Custom made hearts are more common than you think.

img_2883When I explain to anyone Eva’s medical issues, as soon as I mention heart surgery, the expression on their face seems to get more despondent .  There is so much of  a respect and fear for the heart that people tend to understand immediately how serious your child’s condition is if you mention they have a heart issue.  With that being said, I don’t think people know how common it is for children to be diagnosed with a heart condition.  For example I have 2 childhood friends that both have children who also had complicated heart surgeries (one just a few days ago) at a young age. Because of the complex properties of the heart, all three of our children have had different interventions and thank God all three of them are doing well.

As I was driving today to visit one of those friends (mentioned previously) at the hospital so I could finally meet their little one after he just had open heart surgery, I almost turned around a few times because my anxiety of it all almost took control of me.  The emotions I felt were taking me back to when Eva was having heart surgery herself and my sadness overcame me.  It was overwhelming, but I followed through and I am so glad I did.  It was nice to see how incredible her son was doing and to put a face with the many, many, many prayers I sent up for him.  I was also reminded how much I want to go to nursing school.  I don’t think I ever felt so passionately about a career choice than this.

Watching my friend, a new mom, experience something that most parents will never have to deal with, (i.e. the extended hospital stay, cords tangling, monitors beeping, Doctors and nurses being obnoxiously loud in the room where your baby is trying to nap through the pain, X-rays, echos, sutures from a fresh open wound) makes me realize how truly hand picked we are for these very difficult times.  We have to hand over our child to a surgeon to cut them open and repair a heart you grew yourself, you have to let nurses watch over your child and hope they don’t miss any red flags and we have to trust God that his plan is one that shows mercy to your child.  After an experience like that you learn to appreciate your boring, repetitive life at home, as ridiculous as it sounds.

As I left the hospital I went into an elevator with a kid (maybe in his 20’s) that had a artificial heart in a backpack.  Want to talk about putting things into perspective.  I wanted so badly to talk to him because I am 100% sure most people are intimidated by his situation but all I got out of my mouth was, “have a good day”.  I was so disappointed in myself because I wanted to tell him how amazing and special he is because he lives in an time where his unusual circumstances allows him to walk, talk and live!  All I can think is God has such a purpose for him and all of our children.  Especially our children that require medical attention who also live in a time where these medical advances have allowed them to live a longer life, and they wouldn’t necessarily have had that option, just 50 years ago.

I am so grateful for Eva and her experiences, because while she went through them physically, I went through the same experiences but on an emotional level and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.  I have become stronger, more aggressive (especially in situations where I need to be for my children) and at the same time softer.  I have adapted to situations where some people think is impossible to overcome.  You never know what you can survive from until after the dust settles.

My sweet Eva.

My sweet Eva.

I can’t promise that this surgery will be your last, as a matter of fact I know it won’t be.  You will need to have another one on your heart sometime when you are a young woman, that is if your heart doesn’t tell us that it needs to be intervened sooner.  Until then we will be focused on staying on top of every doctor/specialist appointments.  Yes my love, other girls that have turners syndrome have no signs or symptoms of it, but don’t forget that some girls won’t be able to take their first breath and you did, but it came with a price.  Some girls fight to have a better body, you fight to keep yours.  Some girls fight to not have their hearts broken, you fight to keep yours beating.  You have had to fight harder than most to live so don’t ever take that for granted.  After this surgery you will have another battle scar so wear it with pride because some girls care more about not having an imperfection but your “imperfections” perfect you.

Don’t loose that fire in your spirit that drives your mommy, daddy and brother crazy.  We know that same fire is the reason we have you today.  Don’t loose that funny laugh that forces you to tuck your chin in because we know you deserve to laugh after everything you have gone through.  Don’t loose that sweet smile because you light up our days knowing you are with us and you didn’t have to be.  God put us all together because He knew we needed each other, and we go through all these hardships because He knows we need Him, we always will.  You are never alone my love.

My sweet love, you were born with turners syndrome, but that is not who you are.  You are not a syndrome, you are not fragile, you are not a sad story.  What you are my sweet love, is a Devereux.  You are a warrior.  You are unbreakable.  You are solid and you are made with the unyielding love of our Father Lord Jesus.

I feel like I have already made so many mistakes.

The babies are 18 months old and I can’t help to feel like I have already let them down, despite my effort to never do so.  This week Eva had to go by ambulance to the ER because of a high fever and because she was so inconsolable her lips were turning blue.  While we were waiting for the ambulance I had both babies in my arms and I started to cry exactly like them.  Eva was in pain, Eidan was scared and I am their mom and it is my job to help them and I couldn’t.

