You Just Don't Know

Congenital Heart Awareness Week
February 7th - 14th
2014
Picture of Kalvin at 6 months old taken by our very talented friend, Pam Trudel.

I still remember, as if it were yesterday, meeting the surgeon the night before Kalvin’s open heart surgery.  Kalvin was four days old.  I looked up at Dr. Pigula and asked the question I was so hoping he would shrug off, “What part of Kalvin’s surgery do you think will be the most challenging?”

But instead he looked directly into my eyes and humbly replied, “It is just a lot to do at once.”

I swallowed hard.
 
I had another request for the doctor.  I took a deep breath and asked, "May I see your hands? I held my hands out to him. He set his hand in mine. I squeezed it ever so gently.
 
I wanted to feel the hands that would determine my future. I wanted to get to know these hands. As I held them, I prayed that they would work their magic.  That they would be able to save my baby and my family. 

Kalvin was diagnosed at my regular twenty week ultra sound with one critical congenital heart defect (CCHD)-Transposition of the great arteries and three secondary- coarctation of the aorta, pulmonary stenosis and a ventricular septal defect.
 
There are no known CHDs in our family history.  I was taking pre-natal vitamins loaded with folic acid a full year before Kalvin was even conceived.  I did all the things I was “suppose to do” to assure a healthy baby.  I avoided all the things I was told to avoid to deliver a healthy baby.  Friends, you just don’t know.  There are no guarantees.

Those hands were able to work their magic.  They repaired my baby's heart.  There is no cure, but thankfully there are repairs. My baby is now eight years old. He is thriving. But not all babies do. There are far too many who have lost their battle.  And while Kalvin continues to thrive today, we just don't know about tomorrow.

This week is all about spreading awareness.  Spreading awareness to try and save lives and families.

Friends, please don’t be fooled. 

Don’t think just because you haven’t been affected by CHDs yet,  that you won’t. 
 
Many don't realize that CHDs can strike anyone's baby.  It may be your next child or your grandchild. Your niece or nephew.  Your neighbor or your best friend.  CHDs don’t discriminate. Yes, the odds are higher for families with a history of CHDs, but not much higher.
 
No one ever thinks it will happen to them until it does.
 
Please help spread the word.  Tell your pregnant friends and family members to be sure to ask their doctor for a pulse ox screening for their baby before they leave the hospital. 

Know the warning signs.  You don’t want to become one of the heartbreaking stories I have heard.  The stories of the babies who came home undiagnosed.  Crushing stories of beautiful healthy looking babies who passed away suddenly in their mother’s arms without any warning signs. 

Passed away from the same CCHD Kalvin was born with.

If only there was pulse ox screening a few years ago.  Then maybe, just maybe, sweet momma Kristine would have learned about CCHDs from her doctor instead of from the coroner.  Maybe baby Cora would be here today.  It breaks my heart to even think about it.

Please, spread the word. 

Learn the warning signs.




To learn more about beautiful baby Cora and all that her momma, Kristine, is doing to bring awareness to the world visit www.corasstory.com.
 

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