Yeah, I know. You are probably looking at the title of this post and thinking "Is she out of her mind?!?!" Well, yes, but that's beside the point. There really is an upside to being a heart mom. Allow me to explain..
While I would love to have never had the need to even stick my toe over the line into the heart world, here I am. There's no going back from it, so I may as well seek out that ever-elusive silver lining to this cloud, right?
When you become a heart mom, you are thrown into what I like to call a swirling vortex of terror. It's like getting the proverbial rug pulled out from under you, in the middle of a rainstorm, while being struck by lightning. More than once. When you get the chance to breathe again, it's like this sixth sense kicks in that you weren't even aware you had. The need to search out others like you. To find out all that you can about what's wrong with your child, and how you can go about "fixing" it. (And once you've been in the heart world for longer than five minutes, you quickly learn there's no fixing things, just dealing with it.)
If you're lucky, like me, you stumble upon a community of heart moms. It's like they have radar: "There's a new one of us out there, we must go support her!" These heart moms swing into full force. They coordinate meals, bring care packages, send cards, start prayer chains, and swoop in with every bit of advice that they have. They let you cry and whine, play the "why me" game, and then help you to suck it up and move forward. They sit with you while your child is in their umpteenth surgery, even if you don't want to talk at all. They get coffee, hold your hand, and pick you up when you crumple to the floor in fear. And if they can't get you to get up, well then they just plunk right down with you. When you have a long hospital stay, they rally the troops to fundraise for your family, offer to watch your other children, walk your dog, feed your cat. They bring you chapstick, lotion, gas cards and hugs. They flood your Facebook wall with well-wishes, prayers and love.
Even if you've never met these people in person, they become your family. They speak your language-one of caths, ejection fraction, Lasix, chest tubes and Heparin. Talking with them is a relief, because they get it. Without long, drawn-out explanations, they just get it.
The strongest people I have ever known-ever-are the heart moms that have lost their children. Even in the midst of their grief, which will never go away, they celebrate every triumph with you. When your child gets out of the hospital, they are the first to send a text, or drop off a meal. It amazes me. My children are my heroes, but the heart moms I know and love are a close second to that.
No matter the time, the situation, the place, I know that I can count on them. I hope they know that I am more than happy to return the favor.