I hope you enjoy hearing from my sweet friend, Tracy, mom to little Annie who was born not quite two years ago with half a heart. I continue to watch her live daily life normally yet constantly aware that Annie’s heart could fail. And a month ago a routine appointment revealed heart failure had begun again. As she and her husband Matt aggressively work for solutions,Tracy continues to fix her eyes and heart on Jesus. I hope you will read her story, marvel at the wonders of God’s work and pray for Tracy and her family as they travel to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia the last week of March to explore solutions. Thanks friends! -Barbara
The day the white-coated specialist announced, “I’m sorry. Something’s wrong with your baby’s heart. She probably won’t live to be born,” was the scariest day of my life.
Covered in cold ultrasound goop, snotty nosed and red-eyed, sobbing that half of my unborn daughter’s heart was missing, I refused the recommended abortion. Instead, I agreed to a test that would let us know in 6 to 10 days if her diagnosis was even “compatible with life” that I’d just chosen for her.
Hadn’t the intricate images on the screen been enough? What more information could he need?
Annie’s long-awaited birth day came April 10, 2014. She let us know she had arrived with the most delightful, ear-piercing wail. Her skin shone a healthy pink hue. She was 7lbs 6oz of round cheeks, wrinkly toes, and thick dark hair.
The blue-gloved NICU audience whisked her immediately from my doctor’s hands into the corner of the delivery room. What did they need so quickly and so badly that meant a mother’s arms couldn’t snuggle her first?
Five-day-old Annie was finally bathed and prepped for her first lifesaving surgery.
But to put her walnut-sized heart on bypass to start the procedure, a large vile of someone else’s liquid red was needed to prime the pump. Without it, the heart repair would have never been an option. There’s one supply that made it possible.
One regular Friday morning in June, 8 short weeks later, our smiling, snuggling, nestling baby was ours. That same regular Friday afternoon we had to give her back. Her doctor was concerned that a routine heart echo revealed that her heart wasn’t working. It was hard to believe that healthy, chubby Annie could have a heart that was deathly sick again. But there was one sure way to confirm.
Several hours later, her doctor called to report, “I have bad news.” The numbers that guarantee some level of heart failure is present were sky high. This giggler was admitted to the cardiac intensive care unit.
Every day for 31 days of June and July, a masked nurse visited her ICU room. Upon his entrance Annie locked eyes and an innocent smile broke across her chubby face, realizing oh, I know him!
She does not remember that “him” is the one who swabs the site and pierces the vein while Annie shrieks and searches for me. As quickly as it began, the nurse covered the fading sticky residue with a new Sesame Street strip, satisfied that he got what he came for.
Today, a joyful, silly, normally-developing, loving, hugging, kissing, jabbering, spunky (almost) two-year-old miracle’s body doesn’t yet know that her heart is deathly sick again. But the pictures on the screens suggested it and we remembered the sure way to confirm it.
Today, Annie is currently waiting to undergo a cardiac catheterization to determine if her birth heart is still salvageable, though failing severely, or if she needs to list for a transplant to receive someone else’s new heart instead. Today, I’m a mother who’s grateful to have gotten so many more days with Annie than I was ever told to hope for. But I still ache for more.
Time and time again on this journey, I’ve seen that blood continues to hold the answer. But not Annie’s. Not a kind, selfless donor’s. No—that blood isn’t enough to get us through these days, through this life.
There’s only one person’s blood who is enough to promise me that even though it doesn’t feel like it right now, all will be right in the end. There’s only one person’s blood who gives me strength for today and hope for tomorrow. There’s only one person’s blood that assures me Annie was designed and is cared for by a good God. That’s the blood of Jesus, whose death and resurrection we celebrate this month.
Because He has poured His life-giving blood out as the eternal sacrifice for my sins and defeated death, I can be certain that I am clinging to a God who knows what He’s doing…even when I wish He’d fill me in on the secret.
“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things…making peace by the blood of his cross.” –Colossians 1:19-20.
To follow Annie’s story visit heartforannie.wordpress.com.