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Friday, April 19, 2013

Dear Isabelle

Dear Isabelle,

One year ago today, you had open heart surgery.  You were seven months and ten days old and weighed in at exactly fourteen pounds, not quite double your birth weight yet.  You could not stand or sit up or crawl.  You had stopped rolling over and stopped doing your army crawl.  You were just too tired from congestive heart failure.  And yet you were a spunky little thing :)  You had sass and made it known!  You loved to cuddle and nurse and watch everyone and everything.  You were teething (but had no teeth yet) and loved to chew on anything you could get into your mouth!

We woke up very very early on the morning of April 19, 2012.  In fact, I can go look at my phone right now and the alarms are still set:  at 1:35 am I woke you up to nurse one last time before you had to fast for surgery, at 3:45 am we woke up to get ready to go to the Children's Hospital, at 6:00 am you had to report to pre-op.  You slept the whole way there but once we were at the hospital, you were wide awake and so interested in everything going on.  You moved from my lap to Daddy's and back to mine again, trying to see everything.

You loved it whenever someone came in our room to say hi.  You liked all the attention they were giving you :)  You even changed into your little yellow gown without too much fuss.  And when a nurse gave you a pacifier, you thought it was the best chew toy ever :p 

The anesthesiologist came to see us and spent almost an hour with us, just talking.  I wish I remembered her name but things were such a blur at times that day.  But the anesthesiologist got to know you, and us, and we got to know her and it made it easier to hand you over.  You weren't going with a bunch of strangers, you were going with your new friend and you smiled up at her as she took you through the double doors.  It would be many hours before I saw you again and the next day before you were awake enough to really know I was by your side.  When you are ready, if you want to, I have some pictures of you after surgery.  You were so still and small and silent and all the machines and wires and tubes and medicines were a little scary but you needed them and they helped you get better.  But today, one year later, they are still too much and so they remain tucked away, waiting, until you are ready for them.

What a difference a year makes!  Today, you are fearless.  You walk and run and climb and throw tantrums and hug and kiss and love life every single moment.  You show off your scars and eat more than your older brother.  You love to look at books and be read to.  You love to build towers with your toddler Legos
 but you are quick to let us know when you are mad they won't go together.  You have gotten so many bruises and bumps and scrapes because you are willing to try anything, including jumping off of things :p  You play hard, you love so big, and you can't wait for your next adventure.

Your brother S told me that a surgery anniversary is a much bigger deal than a birthday so we had a party today to celebrate :)  It wasn't big, just us and Grandma and Grandpa but you were just happy they were here and were so ready for the extra attention!  You ran around laughing and jumping and smiling :) When you noticed the camera, you stopped to give me your "cheese" grin, which is oh-so-adorable and shows off your teeth ;)

Your brothers had a lot of fun decorating for you and picking out little presents (a grasshopper gardening set was the biggest hit).  S chose a balloon theme and now, hours later, they are balloons roaming around the house, being blown here and there by the heater vents--we had some snow this evening so the heat is a must tonight! 

We ate some of your favorite things--pasta salad, broccoli salad, loaded potato cubes, and marinated steak.  You couldn't decide what to eat first :) 

We got you a cake from Monica's and they did such a nice job.  You had a heart shaped cake with a little heart "patch" sewn on, just as you have a patch sewn onto your heart :)  When you saw it, your eyes got big and round and you were ready to dive in and eat!

Once you got your first piece, you wasted no time in digging in--and let it be known you were so so happy to be eating CAKE!! :) 

You didn't want a single drop of that cake to go to waste!

When you had cleaned your plate, you held it out and demanded "MORE".  Of course we gave it to you and you polished off a second small slice :)  You asked for a third and we compromised by hustling you off to the bath while the last piece was put away in the fridge for you to eat tomorrow.

You are asleep now, sweet girl, and I can hear you breathe in the next room.  You are almost double the size you were this time last year and you are so active and happy and loving.  Sure, you have your moments of frustration and anger and sadness, just as all toddlers do, but we are so overjoyed to get to share those moments with you that they don't seem so bad.  I can't wait to see what you will be up to on this day next year.

With so much love,