Sick Kids Hospital recently released its 2017 Mothers Day tribute: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvNF0yFUcx0. It’s powerful. Watching it brought back such deep-seated memories for me of my two years in hospital with my daughter.
Mother’s Day reminds me of a time a few years ago when I was driving and traffic had suddenly stopped on an overpass. To my surprise, a mother duck was trying to cross 6 lanes of traffic with her ducklings in rush hour traffic. I could barely look, being so fearful of what was going to happen. That mother duck held her head up high and crossed traffic safely with her babies. She was confident and showed no fear, although I am sure she was scared to death! I know we have all had moments like this with our children. Mine came just shortly after Treva was born.
Imagine on day 2 after your second child’s birth, you receive a picture from a pediatric cardiologist. It’s a picture of your daughter’s heart – showing that it is basically arranged very differently compared to a normal heart! Most parents are home by this time, but not me. I am trying to absorb the picture and plan for our daughter’s open heart surgery.
I remember asking if I could add this picture to her baby time capsule. Moments later I sank into a deep reality that this life was going to be different than the one I had planned. My Type A and OCD-like personality were no longer needed. That night I drove home, two days after a C-section (at the dismay of my mom and friends) and arranged to make the move to Sick Kids in Toronto.
As I stood by my daughter’s bed on her 15th day of being alive, I held my husband’s hand. Treva’s chest was still open and only covered with transparent plastic because she was too swollen from the surgery. My husband and I looked at each other and asked to see her heart which was under a cloth sign that said, “chest open”. My vision of motherhood did not include seeing my daughter’s heart beating in her tiny chest. In reality, my vision of motherhood was unraveling very quickly and so were my life plans.
Along the journey, Treva has had 1,500 needles, 400 tests, 32 blood transfusions, several diagnoses including the possibility of not talking, walking or surviving. Due to these challenges, I longed for the motherhood that I had with my first born or the one you see on the Disney channel. In fact, there were times early on this journey where I looked ahead and wished that this was all just a bad dream and I really prayed for things to be different even if that meant Treva was no longer with us.
At the end of the day, we are all doing the best we can even though it may not always appear that way. I am still waiting for the manual on both of my children. Your journey does not need to be like mine to know worry, fear or doubt – it is just part of the job description for many moms.
So often after a presentation women will come up to me and say, “I felt just like you” or “I can relate to your moments as a mother, but I was too scared to say anything”. We need to open the doors as women and allow for honest conversations to happen so we can support one another. We cannot do this alone and, why should we?
We need to not be so hard on ourselves (trust me, I’m still working on this one). We need to celebrate each other. We need to celebrate ourselves.
I have never met one mother who had not sacrificed something for their children. In many ways, we are similar to the Mother duck. We often look calm and cool on top of the water, yet we are paddling like hell underneath to get things done. Proudly holding our heads high, we will cross any road, any day to make sure our children get to the other side safely.
P.S. You are all Phenomenal women!
*For those interested in learning more about DiGeorge Syndrome and Treva’s surgery journey, you can read this Hamilton Spectator article from 2005: “Home for Christmas“