I want you to know that everything will be alright! You will have an amazing heart warrior that will touch the lives of so many people and it will change you forever! I know you thought being a stay at home mom was super easy with one child, but life is going to get a little harder. Not only will you have two children, you will have one that needs a lot of attention. Some parents find out prenatally that there might be something going on with their baby and they can prepare, research, and find support. You will be surprised, shocked and terrified….God’s got this and so do you and Derek! Wendy, you will meet some of the most amazing parents that have done everything for their children! Get ready for the rollercoaster ride because you never knew how many families would be affected by congenital heart defects in IOWA alone and some will loose their courageous battle. There will be sadness, anger, frustration, hope, and joy too! It will be a lot to process.
On November 18, 2005, you will go into labor! You won’t know it for sure because you had to be induced with your firstborn since he was overdue by a week. Your husband won’t believe you that you are actually in labor and you will pack everything while he takes a shower. After all, you thought you would have more time yet since the baby is two weeks early. Everything went so well with the pregnancy and you had more ultrasounds this time because your first born was ten pounds, so they wanted to make sure your baby didn’t get any bigger! You were so excited to find out what sex you were going to have and you actually went into labor by yourself. After getting admitted, you are all hooked up to the stress monitor and they are checking to make sure you are, in fact, in labor. They are waiting to see if you dilate on your own and it is taking forever. They decide to start you on pitocin, a drug to help you start dilating. You will be a little frustrated because you remember your first labor and when you are induced it intensifies labor. All of the sudden, nurses start rushing in and looking at the monitors. You see your baby’s heart rate is dropping and there is concern. After a little while, things calm down and everything is ok again.
Your beautiful daughter is born at 4:07 p.m and weighs 7 lbs. 14 oz. and is and 20 inches long. The doctors and nurses congratulate you on your healthy baby girl and everyone says you have the perfect family! You do, don’t forget that! Just because you will find out life is not the way you planned it, you do have the perfect family! God chose you to be the mother of these two children and you will have another. You are so excited to be a family of four. The next two months will be long. You will feel like something is not right. Your daughter will be sick all the time and you will be making a lot of visits to the doctor. Your daughter cries a lot more, breathes faster, and is sick more than your firstborn. You will start to feel like the doctors think you are crazy! There is just something that your mother instinct tells you and you just can’t put a finger on it. The doctors try acid reflux medicine, tell you different ways to sooth your baby, and then suggest that maybe after 2 months of this she is just colicky.
At your two month check-up you have a nurse practitioner do the exam. You kind of wish it was the doctor because you want to figure out why things have been so different with this baby than your first. At the end of the appointment, she decides to ask the doctor to come in. They are listening to her heart. You have no idea what is going on and can’t really remember what they say besides. “we hear a murmur, it’s probably nothing, but since Makenzie has been sick so much we want to get it checked out by a cardiologist. It’s most likely a hole in her heart that will eventually close.” After the appointment, you are a little concerned, but not too much because you have heard of children having holes in their heart when you were younger and it didn’t seem like that big of a deal.
The day comes for the cardiologist appointment and you are ready. They do an EKG, chest x-ray and then you wait. The nurse comes in to get you for an ultrasound. The ultrasound tech looks everything over…and over….and over….by this time the tech has to go home as it’s the end of the day, so the cardiologist takes over. No big deal. He tells you to head to the room and he will be there in a minute. The next thing you know, the cardiologist comes in and says, “I am so sorry but Makenzie has a congenital heart defect called Transitional Atrial Ventricular Septal Defect. She will need open heart surgery within a year.” That’s about all you hear. The doctor shows you a drawing of a normal heart and your daughter’s heart and then proceeds to tell you that her breathing is not a result of congestive heart failure (which would mean she would need surgery right away) but he thinks it could have something to do with her lungs and wants you to see a pulmonologist.
A couple days later you are sent to the pulmonologist and Makenzie will be diagnosed with asthma and RSV. You and Derek are devastated. How could your healthy baby have a heart defect and asthma. The diagnosis that scares you the most will be the heart defect but the asthma diagnosis is what you will struggle with the most. Makenzie will be on steroids for 2 weeks at a time every month from Fall to Spring for 7 years. You will experience sleepless nights as you need to give her breathing treatments every four hours through the day and night. You will be exhausted and try everything to calm your child on steroids.
At 18 months of age you will be told, “It is time!” Time to hand over your strong little baby girl to the heart surgeon so he can repair your daughters heart. It will be one of the hardest and longest days of your life. You will worry about them stopping your baby’s heart, complications, will she be able to be extubated right away because of her asthma, how long will she be hospitalized, and so much more. While you are waiting to see her again you will have a dear friend that you met through this heart journey bring you and your family a meal! You will not know then what huge blessings will come from that. The surgery will go well and you will see her fight like crazy to get out of there really quick. She will start pulling tubes out and be riding a tricycle in three days.
After Makenzie recovers from surgery you will want to give back to that friend that so lovingly brought you a meal on surgery day. You will start to help out with her non profit fundraisers and decide to ask about starting a support group. In 2010, you will start a group of about 5 heart families that you know, in hopes that they can support each other and those who will have a child with a CHD. You will not know what God’s plans are, it might seem a little scary, and you won’t see the benefits for a while, but hang in there! By 2017, you will have over 25 families attending your support group meetings, have support & help, and have reached over 250 families!
This will be one of your favorite passages and you will be STRONGER, COMPASSIONATE, and BLESSED!
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 1:1-5
Post written by Wendy Meyer- Wendy enjoys spending time with her husband (Derek), and three children (Nolan, Makenzie, and Katelyn)! She is working part time, manages her crazy household, and has been the Help-A-Heart Support Group Leader since it’s inception in 2010.