Today I would like for you to meet my friend Crystal. Crystal is wife to Josh and mommy to CHD warrior Jack (4) and baby brother, Harrison. She and her family reside in Sweet Home Alabama where she is a full-time high school teacher, varsity cheer coach, and grad school student. You can read Crystal’s blog at www.facinggoliath.blogspot.com.
I’d heard the quote before but I never knew exactly what it meant until I watched them wheel my son’s hospital bed down the hallway and around the corner as they went to load him onto an ambulance to take him to a different hospital.
It had only been a couple of hours since we welcomed him into the world. It was all laughter and smiles in the OR that afternoon as the doctor joked that she was glad he was going home with us and not her because his screaming was loud and relentless. He weighed in at a whopping 8 pounds and 8 ounces. Healthy as a horse. Or so it appeared. We were in heaven. Brand new parents with the cutest and sweetest little guy that God had ever made.
The light of the day fell away quickly. It was just supposed to be a 4 hour observation in the NICU. Lots of C-section babies turn blue. It was no big deal. He would be back in my arms in no time. I, of course, was devastated. I wasn’t supposed to have a NICU baby. I had the perfect pregnancy. He was healthy and strong and beautiful. He didn’t belong in the NICU.
Josh went to check on him. He stayed gone too long. Something was wrong. I could feel it in my bones. Fear. He sat on the edge of my bed with tears on his face.
“Something is wrong with his heart.”
That was the moment that my entire life changed.
Sure. It had changed already. I became a mom that day. But this… this was a different kind of different. I was no longer a new mom celebrating the best day of my life. I was a new mom celebrating the worst one.
We sat with him in the NICU until the ambulance got there. I prayed over him and spoke scripture over him and my tears fell on his sweet face. I said goodbye. I didn’t know if I would ever see him again.
They pushed me in my wheelchair to the last possible point that they would let me go. I had already pushed all of the limits that they were comfortable with that day. I had just had a major surgery and I was their patient. They wouldn’t let me go outside with him. They pushed him around the corner and he was gone. And my heart was gone too.
That was it. That was the moment when I understood what it meant, the quote.
Four years later I am a mom to two of the cutest sweetest little guys on the planet. Over time I adapted to the life of being a CHD mom. My son has CHD. I say it all the time. It’s usually met with “I’m so sorry,” to which I respond, “That’s ok. God’s big.”
It’s my normal. I don’t know any other life but mine.
On May 16th we’ll celebrate 4 years since Jack’s last OHS and 17 days until his next one.
My little family has survived the extraordinary. Those moments that define your life. We’ve had more than our fair share already and we certainly have some more coming our way. I learned who I was in those moments. I learned what it means to be a mom in that hospital room.
Being a mom means loving someone else more than you ever knew you could. It means giving more even when you have nothing left to give. It means crying. A lot. And it means JOY. So much joy.
My story isn’t all about hospital beds and tears. Let me tell you about my joy.
Jack is now four years old and he is a thriving, wild, t-ball playing, outside-loving little boy who loves fiercely and brings light and joy to every room he enters. Last year Jack took on his biggest role yet when he became a big brother to Harrison who is a chunky little sweetie pie who smiles all the time and loves to play and laugh.
Being a mom to them means that I have joy every single day. I have fear and doubt and uncertainty but, hear me friend, I have JOY.
Jack uses this little silly voice when he talks to Harrison. He voices both sides of the conversation since Harrison can’t talk yet. It makes Harrison laugh and it makes my heart explode with happy hearts and butterflies because they love each other so much and I love them so much. JOY.
Harrison sleeps like a rock (something Jack has never done) and when he’s asleep for the night and Jack is getting ready for bed we sit down and read a Bible story and Jack looks at the pictures and tells me all about the story that we are learning about. He prays for our family and tells Jesus thank you and that he LOVES him. Joy.
Harrison smells like heaven. When he’s been a sleep for a while at night I go in and check on him. Recently he’s started sleeping on his tummy with his chubby little legs tucked up under him and his cute little bottom sticking up in the air. His curly hair will be wild all over his head and his face will be squished against his whale sheets and his breaths will be so quiet that they’re barely audible and I’ll just sit there and stare at him and thank God for him. Joy.
I was driving down the road last week and both boys were being super quiet so I turned my head to see what they were up to and they were just sitting in their car seats with their sweet little arms stretched out holding hands. Joy.
Being a mom means I don’t ever sleep. I always have to share my food. My to-do list is 4 miles long and always growing. My laundry mountain is forever daunting. My floors are always dirty, even after I just cleaned them. My phone is always covered in a strange combination of chocolate, snot, and some other unknown substances. My mind is always worried. My heart is always full.
I look at my boys and my heart is overwhelmed with love for them. To think that the God of the universe loves me with the same ferocity that I love them. More even. And to know that He loves them even more than I do. There are no words.
God pours His grace out onto us mothers. We need it, believe me. But He blesses us with the ability to juggle the crazy and handle the fear. And He allows us the opportunity to love in the same capacity that He loves us. It’s exceptional to watch your heart walk around outside of your body. It truly is.