Today was a red letter day -- our little five year old Alaena Grace was seen by her cardiologist and she came through with flying colors. Everyone in the office is now aware of her great set of lungs! I was a hot mess trying to keep her quiet and her arms to her sides while the cardiologist smeared gel around with the probe and stickies with wires attached to them covered her little back. But his findings that the repaired holes in her heart showed no leakage and we don't have to go back for two years filled me with such JOY!!
My mind wandered back to the first time I sat in that same office. Still pregnant with Alaena, I clung desperately to Kristi Street’s hand. Kristi was my ears and voice during this visit - I was numb. This time, I was the one smeared with gel and being probed. I lay completely still thinking I would wake up soon from this nightmare. I listened to the doctor confirming there appeared to be holes in her heart. It was common in babies with Down’s Syndrome. The doctor met with me for an hour trying to paint a picture of other families that loved their children with Down’s Syndrome. I didn't believe him.
For I know the plans I have for you
We met, Alaena and I, face to face in the hospital. Alaena had holes in her heart as predicted, but she was so very little at 4 pounds and 2 ounces, they wanted her to gain weight before surgery. I didn't love Alaena at once. I was gripped in fear and asking God, “How could you do this to me? To us? Hadn't our lives had enough challenges already?” I bargained with God. I yelled at God. I cried buckets.
At five months of age, Alaena wasn't gaining weight. The holes in her heart were too big and it took all her little energy just to stay alive. We scheduled heart surgery for her. I prayed for Alaena but if she didn't make it I understood. I had learned lessons. I had been changed. God had used her to change me. I'm ashamed to even write these words but when FEAR takes over....
not to harm you but give you hope
What a miracle open heart surgery is - and on one so little. Not only did the surgery repair the holes in Alaena’s little heart but in mine too --stitch by stitch, moment by moment -- my heart was being repaired too. Love was growing. The plan that God had begun was being revealed in who I was becoming.
So five and half years later, we return to the same office. Our journey has gone from fear and alienation to a fierce love and pride in my little one’s accomplishments. The journey is still uncharted - but joy has replaced fear. Trust has replaced anger.
and a future....
How could God do this TO me? He did this FOR me!! I love this little pickle and all her ups and downs. We are on a journey -- one that is filled with hope and our planned future. What a relief it is that I can lean into Him on this journey. I still have to reach for my magnifying glasses when it comes time to change her diaper but God doesn't make mistakes and I'm claiming that!!
In case you haven't seen us running around the halls, may I take a moment to introduce you to my sweet Alaena?