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Choosing to Love Someone You Might Lose Isn’t Easy

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It’s a frightening thing, loving someone you could lose.

When I first heard the diagnosis I sat in my hospital bed, the same bed in which he was delivered only hours before. A doctor from a hospital half an hour away called for me, and as he spoke over the crackled line I scrawled the words “total anomalous pulmonary venous return” on a hospital room service menu.

After a textbook delivery, my baby was whisked away as a team worked for hours to stabilize him before and rushing him off to another hospital. I was told to say my goodbyes as his incubator was pushed to the ambulance. He would be Life-Flighted for an emergency open heart surgery just hours later. I was told they would try everything they could, but his condition was severe.

Within hours, every dream and every plan I had made up to that point lay in ruins around me. Part of me felt a very visceral reaction, like I wanted to stand up and scream out, “Somebody save my baby!”

The other part of me, well, just felt numb.

Fast forward to later. He made it through his surgery, but the surgeon was not hopeful he would recover. I stood in the dark and quiet that night, after heading back to my sleep room. I was faced with a choice. Should I distance myself from him and protect my own heart? Or should I ensure that no matter how long his life, he would never, ever be lacking for love?

I chose the latter. I couldn’t not chose it.

And I got to give him that love for nearly seven months. And now, even though he’s no longer here, I continue to give it to him every day.

I learned when we choose to love these children with fragile bodies, it’s always worth it.

We learn to take the next step by their side, promising loyalty and love to them no matter where the path may lead. We spend sleepless nights curled up in plastic hospital recliners, monitors beeping, and adrenaline pumping so that we are ready to jump up at a moment’s notice. We run on will power, faith, and a touch of insanity as we fight for their lives, as we advocate and as we learn them like the back of our hand.

We live for their smiles, their snuggles, even just a glance of their eyes our way, something that will tell us they know — they know they are loved, and they know to whom they belong. We lay our hearts and our lives down in the name of sacrificing it all for them, and we carry them for as long as we are able, whether we are blessed with decades or whether we never hold them with breath in their lungs.

And they deserve every single ounce of strength, of love, of faith, of hope, of fight that we pour out. They deserve all of our heart, because these perfect, special, fragile children give us nothing less than everything they have.

It’s a painful thing losing someone you love. It wrecks you at your very core. It shatters you, as they take a piece of your heart with them as they go. It is earth-shaking and dream-crushing and horrible in every way imaginable.

But it is worth every single second. Every beat of their heart, every whispered prayer, every ounce of love given, every time you held their hand, every tear shed, every smile, every kiss, every lullaby and every single time they looked at you with soulful eyes, and told you in their own way, “I love you, too.” They are worth it all.

Take it from me.

Choose the harder path. Love until you feel like your heart has given all it has, and then give a little more.

It’s a frightening thing, loving someone you could lose, but it will always be worth it. Our children are always worth it.

A version of this originally appeared on Scribbles and Crumbs

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Originally published: April 21, 2015
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