How do I begin to describe the last few days? When you live with a child with a heart condition you live in time periods. The time between appointments, the time between tests and what the results might be. For me, the last 6 months has been a delight, a relishing (not the condiment) of simple childhood joys, the blowing of bubbles, running n the grass, sleepy cuddles and deep belly laughs of my kids. As the days moved closer to Georgia's 1 year follow-up from open heart surgery, a slow worry began to gnaw at me. She seemed fine but what if I was wrong? Was her coloring off? Was she more tired that normal? Was it all in my iamgination? Would we be back in the hospital like before. Logic told me that she was most likely fine but the journey of her being so very sick still sits so vivid in my mind.
It is always incredibly surreal walking back through the hospital doors. Georgia immediately found one of the little taxicabs cars that she loved to be pushed in during her week of stablization before surgery before. Before. I watched my chubby little girl being pushed wildly in circles by her older sister and the shadow of the tiny, frail blue girl that she had been was right there in my mind. But I had to keep reminding myself that there she was, our little gift, giggling and shouting "Again!" as loudly as she could to her sister.
We got into the room for the echo and Georgia looked at the machine, pulled up her dress and said, "up?" As I snuggled up on the hospital bed next to her she looked so small, almost swallowed up in all of the sterile white. The bright colored fishy crackers her sister kept feeding her the only reminder that this room was for children.
The technician came in and dimmed the lights, Georgia just laid right down and held still, aleternately watching the screen and the Dora video that had been started. I watched the technician. Watched her eyes, watched her face, closely watched the wrinkles on her brows for any sign of worry, any sign of what she might be seeing as she looked at my precious girl's heart. It was such a vivid moment. In many ways I wish so hard that we did not have to do these appointments, that I could wave a magic wand and have Georgia's heart not be an issue at all. To open the door and let her run and play without another thought of anything to hinder her ever again. But in another way, I sat there holding my Georgia and I was struck so deeply. Deeply by what a gift she is, what a gift all three of my kids are. That they are a gift that is fragile and I do not know how long I get to treasure any of them. It is so easy in the mundane of meals, coloring, and the kiddie pools of life to miss how absolutely precious, beyond precious they are to me. It made me want to scoop all three of them up and go and run and play and just watch them, soak them in, soak up the beauty of them. I remember a character in a play once saying, "Nobody looks at each other anymore, I wish they would just stop and really see each other."
As Georgia lay there holding my hand, chest covered in gel in that dark little room, dark eyes looking up trustingly at me, it felt like so many things shifted. Like God helped show me what matters.
Then the tech did the thing I dreaded most, she stopped the echo and said, "I'm not going to clean her up just yet...I think I'll go and see if the doctor wants to take a look at some of this first." My stomach dropped and a panic filled my brain. I prayed hard. First for the tech to be wrong, for her heart to be ok. The tech did not come back for ten minutes so I had time to keep praying! As I did, again something shifted. Sitting there on that bed in the dark, Georgia in my lap her chest covered in gel, Dora the Explorer blaring....I realized that what the doctor said or found was not what was most important. Georgia was a beyond pricless gift for however long we got to hold her and no matter the outcome, God was still God...he was still just as good no matter what happened. He still had given this beyond precious gift to us.
Finally, after coming back in two more times and pressing things on the echo machine, the tech wiped Georgia's chest clean and said that we could go back to the exam room. After what felt like a long time later Georgia's cardiologist came in and quickly said, "I am so sorry we kept you waiting...we had computer problems and the images weren't uploading! But Georgia's heart looks beautiful!!! It looks the same as last time. She is stable and on the growth charts so I say...let's bump her to once a year appointments! Treat her like a normal toddler!"
By this time, Miss Georgia was using the little taxicabs as a slide, Ravenna had covered the cardiology staff with stickers and fishy crackers were in bits all over the floor. I tried to soak up what they were saying but it was a bit of a blur!
On the way home, Georgia snoring from her carseat, the tears finally came...tears of thanksgiving and of remembering...tears of joy to God for all He had done. For that day in China when I first held Georgia, so weak and so sick to now. We have a one year reprieve. A whole year of kisses and cuddles and toddler joy. My prayer is that I let the lessons sink in and soak up the little things and let God worry about the what-ifs that are still to come.