I have now handed over one of my son's for heart surgery five times, and I can say that each time, some things have become harder and some have become easier. I can remember the first time like it was yesterday. Isaac was only 11 days old when he had his first open heart surgery. I can still remember seeing him for the very first time. Nothing could have ever prepared me for what my little 4 pound baby boy would look like. It was so overwhelming. I can still remember seeing his little heart beating under his skin as his sternum was still open. I can remember all of the tubes and wires. I can still hear the sound of the water bubbling in the chest tube drainage canister. It was too much to take in and it made me feel physically sick.
The second time, Isaac was 5 months old. I was definitely a little more prepared. The third time, was with my 7 1/2 year old son, Koah, and I was even more prepared. The fourth time, was Isaac's third open heart surgery. It was one that was extremely risky and was thought that it could likely take his life, but it was also his only chance at life. I can remember us finally being allowed back into the CICU in Boston and seeing him for the first time. We were so relieved once we did. To us, he looked great! The tubes and wires were no longer overwhelming. We were able to look past them and see just how great he looked.
This past Thursday, I handed over my third son for his third open heart surgery. This was his first open heart surgery since we adopted him. I thought that after having done this four times before that it would somehow be easier. Unfortunately, this is the part of the journey that never gets easier. I was able to carry him downstairs in my arms and hold him until the medication that anesthesia gave him took affect. Laying him on the bed and walking away from him was so incredibly difficult. It is always in the back of my mind that this could be the last time I ever see them alive. But I just had to trust that God knows what He is doing and He has it all under control. After all, He loves him even more than I do.
What I wasn't prepared for was how agonizing the waiting would be. It always is, but the waiting has become harder and harder the more that I have had to do it. I think that maybe ignorance is bliss. Sometimes it is easier when you don't really know all that can go wrong. Having lived for almost 15 months in the CICU, I am all too aware of the things that can go wrong. I have seen too many worst case scenarios. It certainly didn't help that Max's surgery took several hours longer than anticipated. At times, the worry was so overwhelming. There were times when I honestly thought that I could never, EVER do this again. But God! He was right there giving me the strength when I thought that I couldn't possibly take it any more.
Finally, more than 10 agonizing hours after handing my baby boy over, we were allowed to see him. And, oh the incredible relief!!!! He looked AMAZING! You may think when looking at his pictures that it must have been hard for me to see him that way. But, honestly, that is the part that has become easier in this process. Each and every time has become tremendously easier and easier. When I saw him, I was overwhelmed with joy and relief. I could see past the tubes and wires and see a little boy who now had a lifetime ahead of him. I could finally dream of watching MY SON grow up. I didn't feel sadness or despair, but instead joy, thankfulness, and hope for the future.
Maybe "I just don't think I could do it", is holding you back. I would have never thought that I could do it either. But you don't have to in your own strength. Yes, the journey is sometimes hard. But, I promise you, it is worth it. I am so thankful that God put us in the right place at the right time. I am so thankful that we put our fears aside and said "YES!". My son, Max, had no hope for a good future where he was. He had no hope of not only a good life, but of a life period. The surgery that he had done this week would have never been done in his country. I am just so overwhelmed with what God has done for Max, and I am so thankful that He has allowed me to be a part of His amazing plan for my son.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.