Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength,
while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
My pregnancy began like most. It started with excitement and a tinge of nerves. My husband and I were so happy to start a little family. I was lucky and didn’t have any morning sickness. I was comfortable and really only gained weight in my bump. I thought the pregnancy was easy and enjoyable.
It was at 20 weeks that we went in to find out the gender. We both felt we were having a boy. We even named the baby. Walking into the doctors that day was the most excited that we had been during the pregnancy. It suddenly felt real.
The woman giving the ultrasound told us right away that we were having a boy. I never knew I could smile that big. So many happy thoughts went through my mind as I squeezed my husband’s hand in excitement.
She continued to look at our baby boy. She named off the parts she was checking, like they did at every ultrasound before that. I wasn’t listening as intently as I usually did. I was too busy planning our future in my head. But I remember the moment I felt it, a feeling of dread. She looked for too long at his heart and she became too quiet. My grip of excitement changed to one of fear and my husband’s expression fell.
She finally said she saw something that she wanted the doctor to look at, and my tears began. A doctor walked in and looked at our baby on the screen. He sat next to us and began to explain that our baby’s great arteries were switched. His disease was called Transposition of the Great Arteries.
Confusion set in. I understood what the doctor said, but my emotions hit me hard. I just found out that I was having a baby boy. My son already had a name, Everett. I could picture him on Christmas morning opening trucks and everything Star Wars, see him playing pass with my husband, snuggling in our bed watching Batman cartoons. I could see how handsome and strong he would be, how kind and loving he’d become.
And in that second those visions of our future were taken from me. I felt robbed of happiness. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t think of one question other than “is he going to be ok?” I wanted to ask more but I just couldn’t fathom something wrong with the little boy I saw, so healthy and so happy.
The next few weeks were hard. My pregnancy changed. Talking about my pregnancy changed. I felt the same physically, but I felt a sense of loss. Not a loss of my baby, but a loss of happiness and excitement. I felt sad and scared and felt a sense of guilt for feeling that way. I tried to stay positive but it was hard.
It was after we went to the cardiologist that I felt a little better. He met with us for hours, explaining and drawing out every little detail of what Everett’s heart looked like, what it should look like, and how they would fix it. As much as I appreciated the information and needed to hear the medical procedures, that’s not what gave me peace. It was as we were gathering our belongings that the cardiologist said, “all you need to do right now is go home, hold each other, and cry.” And that’s what we did.
After that, it was a waiting game. We had a lot more appointments than a healthy pregnancy would have. They repeated the steps of procedures to us each time. Hearing statistics never got easier, but focusing on Everett’s growth helped immensely. I read about what he would be developing each week; hearing, finger nails, hair, sight. It all reminded me that he was progressing.
We read to him each night and dreamed about our future. We wondered about what he would look like, what his hobbies would be, what adventures we could go on.
As my belly grew, my excitement began to grow again, but so did my fears. I was anxious to meet Everett, but scared for him to leave his safe haven.
At 39 weeks, I was induced. We went into the hospital on a Friday morning and left almost three weeks later.
We are home now and enjoying every minute of being a family. The pregnancy was scary, the surgery scarier, but the outcome was worth it.
I’m often asked how we dealt with such a difficult time. And my answer is “our love for Everett gave him strength, and us courage.”