Wednesday, December 8, 2010

365 Days Ago

December 9th is our anniversary - the anniversary of the day we learned of Zoe's congenital heart defect. How ignorant was I, just 365 days ago?

Caleb and I walked into the Fetal Women's Center in Scottsdale, Arizona for a Level 2 ultrasound. I remember thinking, 'how great is medical technology these days that we can, at 19 weeks, be given the sex of our baby with 95% accuracy?' As the ultrasound tech took her sweet time, I grew impatient to find out if we were having a boy or girl. I was certain it was a boy. When she asked if we had a girl or boy already at home, I told her we had a girl. She said, "Well, she is going to have a little sister." Shocked, me.

How ignorant was I, just 365 days ago?

The shock I felt in that moment cannot even compare to what I would learn in the next hour. Even when the ultrasound tech told us that she was "going to spend some time taking pictures of the heart," I did not realize the blow we were about to endure. Only when she left to get the doctor, and I saw the look on his face as he entered the room, did my heart sink. Only to sink even further when hearing his first words. "I have some bad news for you today." As I type these words, the actual scene of that moment re-plays in my mind, as if I was a film director and I could say "cut" and change the events that occurred next.

It was then, at 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon, 365 days ago, that we first heard, "there is something wrong with the baby's heart." Laying on the ultrasound table, I turned my head towards Caleb, with gross fear in my eyes. I grabbed his hand and in the blink of an eye, my world stopped turning.

The next scene I recall is Caleb and I walking down a hallway in complete silence. We were in shock. We were ushered into a consultation room to speak with the doctor, in more detail, about our daughter's defective heart. My mind was racing. What did I do? How could this happen? Am I going to lose my baby girl? We waited for what seemed like forever until the doctor walked in. He had a large medical textbook to explain what our daughter's heart looked like and how it was defective. He also talked about our options. The two options I heard, in a nutshell, were life or death.

Unfortunately, we'd drove to the appointment in separate cars, after work. Now, we both had to drive home, in a daze, weighed down with this knowledge. I called my parents who were at home watching Emerson. My dad answered the phone. All I could say was, "we got bad news," then I burst into tears. The remainder of the drive, I sat behind the wheel, in auto-pilot. The evening of December 9, 2009 is a complete blur.

The next morning, we had our first of countless fetal echocardiograms and met with Dr. John Stock. Dr. Stock reiterated our options, with cautious optimism for cardiac reconstruction. No parent should have to make the list I had to prepare in early December, 2009 - a pros and cons list to help us decide whether to terminate our pregnancy or fight (and suffer) for, and with, our little girl.

Even while discussing the list, we reached the same decision, in our hearts. From that moment on, Caleb and I chose life. At that point in our marriage, we'd done a lot of fighting (literally and figureatively) and we always came out on top. If we had the chance to fight, we knew we could and would give it our all.

And the whirlwind began...

To say that a lot has happened in the last 365 would be a gross understatement. So much has changed.

365 days ago, we began this battle. For 153 days, I fought for Zoe; For 211 days, I've fought with Zoe. I imagine the days ahead, in my mind, and HOPE for countless days that she will be here with me, fighting. I imagine, the movie in my mind, a strong, courageous and beautiful little girl raising awareness for her defect; fighting not only for herself, but for the countless babies to come who will face this same battle. Someday, I imagine, medicine will evolve with awareness and research and we'll no longer have to fight this battle. No more mothers will have to make the choice of life or death when it comes to severe congenital heart defects.

Tonight, the evening before my life came to an abrupt halt 365 days ago, I rocked my baby girl to sleep, reconstructed heart and all. As I rocked her and thought about December 9, 2009, Zoe reached up and gently placed her hand on my cheek. Her gentle touch brought me to tears. I'd like to think she was thanking me for giving her the opportunity to fight. I kissed her forehead in return as she fell asleep, thanking her for the countless and undescribeable ways her life has touched mine.

From this moment, 365 days ago

to today, December 9, 2010, and always...

Thank you, Zoe Madison.


  1. Oh Stacey I am crying tears of joy for you. Only someone that has been laying on that table like you were a year ago can truly feel your pain. Sadly I know that feeling. I am so glad that you have a happy ending to your story and I will pray Zoe gives you another 365 days of joy! I hope that Aug 12 2012 I am able to write a similar post. Big heart hugs to you

  2. Oops 2011 not 12 but u get the point. Much love

  3. Stacey,
    You definitely never forget the day that your child was diagnosed. It is something that I think is forever engraved into your brain. You remember every detail, feeling and thought.

    Beautiful job retelling that day. What a miracle Zoe is!!

  4. Beautifully put. I remember our diagnosis like it was yesterday.I remember the feeling of shock as we found out. We too were in seperate cars on the way home and I remember looking over at Andy and seeing the tears in his eyes. I also cried the whole way home. I don't think those memories will ever go away.

    I LOVE that picture of Zoe! Such a beautiful little miracle.

  5. Wow. You are such a great writer Stacey. That is one moment in time that I can think back about and still get remember that awful awful feeling when you are hearing those words for the first time. I wish someone could have said and known for a FACT how well our girls would be doing one year later. Thanks for sharing your story. Zoe is absolutely beautiful. :)

  6. Very beautifully and well written. Thank you for sharing with us. I know that day is forever etched in my mind and heart as well. Your baby is precious and beautiful and lucky to have a mommy and daddy that chose to give her a chance to love and be loved ... a beautiful chance at life.

  7. i hope you don't mind me leaving a comment on your blog. i was blog hopping and came across this post literally brought me to tears! this was written perfectly! i went through the EXACT same thing at the exact same time as you. and now we both have two happy beautiful baby girls. :) what little miracles we have!

  8. Awesome post! We felt the same way, but it was three years ago. The emotions come flooding back and I'm so thankful for that constant reminder. :)

  9. What a great post. Zoe is so cute. Glad you made the decision you did. What a great CHRISTmas this will be this year with her in your life. Becky Goodman, Milton, WV

  10. I love this post! People always tell us that our kiddos are amazing, and they are, no doubt, but YOU are just as amazing!