For another

“I’m at a payphone trying to call home, all of my change I spent on you!”

I sang at the top of my lungs and driving on the highway visit my OB.  I was desperately willing the movie gods to consider Adam Levine to play Christian Grey in the “Fifty Shades” trilogy.

*Sigh* A girl can dream…

I made the turn I had made many times before, into the medical plaza that was home to my OB that has been taking care of me since I was 18 years old.

Suddenly, my heart started to pound.  I couldn’t breathe.  My hands were sweaty.  I could feel tears starting to well up.

I quickly parked my car.  Turned up the air.

Why was I sweating?

I searched my purse for my phone.

Why were my hands shaking?

I dialed Craig’s work.  Needing to speak to him. To someone.

I was having a panic attack.

After a few tries, he finally picked up.  I could tell from his voice that he was having a doozy of a work day.  And he could tell from mine, something wasn’t right.

He told me to calm down and it would be ok.

I took a deep breath.  Closed my eyes.  Undid the seat belt and made my way through the doors of one of the last places of normal before our world was turned upside down with Evan’s diagnosis.

I was transferred to a high risk OB when we found out about Evan’s diagnosis.  Dr. M wasn’t equipped to handle the care I needed for – my then – unborn son.  I remember sitting in the exam room, Craig by my side, looking at the man that had brought my perfect daughter into this world, and saying our goodbye’s.  Leaving a man I trusted to care for me and my unborn child to someone I didn’t even know…just the first of many sacrifices I made on this heart journey for my boy.

The familiar scent of his waiting room, the dim lighting, the TV blaring the “Cooking Channel”…all brought back memories.  I couldn’t believe it hasn’t even been a year since I walked out these doors to my new life.

The staff recognized me immediately.  All their hellos a bit guarded. The last time I left this place I was inconsolable.  The outcome of my son’s birth was grim.

I signed in and Dr. M walked out to the office area to ask his nurse a question.

He said hello…did a double take…put the chart down that was in his hands, came over to me and said, “Girl…you are on my short list.  Do you know how worried I have been about you?  I called you everyday for a month and not one call.”

He looked at me, his eyes kind and smiling, then he enveloped me in a hug – he’s always been like a dad to me – and the tears started to fall.

“I know.  It’s just been hard.”

He hugged me tighter and said…”I know, it. We’ll talk more inside.”

I was in the exam room.  All too familiar.  My stomach in knots.  Persistent post traumatic stress disorder rearing its ugly head at this visit.

Dr. M walked in.  Sat down and started to talk.  He told me about a patient he was extremely close with – delivered both of her babies – and was now pregnant again.  She changed doctors to someone else.  He told me the last baby he delivered for her had Trisomy 18 – a chromosomal disorder that is not compatible with life. She could not walk through his doors again.  There were too many bad memories in his office for her.

He told me this, looked me in the eye and said, “What I’m getting at is…I know that it took a lot of courage to walk through those doors today to see me.  I know that when you are sitting in this room you don’t have positive thoughts since the outcome wasn’t what we were hoping for.  I will understand completely if you need and want to change doctors.”

I looked at him, adjusted the hospital gown that was covering up my lady bits, and said, “Thank you for that.”

I pulled out my phone, found the latest video I took of my boy and said to him, “This isn’t the outcome we thought.  But, look at him.  He’s such a blessing.  You gave me Isabelle.  You directed me to the best place for Evan.  There are a lot of bad memories, here, yes….but so much good too.”

We chatted more about how I was doing.  He asked question after question about Evan and about his future surgeries.  I showed him picture after picture of him. I’m sure I was radiating pride for how far my son has come.

I looked at him again, this time more tears, and said, “I can’t believe not even a year ago I asked you to give me information to terminate this pregnancy.  I can’t believe that I uttered those words to you.  But, you said words to me that I’ll never forget.  You said, ‘There is a lot of unknown and it’s scary.  But, so many times….these unknowns turn into such blessings.’ And you were right.  I wouldn’t change Evan – he has taught me so much about faith, about love, about hope.”

He stepped out to pick up a phone call and came back in.  His eyes were bright and said, “What a coincidence.  A mom just stopped by as I was taking a call to show me her baby girl I delivered 3 months ago.  She was born with an undetected heart defect.  The baby was lifeless at 3 days old and rushed to the ER.”

“Is she still here?  I’d like to say hi if she’d like to met me.”

He looked at me and said, “I kind of thought you would.  So…she’s waiting for you.”

We finished my appointment and Dr. M walked me out to the parking lot and made introductions.

I met mom to Daja.  A beautiful, baby girl with jet black curly hair donning a pink dress and pink bow.

Dr. M excused himself and left me and the other Heart Mom on the side walk.

I gave her a smile and said, “I’m so glad to meet you.”

I told her about my boy.  About his care at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas – a little back story to my heart warrior.

