My daughter, Claire, just celebrated her third Christmas. She runs and plays with her pals at school, dances in front of the mirror daily, and complains when it’s time to wash her hair. Her favorite color is purple, and she insists on wearing skirts or dresses- no pants. She is the quintessential “girly-girl”, all tutus and glitter, and we love every minute with her.
Upon birth, Claire was diagnosed as having a coarctation (narrowing) of the aorta, and she was immediately transferred to CT Children’s Medical Center. On her fifth day of life, just as she began to show outward signs of heart failure, she underwent surgery to repair her heart. The repair was successful, with relatively minor side effects, and currently all that is necessary are annual checkups to ensure that everything is in working order.
As I try to recall that time of our lives, I only remember pieces of things. Faces, not names. Feelings, not events. The moment the cardiologist came into our room a couple of hours after Claire’s birth, it was as though glass had shattered so loudly that it left our ears ringing, and the world around us suddenly became muffled. We felt as though we were in a tunnel and could only keep Claire in our sights. The talented and nurturing staff at CCMC knew exactly what to do, how best to support us, and they literally carried us forward with the most gentle hands. They provided a room, a kitchenette, a washer and dryer so we could be with her. Every morning of her stay, the doctors gathered outside her door to discuss the day’s challenges and goals. We were invited to ask questions, make requests, share concerns- anything we needed. Additionally, they understood that I had just given birth, and also had medical needs. Nurses sought me out regularly, checking on my body, helping with breastfeeding. Always available for this terrified new mom. A seemingly tireless brigade of men and women supporting our entire family.
It’s still a wonder to me, that at the very time we were in need, the staff at CT Children’s Medical Center rose to the occasion, saving the life of our daughter. A terrifying ordeal, made manageable by the extraordinary professionals in this children’s hospital. Every person we came in contact with, in every department, had the same goal- to take care of our family. And they did it with grace and compassion, coaching us every step of the way in order for us to take our baby home. For that, we are forever grateful.