A broken heart – Eli story (part 2)
Updated: Feb 23
(continued from “Becoming a Dad”)
So there we were. A couple of months along into my wife’s pregnancy (mind you this is pregnancy numero uno for our marriage). Also, let me inform you that there is no better relationship testing/trying/building exercise a couple can go through (as if you didn’t know this already). From weird cravings for green beans out of a can to me being “wrong” when I compliment how cute my wife looked on a particular morning, you can say we have never been closer.
All kidding aside, Melanie’s pregnancy went actually pretty well (woot!). She was nauseous here and there, but only threw up once or twice (double woot!). She was healthy/strong, and she never really complained all that much.
But there was one thing that loomed over us for the last 3 months of Melanie’s pregnancy that always kept us up at night…
About 24 weeks into the pregnancy we went in for a usual ultrasound check-up. We had found out the gender of our son a couple of weeks back; but, our son was a bit of a goofball and wouldn’t position himself for the measurements they needed. So here we were again.
Trying to get them measurements…
We started to notice something was “off” when the nurse stopped cheerfully chatting with us. She left the room and came back with one of the doctors. The new doctor took the reins of the ultrasound machine and then moments later said that we would need to do an echocardiogram (doctor speak for an ultrasound of the heart). She mentioned it was only precautionary because she thought the heart looked a little small on one side and that this was only to be thorough.
We could tell she was choosing her words carefully, but didn’t think much of it at the time and set the appointment.
When we went in for the echocardiogram a week or so later, my lovely wife endured two long hours of the nurse prodding her with the ultrasound-like tool into her belly trying to get the right pictures. We were pretty optimistic and we’re excited to see our little boy on the screen again. After a while, the nurse went to grab the doctor…
They both discussed the pictures in hushed tones so we couldn’t hear. Once the nurse and cardiologist were satisfied with the images… we were taken into a separate room.
Now, this was no ordinary room in a doctor’s office. This room had a huge TV, comfy couches, nice lighting, and was lined with tissue boxes and saltwater taffys. Yep, you guessed it. The perfect storm for a sob fest.
Moments later, the doctor came in with a social worker, and BOOM! The bomb was dropped.
“Your son has a congenital heart defect called coarctation of the aorta.”
The thought rushes in, “great. My kid isn’t normal.”
Melanie and I looked at each other and then watched as the doctor explained the details of what should happen when he is born (delivery, surgery, recovery, etc.). We calmly absorbed the information and then I ask in a typical concerned father tone, “Ok… But will he be able to play sports?”
“Yes. If he recovers well from the surgery, he should have a normal life expectancy and should be able to play sports.”
Done deal. That’s all I needed.
The next few months ran long and it seemed like forever with that news on our shoulders. And yes, there were a few nights we were on our knees praying longer than usual. But, we felt confident that we were in good hands. And I was staying happy with visions of my son becoming the next Lionel Messi or Wayne Gretzky.
Yet, nothing could truly prepare us for what would happen next once our son was born…
Author: Andrew McFarlane
Andrew McFarlane is a full-time dad and a parenting blogger. He shares advice for new parents, experienced parents, and any parent in-between at PapaPerspective.com. He does this through positive parenting methods, the best parenting gear, and lots of laughter. When he's not blogging about the best parenting practices, he'll be out taking photos, playing hockey, or spending time with his wife and 2 boys.