Three years ago today, Jon & I had to do the hardest thing that any parent ever has to do for their child. It was around 7AM... she was the first case of the day, so we were up quite early to be at the hospital. She had already been in the hospital for the three weeks leading up to this day due to pneumonia/CHF.
I had to keep my emotions in check... otherwise I wouldn't have been able to see her through the tears. That, & I had to keep Jon from punching one of the phlebotomists - another story;0) We were able to spend about a half an hour with her before, & were even able to pray over her before we took "the walk"...
When they said "its time" my heart sank even further than it was already sitting. I didn't want to let her out of my arms. I thought "maybe if I just hold her a little longer..." thinking that I would finally wake up from the nightmare that I had been living for the previous 2 months. We walked out of the PCTU (where they had admitted her from Toledo a couple of days before) and out to the elevator. I think that was both the shortest & longest elevator ride of my life! When the doors opened up on the 2nd floor, I think MY heart skipped a beat knowing that it was time. A nurse & the anesthesiologist were both there & gave me that "look". Even though every fiber of my being wanted nothing but to run out the door & take her home, I knew I had to hand her off to them.
She was somewhat groggy as they had given her versed to calm her before. I gave her one last squeeze & handed her to the nurse. Of course, they gave me that look of understanding & reassurance that she would be well cared for. Then the next leg of the long walk to the waiting room. Thankfully we had plenty of family there with us which helped pass the time until the first update. By now it was about 7:30. The next 3 hours were the longest of my life. The physician's assistant came in to give us the first update. I was both relieved & scared to death at the same time. What were they going to say? Was she doing okay or was there a complication? "They've gotten all her lines started & are preparing to put her on bypass now. We'll be back with another update in about an hour."
Of course it was longer than an hour, but they did come back with the update that things were going well. In the end, Dr. Bove told us that he wasn't comfortable with completing her full repair as he had originally hoped, so he had unifocalized her collateral arteries & placed a modified BT shunt. Then he told us that her next surgery would be in about 6 months. Not exactly what I had wanted to hear... another surgery... but she had come through & was stable. Thank God!
Then the next traumatic event of her/our journey down this road... seeing her afterward. One of her nurses from Toledo had tried to prepare us for what she would look like after the surgery. "She's going to look like someone took a baseball bat to her." The night before, her nurse had taken us around to see some of the other little one's on the unit that had already had surgery as a way to prepare us. Thankfully she didn't look that bad. Aside from the long incision down her little chest, the ET tube & ventilator breathing for her, all of the IV pumps, lines, etc., she looked "good." Another hurdle jumped. If we'd only known how many hoops she would have to go through over the next three months...
Vaeh remained on the ventilator for a total of 14 days, with a 3 day break in the middle. She had come off of it initially, but had to be re-intubated because her lungs were still weak from the bout of pneumonia before the surgery. She spent a total of 5 weeks at the University of Michigan/ C.S.Mott Children's Hospital before she was transferred back to The Toledo Hospital for another 6 weeks before she would be able to come home. She had many life threatening complications after that first open heart & was able to come home. It was one of the hardest times in my life, & despite having to see my daughter endure so much in her young life, I wouldn't change any of it. Because without all the trials over the past 3 1/2 years, we wouldn't have this little beauty with us!
Thank you all for supporting us through this journey. Its great to have such a wonderul group of people on your side! Happy 3rd heart anniversary, Vaeh!