This past Saturday was the 6th anniversary of Samantha's open heart surgery. 6. Wow. And it's funny, because she was so young and because it was so long ago and because there are no residual after effects that require monitoring or attention, it's something that barely crosses my mind anymore. Traumatic at the time, sweet relief on the other side. New doctors ask for health history, and repaired complete AV canal defect always ends up an afterthought on my part. I honestly, truly forget that it was a very real, very serious medical condition and surgical procedure.
There are some things you never, ever forget, though. One was the visit by a cardiologist to my bedside the day after Samantha's birth, coming to tell us the news that eclipsed all else. Another was being summoned to a small meeting room by Samantha's cardiac surgeon at CHOP, to tell us the surgery was a complete success. All I could do was look at his hands, entranced by the notion that those very same hands, only minutes before, had gently touched my baby's exposed heart, sewn together the hole between the valves to moderate the flows of blood and oxygen, changed the course of her life and given her a future full of possibility.
And it was not without its complication. While the surgery was a complete success, Samantha off the vent before we even saw her in recovery, her release from the hospital within 5 days, that release came with a price and a new fear. We left the hospital with oxygen, something we never saw coming. We had a few weeks (one? two? felt like years) with the noisy whirrrrr of the large electric generator that was hauled into our apartment, playing jump rope with a tangled mass of tubes and cords as we nimbly moved from room to room, of the smaller tanks taken to doctors' appointments, to the store, a wary eye kept on the gauge to judge just how much time we could be away from home before a new tank was needed. It really seemed like forever, and each follow-up appointment with her beloved cardiologist saw us holding our breaths, anxiously waiting for the news that we were free to remove the canula, the tape holding it to Sammi's delicate cheeks, to end the necessity of the diuretic she was on to remove excess fluid from around her heart. The longer each of these items was necessary, the greater the risk for additional health problems, pulmonary hypertension, long-term complications...
And then, before we knew it, an exhale like no other, a new perspective, one of contradiction, one we both wish for all other parents to have, yet would never, ever wish on another parent. Perspective that changed us, made us realize just how precious life is.
Samantha has changed us in so many amazing ways, from Day 1. Happy (belated) Heart Day, beautiful Princess!!!