Beating hearts

When Kyeler was discharged from the NICU, we received a long list of specialist appointments to make for him. One was a cardiology follow up at 3 years old. Kyeler was born with a patent foramen ovale, or PFO, which is really just a fancy way of saying “hole in the heart.” It sounds scary, but his doctors assured us this was very common and that most PFOs resolved within the first few years of life. 

Somehow, my ittty bitty NICU baby is now 3 years old. And so, off to cardiology we went, winding our way through the parking garage and into the maze of the hospital. 

Kyeler did amazing during the appointment, during which he got a scan called an echocardiogram. He cried only once, when we situated him on the table, and then he settled in and calmly watched the Disney show they were playing. (At home, when I asked Kyeler what he thought about the whole experience, he said excitedly, “There was a koala bear on TV!”) CJ was there too, sitting on a chair and throwing back veggie straws like it was an afternoon at the movies.

I, on the other hand, began feeling a sense of panic. When you’ve been in an exam room and heard “no heartbeat” multiple times, you don’t take anything for granted.

Halfway through the echo, even as I watched Kyeler’s beautiful beating heart with my own eyes, I became convinced something was wrong. Images of him laying on an operating table having open heart surgery pushed their way intrusively into my mind. I fought back tears. At the end of the scan I asked the nurse if everything looked okay. All she said was, “We saw everything we needed to see. The doctor will be in soon to explain the findings to you.”

Anxiety wrapped itself around my throat and threatened to take my breath away.

The doctor bustled in a few minutes later, clearly an affable man, and immediately cried, “Spoiler alert! Everything looks great!”

I could have collapsed on the floor in relief right then and there. Kyeler’s heart was healthy. Healthy! 

We left the exam room and made our way down to the ground floor of the hospital, where we stopped by Starbucks for some celebratory treats. I let the boys choose whatever they wanted and, bless them, they chose popcorn and applesauce. Since I was still legitimately sweating from the stress of the appointment, I got an ice cold raspberry drink in the hopes that it would cool me down.

Sweet relief washed over me again and again as I sat in that hospital Starbucks with my two precious children, doing something as mundane yet miraculous as being alive. 

I don’t know why some hearts keep beating and others don’t. What I do know is that every beating heart—whether it’s big or small, whether it beats for a long time or a little—is nothing short of a miracle.

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