It was last fall that I walked out of a store, pushing my baby in her stroller. She was in her car seat and was covered with a blanket. Another mom walked out at the same time that I did, and her daughter was sitting in the cart, screaming at the top of her lungs.
The frustrated mom looked to me and said, “Just wait. It won’t be long before your baby acts like this,” and then she rolled her eyes.
I smiled at the woman and answered her, “I’ll love every minute of it.”
The mom rolled her eyes again and walked away, pushing her still screaming baby.
If the woman had paused for just a moment, and watched as I took my baby from her stroller, she would have seen this:
My sweet girl, who has a congenital heart defect, was born fighting for her life.
I was just 20 weeks pregnant when they told me that my baby girl might not survive childbirth.
I spent my entire pregnancy praying for my daughter Emily, and hoping that those prayers would be answered.
Three of the first four months of Emily's life were spent in the hospital.
In her first year of life she had four heart surgeries, three of which were open heart, and two non-heart related surgeries.
The first year of my little girl's life was hell, to put it simply.
Today, at nearly 15 months old, Emily is pure joy.
Her fight isn't over.
She will have her next open heart surgery sometime within the next two years...and during that time she will continue to need therapists who will teach her how to walk, how to talk, and even how to eat...because she doesn't eat - not by mouth.
The day my Emily was born I became a heart mom.
And with that title comes sincere gratitude.
Gratitude for things like a baby who cries in the grocery store, because she's alive to cry.
Gratitude for the nights Emily can't sleep, because it means I can cuddle her close.
Gratitude for every achievement: a smile, a laugh, a first word, the first time she crawled ...
Gratitude for each day she's with us, because we really don't know how many we'll get.
The doctor who first diagnosed Emily's heart defect told my husband and me that we should consider terminating the pregnancy.
"There is no way of knowing what kind of life your daughter will have, if she survives at all, and you might want to consider all of your options," she said.
More than anything else?
I'm grateful that my husband and I didn't listen to the doctor, but rather took a blind step into the dark, because with Emily in our lives we will always have light.
You can follow Emily's story at Because Nice Matters
Do you have a story of gratitude to share? Please feel free to share your story in the comments below.
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