Thirteen years ago I became a mother. I still remember the feeling so well, it wasn’t the way I had wanted it to go, nor was it the way I had planned. It was an emergency C-section that stole the baby from my womb and then rushed him over to the SickKids Cardiac Critical Care Unit. I was left alone in the room, in pain, suffering from high blood pressure and a reaction to the morphine. I was scared, I was empty, and I had no idea if my new son was alive or not. It was one of the longest nights of my life.
Yesterday we celebrated thirteen years of life with that baby, my baby, Joshua. As we sat together yesterday morning watching him open his gifts and seeing him smiling and joking around with his brother I was struck by the amazing gifts we have been given through his entire journey of life so far and Tim and I both reflected on how this birthday feels different. We hadn’t known if he would live out the night all those years ago, the doctors sure hadn’t been optimistic, and here we are; parents of a teenager. His childhood is over and a new chapter is starting and it’s a little sad but also really exciting. There is so much to anticipate.
When I lay down to sleep last night I thought back through it all, the fear and the worry, the pain and the sadness, the new dreams I had to create, the new hopes I had to imagine. This child has been a gift in more ways than most. God used him to teach me so much about himself, about me, about life and love and hopes and dreams and darkness and light. He taught me patience and pain and he taught me about joy. He taught me that love doesn’t always come in the package we were expecting, and he taught me that his blessings will always come overflowing. There is a place for pain and grief, a place for failures and wins, a place for hope and fears. There is a place for love, there is always room for love. I hadn’t known my heart could love this much, that I could be stretched so far and not break, that I could stand so close to the edge and not fall, or be so close to drowning and still find breath. God didn’t stand in the background watching, he was wielding his sword on the battle field, shielding us from the giants faced. When I was drowning it was his arm that scooped me from the water, when I was on the edge it was his hand that drew me back. When I thought I couldn’t possibly have room for more love, he brought Joshua, and then our sweet Kaper and my life is impossibly full, more than I had ever imagined possible.
February is Heart month, and I can never forget it as I see Joshua running around me, growing, thriving and changing. If not for the countless who have come before us Joshua wouldn’t be here celebrating becoming a teenager. If not for the doctors and scientists who have opened their hearts to love these kids and care what happens to them we wouldn’t have our oldest with us and I am forever grateful. I didn’t know about Congenital Heart Defects before Joshua was diagnosed, I had no idea that a baby could be born with a broken heart. I had always seen the devastating sickkids commercials and felt sorry for the parents; I don’t feel sorry for them anymore because now I know that it’s a joy to be one of them, a strange kind of painful joy that comes only from knowing how close you come to the edge and then surviving, and knowing a child who is a warrior, who can teach me more about the concepts of pain and suffering than I would ever want to know and yet still get up every morning with a smile on his face and hope in his heart. These kids have so much to teach us and we are blessed to know them.
Thirteen years ago, sitting in that room all alone, I never could have imagined how my life was about to change so dramatically. Joshua, and then Kaleb turned me from a caterpillar to a butterfly, yes, there were years in a cocoon but I emerged with their help, with Tim’s help and with God’s help.
Thank you Tim, Joshua and Kaleb for being the amazing men who made me fly.
You can read about the entire journey in my book, get it at any online book retailer or through my shop.