was the month I truly learned about thankfulness. Thankfulness beyond material things, thankfulness for life and love and for things there are no words for.
On November 12, 2012, we were preparing ourselves emotionally to send our baby boy into heart surgery. We were emotional and scared, but grateful there was a plan available to heal our son.
On November 13, we sent our son into the operating room. I wasn't nervous, I was numb. I am grateful the day went smoothly and that there were no surprises.
The following day, November 14, we witnessed something no parent should have to see. Elliott coded and went into cardiac arrest. We were pulled to his side as we waited for the surgeon to get there, thinking we may be saying goodbye to our little boy. I am grateful for the surgeon who opened Elliott up on the spot and pulled out the blood clot that almost killed him.
The remaining days were some of the most emotional days I've ever encountered in my life. Elliott was extubated a few days later but couldn't handle it, and was reintubated. I am grateful he was eventually extubated a few weeks later and talks of a trach were squashed. I watched as another child in the unit coded, died, and was resuscitated. I am grateful for the team that saved that little girl's life. On my birthday, November 30, Elliott failed his swallow test and we learned he was coming home with a feeding tube. I am grateful that on the same day, he smiled at me for the first time in weeks. And a few days later Elliott came home, with the tube, some scars, and his entire life ahead of him.
On Thanksgiving Day last year I found myself flying with a multitude of emotions. Leaving my son for a few hours to share a Thanksgiving feast was not how I planned on spending that particular Thanksgiving Day. Later that evening I sat in the cafeteria with my laptop during the nurse shift change drinking cold coffee, writing this post and reflecting on thankfulness and gratitude. Nothing has changed, except that on that particular day I was overcome with a sense of sadness and trying so hard to be grateful. I was grateful, don't get me wrong, but when you're in the thick of a medical war, contradicting emotions pile up and suffocate you. On that day I was thankful my son was still alive, but I was fighting with the loss of my old, normal, naive, healthy life. My son was very sick on his first Thanksgiving, I couldn't hold him on his first Thanksgiving, and it was hard to cope with the fact that that had become our new reality.
In hindsight now, I can't help but know how truly blessed we are. It's glaringly obvious. How much I truly have to be grateful for. I think about a fellow heart mom that lives just an hours drive from me, who has been reflecting gratitude on a daily basis while she thinks about her little heart hero in heaven. That is heavy. That is gratitude. I can't even begin to know what she feels and yet she still has thankfulness in her heart. I should be doing the same. Not just today or on Thanksgiving Day, not just in November. Every day. Every moment. With every breath, I should be recognizing gratitude. I am still learning about gratitude, but I am eager. I find thankfulness in every moment with my children, every cuddle, every smile, every learned skill and every tear. I am thankful my baby boy is alive. I am thankful that my daughter is heart healthy. I am thankful I was able to hold my new baby girl as I watched my son take his first unassisted steps. I am thankful to God, for family, for friends, for love, for prayer, for life. I am thankful, always.
Today marks one year since my son's first open heart surgery. It's his heartiversary! And evermore, I find strength in the gratitude for milestones like these that makes my heart swell. Life is good, we have so much. Life is beatiful.
Happy 1st Heartiversary, my baby boy. I love you. I am so proud.