I sit every evening and thank God for bringing Mended Little Hearts into our lives. When my daughter found out at 33 weeks that her son, Gabriel, was going to be born with heart problems we felt all alone.
I remember that day so clearly March 5, 2010 the day before her baby shower.
We tried to have a good time at the shower and stay positive, but deep in our hearts our mind was on my first born grandchild. Everyone would tell us he would be okay and that things would be fine or we know what your going through, but none of that took the pain of hearing your child will have to be rushed from your arms and taken to Pittsburgh Childrens Hospital when he is born and have open heart surgery within days of his birth.
The days leading up to that we had to plan our strategy: What would we do with her four year old son with a diagnosis of ADHD, ODD and other issues. She didnt want the baby to go alone to Pittsburgh, and where are we all going to stay. Social workers called and put some things into motion, but we still had the empty feeling of what to expect when our little man came into this world.
I found Mended Little Hearts online when I did a search. What? I thought are people really going through the same things as us? Someone that really knows the heart-ache and pain we are experiencing? I jumped at the first chance to email and Andrea the local chapter’s coordinator, our angel, immediately replied We communicated back and forth up to the day we had to be at the hospital. On the day that our little man came into our lives, Andrea and her son, Trent were there with us. We had never met until that day, but what a joy—not having to say a word to each other—but knowing that Andrea felt the pain our hearts were experiencing and the loving bond we share with our little heart warriors.
On April 11, 2010 Gabriel had his first surgery. And yes, our new found Mended Little Hearts Family was again by our side, but now we got to meet her husband, Brett. They brought us meals, took my four-year-old grandson Antonio overnight….they were our rock. To know we weren’t alone in a strange town all by ourselves, and to see the love and compassion in there eyes….words could never express how much this meant to us.
Now four months later Gabriel had his second surgery August 10, 2010. Thinking we’ve been through this before we thought it would be a little less stressful this time. Well guess what? It wasn’t.
As they took our Little Man into surgery our hearts felt so empty. As we waited for Dr. Morell to come out to say things were a success we pace the hospital floors. Finally, the moment came and Dr. Morell told us he was able to do a complete repair (Rastelli procedure). Our hearts wept with joy and peace.
Then they came back in and told us Gabriel was bleeding and losing blood. They would have to take him back in and open up his little chest again. Of course, you could only imagine the pain going through us at this point. But again, Dr. Morell was able to work his heart wonders on our little man and fix the artery under the sternum that was knicked.
Today we are all home. Gabriel is doing super, and again our Mended Little Hearts family was there every step with us through prayers, text messages and support.
I have taken every chance to talk to people at the hospital’s Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) waiting room. I tell them how wonderful my new found Mended Little Hearts Family has been. I’ve talked to nurses in CICU who have never heard about MLH, and I have shared our experience with them. No family with a child with a heart condition that walks through the doors at Pittsburgh Childrens Hospital should ever have to feel alone again. I express that they need to help these families by sharing with them the hope we found with Mended Little Hearts.
I live in Erie and continue to talk to physicians here as well about our new family and have had the opportunity to spread the word here as well. I just hope that when these physicians, medical staff, family or friends see someone or know someone that is going to or is experiencing what any of us have gone through, they will remember Mended Little Hearts.There are people out here who do care, and who know the pain and heartache they are experiencing. And, most importantly, they are not alone.
**Mended Little Hearts, a Mended Hearts program, is a support program for parents of children with heart defects and heart disease, is dedicated to inspiring hope in those who care for the littlest heart patients of all. This story was originally posted on the Mended Little Hearts of Southwestern Pennsylvania‘s website. For more information about Mended Little Hearts go to www.mendedlittlehearts.org.