Today was Bernadette’s heart checkup. I have been taking her to see the cardiologist frequently over the past 20 months of her life, her first appointment at only a week old. The trips down to the City get old fast. Traffic, the anticipation of the appointment, trying to keep her from crying during the echo and still for the EKG. It’s all too much!
Last night, I went to bed praying for God to calm my anxieties about the morning’s appointment. Sleep seems to be little the night before a visit with the cardiologist and since it had been six months since her last checkup, I think my mind was racing as I tried to come up with every possible outcome of the appointment.
Her previous checkups post-op have all shown stenosis in both valves and mild leakage. There has been minimal changes to the leakage throughout the last year and she has not been symptomatic whatsoever. At the last appointment, her cardiologist made it sound like we would be seeing her every six months for the rest of her life. It was hard news to hear, but slowly I started to come to terms with the fact that I do have a heart warrior and it is far more important to have her heart checked out as often as the cardiologist sees fit than for something to suddenly come up and not be caught in time.
Either way, there is a certain amount of anxiety I experience leading up to the appointments. I’ve heard from other heart moms this is relatively common and the underlying anxiety doesn’t ever fully dissipate.
I was surprised when my alarm starting going off this morning to discover that I had in fact slept the whole night. Unusual for me the night before heading to the City. I rolled out of bed and thanked God for the sleep and set out to get ready to head out the door.
The drive down feels long every single time. The traffic does not help in the least bit and I will often find myself with my stomach in knots heading to the appointment. This morning however, I found myself just ready to go without the usual anxiety pit overtaking me internally.
David pulled into the parking garage with a few minutes to spare as I unloaded Bernadette quickly and headed up. Oddly enough, we weren’t running behind and didn’t have to sprint through parking garage.
Up a few levels, I checked her in and waited for the EKG. It’s been awhile since she had one and I wasn’t sure how she would do with all of the stickers being attached to her. To my pleasant surprise, she sat in my lap quietly as they were being placed.
I thanked God again as soon as I realized the data was collected and the stickers were already coming off. Getting a 20 month old to sit still for just a millisecond, as in the exact millisecond you need her to be still seems like an impossible task. She was up for the challenge though and we walked out of that room quickly to move onto the echo.
The smell of the goop always brings me back to the very first appointment with the cardiologist. My nose got a quick waft of it as the technician spread the goop on Bern’s chest. I immediately flashed back to laying on the table, uncertain of the road ahead. Anxiety pulsing throughout my veins. How different to be there, almost exactly two years later, babe in hand, heart repaired.
I caught a glimpse of Bernadette out of the corner of my eye as I turned my head to look at the screen. How did she get so big? It’s almost as if she grew into a toddler overnight. Much less babyish, especially now that her glittering smile has white teeth peeking through.
I held onto her legs as David held her little arms to keep them still, away from grabbing the wand. I held my breath as the technician moved the wand capturing images. I wanted Bernadette to feel safe but not restrained. I was praying God would bring a sense of calm over her as well.
Before we knew it, the echo was done and it was time to meet with the cardiologist. I couldn’t believe what a great job she did. The few moments she squirmed, she quickly calmed. What a relief!
Walking into the room to wait for the cardiologist is also when my stomach usually starts churning out of fear of what she will say. But today was different. I recalled my prayer last night, relishing in the fact that God really is sovereign. He has plans far above and beyond my own thinking or control. Whatever was about to happen would happen and I, no matter what, would still put my trust in God.
The cardiologist joined us, briefly listening to her heart and checking her pulses. She then went on to say how things were looking good and her heart was stable. In light of this, we could go a whole year without coming into the clinic.
I almost fell over when I heard her say that. Unbelievable! The leakage in her valves had remained the same, so she was comfortable with letting us go for that long. I’ll have a phone appointment with her six months to check in, but for now, a year in between clinic visits. Something I never thought would happen.
We headed back to the car and I felt so giddy with excitement. What a reason to celebrate. Our sweet little girl, she is doing so well.