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A Letter to My Heart Child on His Birthday

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A Letter to My Heart Child on His Birthday

A Letter to My Heart Child on His Birthday

Dear Caden,

Last night I crept into your room to watch you sleep. I cracked your door and peered in, holding my breath as I tiptoed across your room to sit cross-legged at the side of your bed. It has become my yearly ritual: staring in silence, watching the peaceful rise and fall of your chest; jealous of your longer-than-mine eyelashes fanning across your cheekbones, your father’s nose and your adorable little mouth, lips puckered and slightly parted as you sleep.

A Letter to My Heart Child on His Birthday

Every year on this day I sneak in and watch, remembering the many times I thought this day would never come. You turn 10  years old today; entering the big double digits! There were times the doctors told us that your chances of survival were slim.

A Letter to My Heart Child on His Birthday

There was a time we were faced with making the decision of letting you go peacefully or facing the nearly insurmountable odds of you living a “normal” life. We weighed the outcome, considering your quality of life, if you were able to come off of life support at all, and what that would mean. We chose to let you fight, and fight you did. I am so proud and humbled that I get to play the role of your mother.

A Letter to My Heart Child on His Birthday

On this day I remember the times I stood outside your hospital room, all those years ago, watching as the doctors and nurses fought to bring you back. There was a period of time during which it felt as if I watched our lives as a spectator, from the outside looking in. This couldn’t possibly by my child. My firstborn, my sweet little baby boy. 

A Letter to My Heart Child on His Birthday

There were hours, days on end even, that I would stare at the monitors as they buzzed and dinged, waiting for your heart to stabilize, for your body to heal and grow and to become stronger. There were times, even well after we had been sent home from the hospital, that I could not envision this day. I could not imagine that we would end up as a whole and unbroken family.

A Letter to My Heart Child on His Birthday

I tried not to imagine you as older and taller, running and playing, reading books and working on your math homework; succeeding in school, making friends and growing up a “normal” kid. For the longest time I was scared to imagine it, I couldn’t let myself; just in case. But you didn’t let that happen. You are so strong. You are so loving and kind, and I love that about you.

A Letter to My Heart Child on His Birthday

There have been many times that I have contemplated your birthday and what it signifies. To me, this day signifies your courage and strength and a grace I’m sure you did not learn from me. As the day approaches every year, and I reflect on your life, I find myself in awe of you again and again. Every year you look more like a man instead of my little boy. I cherish this day, and not only as the day you was born, but as a day of celebration and a reminder that miracles really do happen, and that everything happens for a reason. I couldn’t wrap my head around that last one at the time, but I think I’m starting to get it now. Thank you for teaching me this. 

A Letter to My Heart Child on His Birthday

Last night, as I sat and watched you sleep, I reveled in the soft, rhythmic cadence of your breathing. In and out, so softly and securely. No monitors dinging, no vitals being taken, no labs to be drawn and sent away for analysis. You are doing it all yourself, surviving all on your own. Thank you for being mine, I am so glad and proud that you are. 

A Letter to My Heart Child on His Birthday

Happy birthday, little man, to the moon and back, I love you,

Mom

About Ashlea and Caden

This may be the anniversary of Caden’s birth, but it is not simply the day I became a mother. This is the anniversary of the day I gained a warrior. A heart warrior, a LIFE warrior and a true champion.

Caden is now 12 years old and was born with a rare congenital heart defect, Truncus Arteriosus, type II. We did not know about his heart defect until he was two months of age, after significant damage had been done to his heart and lungs due to significantly increased blood flow. He was on life support for two weeks following his second surgery in 2007, at the age of 5 months. He has had three open heart surgeries to date (the most recent in August of 2015), he was on ECMO for eight days, and has had one catheterization and three exploratory surgeries.

After all of this, he is now doing very well! His heart function will need to be monitored his entire life, and he will most likely require more open heart surgeries as he grows and ages, but he has taken this all in stride. Caden is preparing to stand with the American Heart Association in early 2017.

More about Heart Health and CHD

Things I Wish I Would Have Known About Having a Critically Ill Child
Ways to Help Prepare a Child for Their Sibling’s Surgery
Caden’s Feet: Walking the Path of Congenital Heart Defect {CHD Parent}
Living With CHD: Learning Barriers for Children with Congenital Heart Defects
Warning Signs of Heart Failure in Children

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3 Comments

  1. I'm so glad I found your blog! I am a retired pediatric nurse and I am greatly moved by your story. He is a miracle! God bless him and you as parents and your family in its wholeness! Praise God alone!
  2. Ashlea, my daughter Kryssy has a best friend Kim Rosa whose daughter Paisley had open heart surgery at ten days old, two years old and is facing a third next year. She was born with half a heart but that little girl is a true warrior who has beaten all the odds . I couldn’t believe how much love I could have for a child I have only prayed for but have never met. Paisley is my hero , a real little Princess. I am sorry that you have to watch your precious son struggle to survive but he seems to be handling it well. I lost my daughter Connie four months before she turned eleven so your story about watching your Caden sleep touched me and I just wanted you to know. ❤️
    1. Oh, thank you Karen. I am so sorry to hear about your daughter and I will be keep Paisley in my prayers. ♥