Hello everyone I'm Carmel from Our Fifth House,
and I am so honored to be here today sharing my heart with all of you. Thank you to Tonya for putting this series together and for allowing me to take part!
Realizing God's love for me is ongoing in my life. I'm not sure that I will ever be able to fully grasp just how much He loves me. I know His love is way beyond my understanding. I have never experienced the power of God's love in my life more than when my daughter had her heart procedure.
My daughter, Josie, was born in 2006. She was born with a heart defect called patent ductus arteriosis (PDA). What this means is that a blood vessel that should have closed at birth or soon after remained open causing abnormal blood circulation between her heart and lungs. When you take your newborn in for a 10 day old check-up the last thing you want to hear from the pediatrician is, "I hear a heart murmur, and I'm referring you to a pediatric cardiologist." Especially when you are getting ready to move out of state in a few weeks. I remember her first round of tests at the cardiologist's office like it was yesterday. The original plan was to "watch" her PDA and "hope" that it would heal itself. Basically wait and see what happens. If you know me "wait and see" is not an easy thing for me to do.
We moved from Virginia to Pittsburgh when she was 6 weeks old. Two days after we moved, my grandfather passed away unexpectedly. He never got to see her, but she did fly out with me to California for his funeral. Moving, losing my grandfather, trying to keep up with my 2 year old boy, and dealing with the stress of taking care of a baby with a heart defect was starting to take a tole. I did a lot of "why me" thinking during that time.
We found a cardiologist in Pittsburgh right away and she also recommended the "wait and see" approach. Josie was not gaining weight very well, but she didn't seem to be having any trouble breathing. A PDA very basically makes the heart work harder so breathing and gaining weight can be a problem. In her case gaining weight was a problem, but she had no breathing issues. Still, as a parent, knowing your child has a heart defect even if the symptoms aren't "alarming" to the doctors is difficult to handle. She didn't act like a normal, healthy baby. She had to be held by me almost all. day. long. If I put her down she'd scream. Not a normal baby scream. It's hard to describe, but I know she was trying to tell me how uncomfortable she was. No one else could comfort her but me. I was tired and stressed, but I was afraid to leave her alone.
She had tests run every 3 months until her 9 month check-up when the tests revealed that the left side of heart was enlarging. Her PDA was not closing on its own. The situation was getting worse not better. The doctor recommended that we plug the hole with a minimally invasive procedure. She recommended that my daughter have a cardiac catheterization. The surgeon would use a thin, hollow tube to pass a metal coil through the catheter to close the PDA. Not closing it meant the risk of heart failure. We scheduled her procedure right away, but to a parent there is nothing "minimally invasive" about plugging a hole in your child's heart!
The day of her procedure is one I will never forget. I remember having her in my arms when the surgeon came in to take her. I didn't think I could let her go. Tears were running down my face. My husband had his hand on my back, and he was fighting back tears as well. Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I. had. peace. I had no fear. For the first time since her 10 day old check-up I wasn't worried. I literally felt like a weight had been lifted. I gave her to the surgeon and I could still breath (still crying but breathing too!). I have chills writing and remembering this. When you think you won't be able to get through something and He guides you right through; it is just so amazing! The surgeon took her in to the operating room. My husband and I went to the waiting room and then it felt like an eternity had passed before a nurse came out to let us know anything.
I know the peace I felt that day came from God. The night before her procedure, as I rocked my daughter to sleep, I prayed and asked Him to give me strength. I didn't just pray that the procedure would go well. That is what we always pray for don't we? We always pray that God will make everything ok.
My prayers since finding out about her PDA were always that He would heal her heart without her having to have any surgery at all. I wanted Him to answer my prayers and put my plan into action. That night I remembered a verse I learned as a kid.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
That night I prayed that God would prepare me for whatever His plan was. I finally believed and claimed this verse. Instead of just reciting this verse from memory I believed the message behind the words. He loves me and He has a plan that is so much better than my own.
The cardiac catheterization was a success! It was amazing what a change we saw in her after that day. She started gaining weight! She just looked comfortable. She had to have yearly check-ups until she turned three. At her three year old check-up the cardiologist cleared her and we haven't had to go back to the cardiologist since then! Woo to the hoo!
Through this experience I learned to trust God. He knows me better than I know myself. He got me and the rest of my family through this experience. We're forever grateful to have each other because having been through this experience we know what a blessing a healthy life really is!
My daughter is 5 now and she definitely has her "moments". My patience is tried but I'm still smiling. :)
Both of my children are a gift from God and I'm so very honored He chose me to be their mother!