May 2012. What was supposed to be one of the happiest times in my life quickly became one of the most heartbreaking. Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return. One in every 10,000 babies born in the U.S. are born with this heart defect each year. In May of 2012, my daughter Brynn was one of them. Devastation doesn’t even begin to explain the emotions a parent feels hearing your preterm baby is going to have to undergo open heart surgery within the first few months of her life.
My husband and I struggled to conceive. We did IVF treatment after IVF treatment and finally received news we were pregnant with twins after a devastating miscarriage. We prayed for healthy babies so when we found out Brynn was sick we were heartbroken. I was mad. I didn’t understand after just having lost a pregnancy why we had a sick child. I did the only thing I knew how to do. Handle it. I kept it together. I took care of my son and my husband. And cried in my car alone on the way to the hospital to see my sick daughter, praying God would save her because I couldn’t bear anymore heartache.
Her first month of life was difficult as she spent time in the NICU and we went back and forth to the hospital as we tried to juggle being new parents, work schedules and another child at home. Once she came home we struggled to give her high calorie formula to get her weight up for her surgery. She had reflux. She was in pain. We waited, anticipating her surgery date when things would hopefully improve for her, for us all. Brynn was granted her open heart to repair her TAPVR when she was one month old. I will never forget sitting in her hospital room listening to the woman from the surgery department explain her surgery to me. Telling me they will have to STOP her teeny tiny heart to operate on it. I’m a pediatric nurse. I know these things. But when you’re a mother you just can’t comprehend it. Thankfully Brynn’s surgery went smoothly and successfully.
Now those days are just a memory. A memory we talk about with her when she notices the scar on her chest or when we visit the cardiologist for her checkup. She’s well aware (aware as any 6 year old can be) that we had to have her heart fixed when she was a baby and that an amazing surgeon named Dr. Ilbawi saved her life, and we are all forever grateful.
Today, Brynn is my smart (loves reading and math), active (kills it on the soccer field), loving (always looking out for her twin brother Gray) energetic, normal 6 year old. And you would never know what she went through as a baby until she tells you she was born with a broken heart.
So this year I’m running the Chicago Marathon for the American Heart Association. To honor my daughter Brynn, her life, her HEART. Please consider donating to help me on my journey. No donation is too small and if you’re unable to give a monetary donation at this time please consider sharing my page! Thank you!