Today was just another day. Expectantly looking for big and small miracles, but reality was a rerun of fixing breakfast, cutting food into many tiny pieces, picking up after the kids, comforting after head bonks and loud cries, running searching for them and terrified of what they might be doing when it was too quiet.
Then they went down for their naps and finally, there was a brief respite.
Until Vallyn started crying and screaming in her sleep.
I rushed to her room and she looked frightened and disoriented. So I picked her up out of bed and she clung to me like a koala as I tried to settle her back down. Not wanting to put her down, I sat in the rocking chair in her room and she almost instantly fell back to sleep on my chest. I knew if I put her in bed she would wake up and I knew she was so tired, so I sat there. And tried to doze myself. But that wasn’t working.
So I looked around her room, as I always do.
And my gaze settled on the tree my brother painted for her, as it always does.
And I was drawn to the two hearts he painted on the trunk, as I always am.
And I just sat there, looking at those two hearts.
Remembering how four years ago, that same little heart was beating inside my belly.
We were still trying to absorb the news that she had Down syndrome when we went for our first fetal echocardiogram.
The doctor looked at the images and came in and said all kinds of scary things that could be happening, but it boiled down to her having an enlarged aorta.
What did this mean???
It meant something was wrong with my sweet baby’s heart.
It could mean nothing.
It could mean she would have to go straight to surgery after being born.
Or it could mean she wouldn’t live very long.
We just didn’t know.
So I cried, and prayed, and cried, and prayed some more. And cried some more.
And every day, I imagined her aorta getting smaller, and her heart getting bigger, until they matched up and were the right size for each other.
And we got a miracle, because when she was born her aorta was no longer enlarged.
We have still had scary and stressful times related to her heart over the years.
She ended up having heart surgery at five weeks old because one of her fetal blood vessels did not close, but thank God she sailed through that and felt so much better afterwards.
And she did have a sizeable hole in her heart, but just as before I prayed and imagined it closing.
And we were granted another miracle and the hole did eventually close on it's own.
I don’t know how or why we were so fortunate, but I’m grateful every day.
For her first birthday, my brother did a painting for her that says “Shine on, little strong heart”.And I cried tears of joy when we saw this, because she does.
She shines on.
No matter what happens.
She is so brave.
She puts up with so much crap every day.
Being tired. Having low tone. Wearing orthotics. And glasses.
And sleeping with an oxygen tube taped to her face every nap and every night.
Yet she shines,
oh how she shines!!!
Bringing us such joy, every day – even when she’s being a total stinker.
So yes – today was an ordinary, routine, ho-hum day.
Except it wasn’t.
Because I got to snuggle for a whole 45 minutes feeling my sweet angel’s heart beat with mine.
Because I got to remember how grateful I was to finally hold her in my arms for the first time after she was born, and feel her heart beat next to mine on the outside.
(That's still one of my all-time favorite pictures)
And as we sat there together and I stared at the tree and I stared at her and tears ran down my face,
I slowly leaned down to kiss her cheek (because I simply couldn’t help myself!)
And the spell was broken.
Quick as a flash - her eyes flew open, she ripped off her oxygen cannula, smiled at me, wiped her nose on my shirt, gave me a kiss on the cheek, and jumped down from my lap to go wreak havoc upon her stuffed animals.
And I smiled at my darling little miracle, and went off to fold some more laundry.