Happy Hour

No matter the time zone – it’s 5 o’clock somewhere.

When I was working and in college, I would get so excited to hit Happy Hour.

I got to unwind from the “grind” – you know the 40 hour work week – which – lets face it – hardly really hit 40 hours when you take into consideration the extended lunch breaks, mini breaks throughout the day, water cooler talk…

But, yet, I still found so much excitement and went giddy at the thought of Happy Hour.

Things have changed…a bit.

Not only now is my job 24/7, I’m lucky if I get a lunch (or any meal) break, rush bathroom breaks, and often have to ask  myself at the end of the day “Did I drink water today?” – my job is utterly stressful.

Gone are the days of deadlines, spreadsheets..

Now my job is medication lists, logging oxygen saturations, monitoring weight gain, taking vitals, feeling pulses, listening for heart murmurs.

I no longer juggle deadlines…I juggle doctors appointments.

The exhaustion of being a Heart Mama is beyond comprehension.

Our lives are now about getting our child to the next day.  We just want them to live.  We do all we can to get our babies to not just to thrive – but to survive.  Yes – survive.

We battle with the clock all the time.  We don’t want to rush their baby-hood.  Let’s face it – time flies – regardless if it’s fun or not.  So, we don’t want them to grow up too fast and we want to cherish their baby faces, baby chub, sweet sounds but we are looking forward with nervous anticipation to their surgeries.  The surgeries – that if successful – will extend their life and perhaps give us the normal that we long for.

This job is tiring.  And then we live with the guilt that we’re tired.  We live with guilt – as we look at our babies in the hospital bed – hooked up to monitors, plugged into feeding pumps, sweating and breathing fast because they are in heart failure, being pumped full of meds to counteract the “heart failure” so we can get to their next surgery….but we live with the guilt that we are  tired, are longing and needing a break, dreaming of sleep, wishing for home.

Because as a Heart Mama, we are still human but desperately want to be superhuman.  We want to be able to function without sleep, live without food and water (because even meals force us to be away from our babies who are so sick), we want to foresee every new sign or symptom so we can swoop in and fix it, we want to save our children from the traumas of surgeries that await their little bodies.

But, alas, we’re just human.

So, after 32 days of our 2nd hospital stay with Evan, I gave in.

I gave into my exhaustion.  I realized when I was so tired, so drained, and so emotionally depleted and just wanted to cry – but couldn’t cry – because I didn’t have the energy to, that I needed to step away.

I needed to take a few hours for me.  Selfish – yet – necessary.

Craig has been asking me for weeks to take a break. But, the guilt and the fear were so overwhelming. I mean – how could I do that – when Evan was laying in a hospital bed fighting for his life.

To me – taking a break meant I was weak.  That I couldn’t handle it.  And I needed to handle it – for Evan.  Some part of me feels like I should suffer, too.  Because it isn’t fair that my boy is suffering so much.

But yesterday, I did it.  I let myself take a break – for 16 hours – I stepped away.

I got a pedicure…and got my face waxed (yes face…apparently – the lady said I needed it…).

I had a glass of wine.

I ate a meal without rushing.

I took a shower that lasted more than 2 minutes.

I told stories and played with Isabelle without looking at the clock to rush back to the hospital.

I slept in my bed, with my pillows, under my soft sheets…next to my husband.

Bliss.

And before I left for my afternoon off, I asked my fellow Heart Mamas to join me for Happy Hour.  To join me at 5 o’clock – where ever they were – to stop and breathe and take a break.  To allow themselves a moment of “me time.”  To allow themselves to indulge in frosty drink, a glass of wine, a really good meal, a moment of solitude, or just a minute to just take a breath.  I asked them to give their minds a break from the worry, the stress, the guilt, the fear.

I saw that many did “join” me.  Some indulged in drink.  Some ate a great meal.  Some allowed their mind to wander away from the Heartland.

Our lives are forever changed with our Heart babies.  Our lives are better and worse for it. Worse because of the heartache, the fear, and the stress that comes with being a heart mama.   Better because we have been blessed with the joy of taking care of a life that teaches us about living – every.single.day.

So, I took a break.  A part of me feels guilt, still.  But, that’s something I’ll always battle.

I rushed out of my house this morning to go back to the hospital.

I walked in Evan’s room and he was awake.

The monitors were beeping.  The wires still attached.  The feeding pump still going.

I looked at my boy and he welcomed me with his big, wide, all cleft, adorable smile.

We played, sang songs, and I told him about my day with Iz and my adventure at the salon.  He cooed and smiled and listened intently.  After about an hour…he was ready again for a nap.

My rested mind and body enjoyed every second of my time with him from my half a day of rest.  What a great hour be welcomed back to after being gone.

What a  Happy Hour.