There are days that you will never, ever forget. Today was one of those days. Today will forever be a before and an after for you. You sat in a doctor’s office and heard the words ‘congenital heart defect’ and your unborn child in the same sentence. You fought tears as you tried to calmly put together questions you thought you should ask in a situation like this….not that you have ever prepared for it. Your first question (you still can’t remember if it was you or your husband) was ‘will my child be able to play sports?’ Looking back, that’s a little embarrassing and feels shallow. But it’s not, you weren’t necessarily worried about whether or not your child would play college football one day, but you were worried about him living a ‘normal’ life. And normal in terms of your childhood involved sports and no limitations and very few doctor appointments, so don’t feel bad about that. God bless the doctor for keeping it all in perspective and answering with, ‘Why don’t you worry about normal baby milestones right now…like crawling and sitting up and walking…instead of thinking that far down the road?’ Because, truthfully, he didn’t know and couldn’t answer that question either way for sure. The ‘normal’ you envisioned for your child won’t look the same, but it will be your new normal and it will still be beautiful.
You’ll leave this appointment, hug your sister-in-law in the parking lot, make phone calls to family members and a few friends, and tearfully explain what you think is wrong with your baby’s heart. You’re going to walk around in a fog for the better part of the next 20 weeks, sometimes sharing this news with people you know and sometimes not, because, honestly, explaining it over and over again is exhausting and the unknowns that come with it even more tiring. You’re going to spend hours on the internet (even though the doctor tells you not to) researching and searching for families going through what you’re going to be once your child is born. You’re going to make decisions that you don’t feel capable of making, pray for things you never thought would happen to you, and worry about what your child’s future will look like.
It will be hard….so, so, so hard sometimes, but you know what? You’re going to get through it. You’re going to put one foot in front of the other and do the next thing that God is calling you to do. And when he arrives, you won’t be ‘ready’ but he’ll arrive nonetheless, and you will have people beside you every step of the way. While there will be times where you don’t feel strong enough and unequipped as a mama to face the next thing, you will never feel alone.
So I’m here to tell you there is hope. Don’t ever, ever, ever lose that hope.
Through your son, your heart will grow for those walking similar paths and you will help create a place for families to get tangible support to give them that hope too. Through your son, you will meet amazing people who walk beside you. Through your son, you will get to witness first-hand how incredibly strong your boy is and how privileged you are to be his mama. Through your son, you will learn more about those possible, but unlikely, complications that can happen because of congenital heart disease. Through your son, you will meet families whose heart warrior earns their angel wings. Watching those families survive that and carry on their precious child’s memory despite their unimaginable loss will inspire you, give you hope, and teach you to make every day count. Through your son, your support network of family and friends and friends of friends and strangers will overwhelm you with kindness and love that people say doesn’t exist anymore. Through your son, your faith in God who holds your precious boy in the palm of His hands will grow in ways it wouldn’t have without hearing the words ‘congenital heart defect.’
So, trust your instincts, love your family, pray, and keep doing the next thing, mama. You’ve got this.
Post Written by Emily Graber — Emily works part-time, is co-founder of Help-A-Heart and manages the chaos of the #graber7 family on a daily basis. She lives in Prairie City with her husband, Darin, and 5 beautiful kiddos–heart hero Gabe (13) & heart healthy Garrett (14), Riley (11), Selah (6) & Blakely (3). Emily wouldn’t have chosen the CHD diagnosis for her son, but she is blessed to be here because of it.