Heart Month - Day 9 (Surgery) -- Nolan's surgery day was hands down the scariest day of my entire life.
Here is a glimpse into the timeline of that day... November 15, 2018.
The day was here. A day we had anticipated for 6-months. Nolan's heart needed to be repaired. It would require open-heart surgery, a 6-hour operation, & weeks of recovery.
6:47 am. -- We handed our 6-month old to a group of strangers & stood alone in a pre-surgery room of CHOA. We stood silent, almost frozen, crying, & gasping for a breath that would snap us out of the reality we were currently facing.
We collected ourselves & our things, & we walked slowly into the main waiting room filled with people & sat down. These strangers had no idea what we had just gone through, but they were there to do the same, so there was a familiar tone & looks of support.
7:52 am. -- An hour into surgery, we got a call from the OR, "Nolan is successfully on heart & lung bypass". The translation, "Your child's life is currently depending on equipment".
12:14 pm -- We got the call that his heart was beating again. They were finishing up.
1:08 pm -- We met with his surgeon, who told us Nolan's heart was enlarged & heart function was down. We would need to monitor his heart to see if his function improved. His heart did not like being stopped.
2:27 pm. -- We saw our son for the first time post-surgery. He was pink & his heart rate & respiratory rates were normal for the first time in his life. I remember counting his breaths because it didn't seem like enough.
3:04 pm. -- Nolan pushed out his breathing tube & was not ready to breathe on his own. The next 40 minutes were the most terrifying of my life. People started running & alarms were sounding. Within seconds they were bag breathing for him like something from a movie. Watching countless nurses & doctors work on him to replace his tube is something we will never forget. And even now, hearing the beeps & alarms can send us into a panic.
On this day, November 15, 2028, Nolan was given life.
The days & weeks post-surgery are a blur. We thought surgery was the finish line, but it was really a start. A start of heart failure appointments, a start of life-long medications, the start of scoliosis, the start of recovery, the start of so many things that were didn't expect.
But it was also the start of hope. The start of healing. The start of learning what truly matters. The start of extreme gratitude. And in many ways, the start of Nolan's life. Up until surgery day, we were doing everything we could to get him to this point; he needed this life-saving operation.
While Nolan's story is far from over, we know that he can do anything. He has beaten the odds & proved doctors wrong more times than we could count. He is funny & kind & has the most infectious laugh.
We are forever grateful & forever changed.