I don’t even have to close my eyes to remember exactly where i was at this time two years ago when otto had his open heart surgery.
It was hot and Joe, baby Otto and I went for a walk to dinner in downtown Grand Rapids before we headed to the guest room at the hospital which would be our room for almost the next three weeks. We were so unprepared. We didn’t know if we were having our last dinner for who knows how long or if we were supposed to celebrate that otto was going to have a surgery to make his life better… i don’t know what made us go out.. maybe we didn’t want to just sit and wait for the morning to come. We went to 616 a restaurant over looking the river and tried to prepare ourselves for what was to come.
I remember the manager of the restaurant coming over and ask us what we were up to, if we were celebrating anything. I didn’t know how to answer so I just kind of blurted out “Our baby is having open heart surgery tomorrow”. I could see him look at us not knowing what to say. But he paid for our dinner and wished us luck.
We walked back up the hill laughing at the irony at how hard it was to climb and how beautiful of a night it was.
As we got ready for bed I had to wash otto with this iron colored antiseptic soap. I’m not sure why I had to do that but I did what the doctors told me to do. I washed his little chest with this stinky soap stroking it for the last time without the scare that would soon divide his little body in half.
That night Joe and I slept in shifts because otto could no longer sleep lying flat because he would cough and cough and struggle to breathe. we took turns sitting upright with him. it was hell. it was just absolute hell.
The alarm didn’t have to go off we were already awake. We got our things together and made our way through the halls of the hospital and down to the surgical floor. We checked in, we waited, we prayed with the reverend, we did all of the post op. Then it came time to let go. was this really my life? I asked the nurse to please take a photo of us. I don’t know why. I guess I thought… what if this is it? She took the photo of us as a family and then came to take otto back. I’ll never forget her looking me dead in the eye and saying “I’m a mother too, I know how hard this is. I am going to take good care of him”. I desperately gave Otto one more kiss, one more hug, one more kiss. Finally the nurse told joe that he had to take me out of here. How did he do that? I couldn’t move myself. I’m grateful God gave him some strength in that moment because I sure didn’t have any.
Surgery was a blur and dr. Haw performed an absolute miracle. You can read more about that here. But I will never forget having to blurt out “IS HE OK IS HE ALIVE”. And when doctor Haw gave me this look like, I got this. I could feel the blood rushing back through my veins. Our next step was getting well enough to get out of there. We had our fair share of set backs. Issues that when we were in it i didn’t even realize we had. I was so focused on Otto’s heart that I didn’t even read up on his kidney issues which is what ended up causing us a lot of our troubles.
I could go on and on but the image of my baby laying on a stark white bed puffy, bloody, full of tubes, wires and machines will give me nightmares the rest of my life.
And here we are. Two years from surgery later. With a happy healthy funny little boy. Tonight as I called him from my hotel room we sang the little pig song and he sang the wolf part with so much energy it just made my heart explode.
Tomorrow we are going to CELEBRATE where we are today. We do not take it for granted and give the glory to God for the grace he has shown to us. These past two years have tested and grown my faith and ways i’ve never thought possible. We are so grateful to be here and are grateful for all the support that has been given to our family. We do not know what the future holds but we know there are bright days ahead and we choose each day to let faith win over fear.