She told me about her daughter.  Our children share some similar defects but her daughter has another rare heart condition – Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS).  Mom to Daja told me that she has undergone one heart surgery and will be having her next heart surgery in the next month.  Two open heart surgeries at just 4 months old…

She told me that Daja was on life support for 3 days.  She told me the doctors weren’t sure if she would make it.  She said she always believed that her daughter would pull through…and she did.

I told her about the amazing support group called “Sisters by Heart.”  A group that connects women from all over the nation with children of babies with HLHS.  I told her about my Facebook family of Heart Moms.

She stopped me mid sentence and asked, “How old is your son?”

“He’ll be 7 months old in about 2 weeks.  He’ll have his open heart surgery in a couple of months.”

She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “I want to be there.  I hope to Daja will get to 7 months.”

I looked at her, wrapped my arms around this complete stranger, and said, “Don’t give up hope.  Don’t lose your faith.  I know how hard this journey is.  I know how tired you are.  I know how overwhelming all of this is.  I know how scary the unknown is.  But you need to fight for her – every step of the way.  You fight.  And you pray.  There is always hope.”

She held onto me.  She hugged me tighter. I could feel her body shaking in sobs.  I could sense the exhaustion, the worry, the anxiety.

As I embraced this stranger in the 102 degree heat of the Texas sun and I spoke words to her I desperately needed to hear myself….I realized that I had found a strength in me I didn’t know I had.

I was the hope for someone else today.  I may have been the answered prayer to her plea, “God….can I do this?”

I had to push aside my doubts, my fear, stop wallowing in my self pity to be the light for someone else.  I finally stepped outside my self absorbed world of all things Evan and all things me to see the ache, the hurt of another warrior and her mother.  I stopped – even for just a moment – and saw God answer a prayer for me.

I have been praying for my soul to be rejuvenated.  I have been asking God to show me some hope.  My days lately have been beginning and ending with me in puddles of tears – over anxious, worried, hopeless.

I’ve been waiting for God to show me something.  Help me to see that these prayers, all my pleading – are being heard – are being answered.

And today, when I finally stopped and just did the only thing God asks from me…to be the light for others…is when I truly felt the hope in my heart.

As I prayed over this stranger and her daughter Daja – now linked to my heart forever – as I professed healing for this little girl – as I comforted the lost and tired soul of another – as I stopped focusing on on my son – and suddenly became more like the Son  – is when God opened my heart to His promises for me.

The words of hope and faith I whispered to her…uttered to my heart as well.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Emma's Nana Jana says:

    Czarina, this is beautifully written and so moving!

    You do not know me, but I believe that you do know my DIL, Sarah, and my precious granddaughter, Emma Janae Stewart.

    What you have written needs to be published and shared…as a 34-year teacher of English, now retired, I am a good judge of excellent writing, and this is wonderful and ever so true.

    You sound like us: as a family, we are much better at nurturing others than we are at admitting a need for/ accepting other people’s help. But with Emma’s condition and our daughter Stacey’s cancer, we are finding ourselves often on the receiving end of other people’s acts of kindness. This is almost embarrassing to me; I’d rather be the one nurturing than to be nurtured! But…

    One day, amidst all the pain/worry/heartache, I said to myself: “Listen, Jana, you have given to others whenever you could, but it takes a receiver in order to give. Now you are on the receiving end and must give others a chance to reach out to you.”

    That moment helped me to realize we all have opportunities to “play both roles,” giver and receiver. It’s humbling, isn’t it? But now you, too, have been both receiver and giver.

    Think of it like this: Sometimes we have the chance to be “somebody else’s angel” and spread hope, faith, and love! At other times, somebody else needs the opportunity to do the same for us.

    Giving/receiving: both are blessings. And our ill children/grandchildren have given us the opportunity to both give and receive…and have strengthened us in ways we never dreamed possible!

    Tomorrow, tears may come again … but today, Czarina, for this moment, there is rejoicing and joy!
    God bless you on this amazing journey with your little one and with this huge “heart family” we all have been “born into.”
    Love and hope from Emma Janae’s Nana Jana <3

    • I love your sweet Emma – and I will forever be grateful to Sarah for opening up her heart to me when I was pregnant with my heart warrior. It’s hard to think outside yourself when you’re in the thick of things – but there is so much need out there – so many need prayer – and at times – I feel like Evan and my family are the true lucky ones – we surround our sweet boy with love and cover him in prayer daily. So many don’t have that….and those are the people I hope to encounter in this journey – the lost and lonely without hope.

      Thank you for your kind words!

  2. Hi C,
    I haven’t posted in a while but have been reading faithfully. My son, approaching 2, has just been diagnosed with several severe developmental delays and a very uncertain future prognosis. While I know this is nothing like what Evan and your family faces, it has been heartbreaking and terrifying and I want you to know just how much your words have encouraged me. Realizing that God’s plans for our son may be very different than what we’d always hoped and imagined is tough, and that is the understatement of the century, but your unwavering faith in His goodness is such an example. Thank you. Our prayers remain with your Evan and your family.