For the last several months, I have known in my heart that there was something wrong with Serious. I couldn't place it, I couldn't determine it, she didn't even show any signs that there was anything wrong. She is an image of perfect health. But still, I felt God's gentle whisper that there was something seriously wrong with her. Obviously we know that Serious isn't her real name. But her real name means Hope from the Stars. Meaning Hope comes from God. Out pediatrician here is amazing and has been my children's doctor since Sparkle was born five and a half years ago. She is thorough and passionate about her patients. And she remembers. Like an elephant that never forgets, neither does she. When Serious had her ten month check up, her doctor ordered an EKG and a chest x-ray. She said that her heart rate is extremely high for a baby out of the womb. Her heart rate usually checks in at 140-160 bpm. And she seems to suck in air and breathe heavily. Both tests came back normal. Her doctor faxed down the test results to the children's cardiology in a large city. One that is known around the country as one of the best in the nation. They even agreed that nothing was wrong. Still, it wasn't good enough for our doctor. And that is one decision that I will be eternally grateful for. She sent us down to the Children's Hospital. When we arrived for our appointment we were greeted with kind, professional personnel that knew their stuff. They did another EKG and then an ultrasound. The EKG came back normal...the ultrasound did not.
These were taken on my iPhone, so please forgive the bad photography. I'll have my camera at the hospital.
There is nothing on the planet that can prepare a mother to hear those awful words, "Your daughter has a very large hole in her heart." Even now the tears come and my chest tightens. "This doesn't happen to me." I think. "No. Not my child." "God, where are You?" A thousand other questions and reactions hit me all at once. I wanted to scream. I wanted to take Serious and hide her from the world. Maybe that would make this go away. My husband, Strong, sits clutching Sparkle. Stoic expression, just the facts, miss, if you don't mind. I feel like a panic attack. The cardiologist goes on to explain that her hole will not heal on it's own and that she will need open heart surgery. I want to scream obscenities at her like its her fault. I want to take that clipboard and smash it to pieces on the cold, paper covered bench. When you watch other people go through things like this, from cancer diagnosis to leukemia to AIDS, you think that they've always had to deal with it. That they've always known what their disease was all about. But when it hits you, you are totally unprepared and shocked.
The surgery is scheduled for January 4th, 2012. I am busily preparing for this trying time. I am overwhelmed by the loving support so many have shown my family. I am still receiving emails, text messages, facebook comments and face-to-face conversations from people asking what they can do to help. My mother-in-law is flying from Michigan to stay with Sparkle. She still has school and activities and events that she is committed to. I also think that her being down in the hospital with us, would be bad ju-ju. She is intensely attached to her sister. She loves her more than I have ever seen siblings love each other. Serious is just as in love with Sparkle. I think the images of Serious attached to wires and machines would haunt her for the rest of her life. I am praying that I am making the right choice and trying to make her days as much like our normal schedule as I can. I think it will be less traumatic for her. My dad is driving 1,700 miles to be by our side in the Ronald McDonald House next to the hospital. It is such an enormous relief to be surrounded by family that are serving and loving and doing what they can. My mom is in Florida and sending care packages to my girls and sending her love and support that way.
I have a special task for all those friends and family that have asked to help. Sparkle LOVES getting mail and packages. Its a very fun time in our house when the mail arrives. She's so much like me! That's why I shop online for almost everything. I love getting mail and packages!! I have asked that those people just send letters and cards and pictures and things their own children made or colored or anything else that would make Sparkle feel just as special. I know she is going to feel like she is missing out on something that is very important. I am going to send her a letter every single day that we are down in the hospital. I am also going to send her a special toy that she likes. She loves those mini princesses and squinkies and pretty much anything with small pieces. I am actually heading to Target tomorrow and picking up something to send to her.
One of my best friends and I were talking about taking her out for ice cream before and after her surgery as a special treat. Serious LOVES ice cream! Well, we did just that tonight. We all went out to McDonald's and celebrated life. We talked about lots of things like Kari and I usually do. Serious even said ice cream for her. I missed it completely since I was the one getting the ice cream. And our older girls enjoyed the snot out of the play-place. Sparkle even brushed her teeth and crawled in bed by herself. She was one pooped little girl! I am deeply appreciative of my friends and family. I am blown away by all your love. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you.
I have created a page that will have links to the posts about Serious and her hospital stay. I will post pictures as I am able. Its on the banner at the top of this page under "Serious."