Always in My Heart

After a long labor that came perilously close to a desperate, emergency c-section, my perfect little one entered the world.

She had ten fingers, ten toes, and, despite the nurse’s warning that after such an exhausting birth she might not be ready to nurse, a voracious hunger.

They placed her on my chest and she was still the exact temperature of my body. I could feel her need for me surging through her tiny body, along with the beating of her small heart.

She looked exactly how I had imagined her: pink, unblemished skin; smooth, even features; and wise eyes that whispered truths only a newborn can share.

Over the next few hours, as I bonded with my perfect baby, the doctors came to me with forced cheerfulness. A murmur, they explained, but no need to be concerned. Most likely it will be gone tomorrow. Still there, they apologized, but probably just a small hole that will close on its own.

My husband had not yet arrived on leave from Iraq and I turned to my mother, But she looks so perfect, I said. She is perfect, my mom replied.

Of course, my mother is always right.

What follows is, perhaps, a story for another time. The short version involves a long drive to San Antonio on a hot August night and a longer drive back, heavy with a name: Tetralogy of Fallot, in another time or place, a death sentence, but in this country in this era, a cause for great hope. It includes months of struggling to keep a colicky baby calm, battling with pediatricians, and praying for the survival of both of the loves of my life. Drawing to a climax with an open heart operation in her third month of life and denouement of the joyous reunion of our, now whole, little family…with the cliffhanger of a removed valve and a likely future operation.

This week’s Crazy Hip Blog Mamas carnival asks us to share the charitable cause dearest to my heart, a phrase I take quite literally.

Because Baby Diva was born with Tetralogy of Fallot, I first and foremost support the efforts of the American Heart Association. Heart Defects are one of the most common birth defects and are the leading cause of birth defect-related deaths and heart disease is the leading killer of women in the United States. Yet, comparatively little money is put into researching the causes and treatments.

Although it is a much smaller organization, I would be remiss in not telling you a little more about For Hearts and Souls. This non-profit was started by one of the people who literally saved Baby Diva’s life, her cardiologist, Dr. Milhoan, a talented physician and a generous soul. As part of his work with the Air Force, he has screened Iraqi children for congenital heart defects and helped ensure those who would benefit from surgery got this life-saving treatment. He and his wife have started an amazing charity that helps children in communities all over the world. Dr. Milhoan uses his own vacation time to care for children at AIDS orphanages he has established and screens children for heart defects in Mongolia, Kosovo, and Mexico.

Baby Diva donated a portion of her gift money last year to these two charities.

Plain Jane Mom also responded to a Meme about the “Charities that matter to me…” and when I commented, told me to consider myself tagged. She already listed two of my top ones (Make a Wish and Ronald McDonald), which is wonderful because it leaves me free to list more. It is still so hard to choose just five! I cheated a little and blogged about one more charity on Mamanista!

The rules are simple, copy the list of charities and links (grab it from whomever tags you) and add your 5 favorite charities or non-profit organizations to the end (link to their sites with anchor text of the causes they champion). Of course finish things off by tagging 5 other webmasters/bloggers and then publishing the post or the webpage.

So here’s my list of charities:

  1. The American Heart Association: research to understand and heal hearts
  2. For Hearts and Souls: a chance at life for children in impoverished communities
  3. Sew Much Comfort: customized clothing for injured heroes
  4. Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund: provide for the child of a fallen hero
  5. Doctors Without Borders: delivers emergency medical aid to those in direst need

And here’s the original list:

  1. LDS Humanitarian Services – donate to charity
  2. American Red Cross – emergency response
  3. Wasatch Homeless Health Care Incorporated/4th Street Clinic – health care for the homeless
  4. Newborns in Need – knitting for preemies
  5. Habitat for Humanity
  6. American Red Cross – disaster relief
  7. Raleigh Rescue Mission – homeless raleigh
  8. SOS Children’s Villages – sponsor a child
  9. Samaritan’s Purse – emergency relief programs
  10. St. Jude Children’s Hospital – cancer research
  11. The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation – children with AIDS
  12. Make a Wish Foundation – grant a child’s wish
  13. Save the Children – children in poverty
  14. Ronald McDonald House – helping sick children and families
  15. Toys for Tots – toys for all kids

And I tag:

  1. PHAT Mommy
  2. Daddy Forever (I know you are probably Meme’d out, but I though you might want toget tagged on this one)
  3. Momomax
  4. Girl’s Gone Child
  5. Homefront Six
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  1. You made some wonderful choices, and I agree — it is hard to pick just a handful.

  2. Crimson Wife says:

    Wow, what a story! My DH spent 5 years in the military and I can definitely relate to the feeling that crises always seem to wait until he is out of pocket to happen. I’m so glad that everything turned out okay for your family :-)

  3. JamieLee says:

    So glad that things have gone the way they have for you and your family. Amazing story. And wonderful to know that there are so many amazing people out there bringing more happy endings to other families in other parts of the world.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. amygeekgrl says:

    what an amazing story. thank you for sharing it and for raising awareness for these charities.

  5. Your baby does look perfect in the photo. Sad to hear she had open heart surgery at 3 months and needs another one in the future.

    Another meme. I’ll do it, but it will be later in the month. As you probably know, I just finished three memes.

  6. momomax says:

    what a darling photo. you really must be a secret asian soul sistah. baby diva looks so much like max when he was a newborn.

    thanks for your tag. I’ll work on it soon.