Through an X-ray a hiatal hernia was officially confirmed and now she needs another surgery to correct that as well as to fix the fundoplication that she already has.  The same fundoplication that and has given us problems since day one.  Even though its been rough we have finally found a system that works for us and were going to back to square one right after this next surgery.  We don’t know if this time things will be better, or worse.  I can’t help but feel right back in that dark room I was in months following the birth of the babies.

I am tired of seeing her through pain, I am tired of being away from my son, and I am tired of only seeing my husband when we switch out from the hospital.  I don’t want my daughter to have yet another battle scar, I don’t want to miss out on my nightly rituals with my son, I don’t want to have to update my husband or get updates of our daughter, depending on who’s with her that day/night at the hospital when she has to go in again.

I don’t know how I am going to tell her how incredibly strong and how fucking unbelievable she is despite every one of her imperfections when she becomes a teenager and she starts to notice.  I don’t know how I will tell her that God made her heart the way he made it in perfect timing and for perfect reasons.  That she was born at a time that it could be repaired because he knew the love in her heart was too much a regular heart could handle.  I will tell her that scar on her side from that procedure is beautiful.  The g-tube and fundoplication scar was put there because she had to learn to eat by mouth later in life, because during the crucial period that babies learn to drink out of the bottle, she was too weak and needed to focus on healing and growing to get out of the hospital to be back with her brother.   I will tell her as soon as the g-tube is taken out and after a scar forms that it is beautiful and I couldn’t wait until I saw that one created.  The cystic hygroma was the first thing the doctors saw when they realized there was an issue when she was still in my belly, and it was a reminder of the long hard road for all of us.  When it was removed that reminder that every doctor said she was not going to survive was gone with it.  That scar is my favorite and I will tell her its beautiful.

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I will always tell my son that he is just as special as his sister.  I will tell him she is no more important than him because I know he will feel like that.  I will tell him I recognized at a very early age that he is very perceptive and extraordinary.  I will let him know I tried very hard to give him extra time after Eva goes to bed so he knows he’s important too.  I know he will feel like she gets more attention sometimes because of her health but I will remind him that she is alive because of him and he is alive because of her and that is a bond that is more precious than any person can describe.  I will remind him that he is always her protector and God planned this perfectly for His purpose.  I will forever thank him for his patience, love and sensitivity that reminds me so much of his father, and is reason why I fell in love with his father in the first place.

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Thank you God for every day and every battle.  Don’t let me forget any of it.

September 2, 2014

On September 2, 2014, I was 34 weeks and 5 days pregnant, going in for my weekly doctors appointment when she told me that not only is baby girl still not growing and having unusual heart issues but baby boys heart is doing something unusual so today is the day were taking them out.  The only thing going through my mind at that point was after today I will officially be a mother.  A mother to possible twins, assuming baby girl does well and at this point also baby boy.

After a few hours of being monitored it was time for the whole sha-bang.  They took me into the white room, where I got my epidural and soon after where there was a white sheet covering my belly and below.  As soon as the doctor came in, I knew it was time.  Dad was able to come in and there they go cutting away.  I remember I was freezing to the point that it distracted my mind from everything that was going on and thats probably a great thing.

They were born 10:23 pm and 10:24 pm.  Our son Eidan came out first weighing 4.5 lbs and oh my goodness he was a dream come true.  He was having heart issues because he was wrapped around his umbilical cord four times.  Thank God the doctor took him out that day.  Our daughter, Eva weighed 3.5 lbs and was hauled away and I didn’t get to see her until I was in recovery where they brought her to me and informed me they would be sending her to another hospital the same night.  Comes to find out on the Apgar score she rated between a 2-3.  She wasn’t doing the best but she was alive and she literally came out fighting like a champ.

When I first saw Eva, she was in a incubator and it was very difficult to see her without wondering what her future was going to look like.  She was very puffy all over with severed edema  on her hands and feet.  Under her head there was a pillow of skin (called a cystic hygroma) that sat under her head.  We knew these things were there because it is part of turners syndrome and thanks to the ultrasounds it gave us an idea of how large it these things were, but nothing could prepare us for how it looked like in person.

When I went into my room after recovery I was left exhausted, physically, mentally and emotionally.  As I look back I realized something special…  I feel like if Eva wouldn’t have survived the pregnancy Eidan would have either, and, if Eidan wasn’t having trouble with his umbilical cord and forced us to have the c-section that day, then I believe Eva wouldn’t have been able to survive much longer.  So in a way they both saved each other.

 

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Eidan Knight Devereux
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Eva Kirley Devereux