On December 9, 2014, Riley had her second open heart surgery. The surgeon told us before surgery that we could expect her to be in the hospital for 7-10 days post-op for recovery, so you can imagine our surprise when they started talking about sending her home on day 4. They decided to keep her for one more night of observation, but we went home on day 5! The doctors and nurses where all very impressed with how well she was doing, and at how strong she is. Especially after she kicked at the doctor and two nurses who were trying to hold her down to remove the breathing tube after the surgery.
It seems like it has been longer, but today we are one month post-op. Riley continues to do very well, and we could not be more proud of our little warrior princess! She plays and gets into everything, she’s fully into the “terrible twos” even though she is not quite 19 months old yet, and she is such a happy girl. She is a little nervous anytime someone comes to the house, and even more so when we take her out of the house. I’ve read that this is a normal reaction, and hopefully should pass soon.
The only problem that we are having at this point is that she is a rough and tumble kind of girl, and we are still under sternal precautions to make sure that her bones knit back together properly. We have to scoop her up rather than picking her up under the arms like you normally would. She wants to climb and swing and wrestle around on the floor, and these are all things that we are not supposed to do for at least another couple of weeks. How do you make a toddler know that playtime has to be different for now? You can’t
We are 5 days away from her turning 19 months old, and in that time she has had 2 open heart surgeries, 3 heart catheterizations, and too many doctor visits to count. We have made a total of 5 trips to Gainesville for her to get the care she needs, It is easy to focus on these parts of life with our CHD baby, but the truth is we don’t.
She is a happy little girl who plays and explores her world fearlessly. We treat her like we would any child her age, because unless there is a problem, that is what she is. Yes, Riley was born with a congenital heart defect. Yes, she will have to have a cardiologist for her whole life. Yes, she will have more surgeries and procedures as she gets older. No, these facts do not define her or who she is.
She is strong. She is a fighter. She is curious. She smart. She is beautiful. She stubborn. She is happy. These things define who she is, and who she will become.