Almost 14 years ago my son was born with a congenital heart defect. It was the most emotionally wrenching time of my life. Before that, I had been relatively unscathed by shocking deaths. Sure, some of my grandparents had died, I had a few friends who passed away, and I’d lost my best friend, a Doberman Pinscher named Moses who was the wisest canine I’ve ever known . . . .
None of it prepared me for the all-encompassing silence that laid waste to the hospital room when my son was born.
There were no tears. There were no angry baby screams. I don’t know if you can fully understand how disturbing that silence is until you’ve lived through it. A couple of years ago, the fine folks at Matter Press published my piece of flash non-fiction on his birth. You can read it here.
While it’s a good story with an ultimately happy ending and one I’m proud to have written, it is only a taste of what we went through. There was a surgery. There was a hospital stay. There were check-ups . . . there was so much . . . .
Here’s a taste from a few years ago:
It’s a stress test. It’s not his last.
It’s the same thing that mothers, fathers, sons, daughter, brothers, and sisters all over the world go through all of the time. Hell, someone is probably going through some aspect of living with a congenital heart defect right now. What’s worse is that there are babies-more than I’d like to think about-who don’t make it through birth or surgery. Or, they make it through both but then, when they’re older, their hearts just stop.
I write this post not for me or even for my wife and son. I write it for all the mothers and fathers who lose their children because of congenital heart defects. I write it for the children who are gone.
On the plus side, it seems like everyday there is a new development in ways to care for, monitor, and even cure congenital heart defects. For more information, check here.
Look, I know there is a lot to be aware of these days. There’s a lot of shit in the world, always has been. But I’d appreciate it if you took a few moments of your time to look into congenital heart defects, become aware of it as a very real problem, and maybe, just maybe, do something to help out people going through the nightmare of dealing with it . . . even if it’s just bringing them some dinner one night. That helps out way more than you might think.