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Fierce Heart Warrior

Heart Surgery Warrior

“I am going to send you to Cardiology, it’s probably nothing, but I need you to go now.” My husband Ryan and I just arrived at our two week pediatric appointment for our daughter, Ryleigh. I rolled my eyes and said “it’s probably nothing.”

I felt extremely inconvenienced. You see, my eye roll came from a deeper place than just our pediatrician sending us to cardiology. At five weeks pregnant I was told I wouldn’t have Ryleigh and I should prepare for a miscarriage. Instead, I should have prepared for 36 weeks of misery. I threw up everyday for 36 weeks resulting in me turning to a morning sickness drug. Ryleigh decided to make her appearance a month early. The delivery was smooth until I was rushed to the OR for my placenta to be removed while Ryan was left with our 4 pound girl to feed. I never did have that skin to skin bonding experience that I was so desperately seeking after a rough pregnancy.

Little did I know that those words my pediatrician spoke would haunt me to this day. At Pediatric Cardio we were greeted at the entrance by a sonogram technician who rushed us into the echo room. She politely excused herself while two cardiologists walked in. After 45 minutes of complete silence, our worst fears were confirmed. Ryleigh was diagnosed with two major congenital heart defects and a laundry list of other heart issues. 

The next thing I remember is the doctor taking my baby, and her being hooked up to what seems like hundreds of IVs, beeping machines, and a tube in her throat and head. Our cardiologist explained that we didn’t have much more time with Ryleigh. That without our doctor making this miraculous discovery, the outcome would have been much worse.

After 24 hours we were transported to a hospital to meet a surgeon who specializes in open heart surgery on babies. After a 7 hour open heart surgery my four pound baby survived. In fact, she thrived. We were told that this could take several surgeries. 2.5 years later, my fierce heart warrior is still thriving. 

What I have learned from this experience and essentially why I wear my heart ring so proudly, is how thankful I am. I love speaking with other mothers who endured a similar trauma, or who have PPD similarly to mine and feel like they have no one to turn to. I love being the mom that other moms can lean on when they feel they’re alone. 

Learning to be grateful has helped me in my day to day with my heart hero, as well as with my one year old. 

I am grateful to be a mom of two beautiful girls, my reasons why I am the strong mother I am today.

I am grateful for my supportive husband, family, friends, without whom I would not be so strong. 

I am grateful for my own mother who taught me to see beyond the tubes and wires, and to focus strictly on Ryleigh. 

I am grateful for our pediatrician, a true angel on Earth who saved my daughter’s life. 

But mostly I am grateful for organizations such as Tiny Tags who value mothers and puts them at the forefront of what they do regularly. My imperfect heart ring is the perfect representation of all it took to get Ryleigh here. Just because you dream of having a perfect life with your perfect family, doesn’t mean it’s not perfect with a few jagged edges and bumps along the way. Being perfect is just what YOU feel perfect is. It’s looking at your crazy journey and realizing that you can make something beautiful out of something that seems ugly. My perfectly imperfect heart ring, and the mama necklace I plan on purchasing from Tiny Tags, are beautiful symbols of motherhood. The different journeys we are all on and how truly beautiful each journey is. 


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