Friday, February 10, 2012

CHD Awareness Week - Relationships

Each day for CHD Awareness Week I'll be posting about the 7 most important things I've learned as a heart mom.   From practical to spiritual, the past 2 years have been a new experience for me and for us as a family.  My prayer is for these insights to help educate and encourage my fellow heart moms and others who follow our journeys.   

Don't forget to check out this post for a special heart giveaway!
AND another Heart Momma, Joye, also has an awesome giveaway on her blog!

Relationships will change.

I decided to recycle with a few changes, my post from last year’s CHD Awareness week Blog Event that heart momma Stef hosted on her blog about Relationships.  This has been one of my biggest lessons through our journey….seeing relationships change.  Some for the better, some are growing  and some grew stronger.   CHD’s have taught me that even while my clock is standing still, life continues around us and   relationships move on, whether you are in them or not. 

One relationship that grew stronger, deeper and more connected due to Liam’s CHD…my marriage.
For a little background on "us", Dustin and I met during the summer before my Junior year in college.  At a frat party.  Funny because neither of us were greek, but both had mutual friends who were.  God was definitely at work that night.  We got along great and started dating exclusively pretty soon thereafter.  A little less than 5 years later, we were married in March of 2006.  Then a few years later, in September of 2009, we gave birth to our little CHD warrior, Liam.  Little did we know when he was born, how our whole world would change.  But looking back, I know God purposed everything exactly as it was supposed to be, and I am thankful.
Dustin and I in our younger days!
Commitment, love and prayer has remained at the core of our marriage.  Commitment to honoring the vows we made and to standing by eachother.  We made a commitment, not only to eachother, but also to God, who is seated at the top of our love triangle.  Love, God's masterpiece that is the core of our beliefs.  And prayer.  Because prayer is a natural prose of faith and love.

"Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." Ecclesiastes 4:12

Having a child with a CHD, enduring three heart surgeries and facing multiple challenges, to say this put a strain on us is probably an understatement. We have learned more about each other and ourselves in the past year than we have probably the entire time we have been together.  We had to learn how we cope with all the feelings that come with facing trauma...anger, sorrow, anxiety, fear and worry…together.   But Dustin and I both agreed when Liam was born and when we found out about his heart, Liam is ultimately God's child placed in our care.  Thankfully, we both shared the belief that God is in control and no matter what, we could get through this, together.

I think the hardest part for me was learning to navigate through my own needs and feelings, while still being the mom Liam needed me to be and the wife Dustin needed me to be.  I had to learn to be sensitive to how Dustin processed and responded to the daily challenges we faced.  But I definitely think our marriage is stronger because of those challenges.  We just took one day at a time, and eventually made it our new normal.

I have read time and time again that families going through tough experiences, especially something so medically fragile with their child, some friends and family just kinda disappear and aren't there to support the family for one reason or another.  We have been very fortunate to not have very many instances in our life of this happening.  I think the only issue we deal with is having to keep Liam healthy by being selective about where he goes, for germ purposes.  We've missed a lot, especially at our church, because for awhile (and even sometimes now if he has an upcoming procedure) we couldn’t risk Liam getting sick, especially during the winter months.  So, if I had to say our friend and family relationships have changed, it’s more so because we couldn’t physically be a part of it.  Those periods of isolation are probably one of the hardest things about being a heart family.

Our relationships with our families have also grown stronger.  Our extended families have been very supportive and have always been a source for encouragement, mentoring and love.  We have truly been blessed with a wonderfully caring family.

Our friendships continued, but they definitely changed.  It’s hard not being able to spend time with our friends as much as we’d like.  It can also be hard when we know they don’t understand the “why” behind not coming or not being around as much either.   But they have all supported us and loved us, despite not knowing what’s going on all the time.   It has definitely changed my perspective on the friendships I have, and have made me more thankful and grateful for our friends who remain by our side.

And I won’t leave out all the wonderful new relationships I have with people whom I would have never met had Liam not been the little miracle man he is.  Our relationships changed, but we are blessed by it, tremendously.   We had no idea what to expect when we first heard those words..."There's something wrong with your babies heart..."  and as much as I hate CHD's, I can say that we have been truly blessed by its byproduct of developing new friendships and new, stronger bonds.  My blog friends and new heart families I have met are a testament to that.  Thank you all for hanging in there with us on our journey....just know we couldn't have made it this far without ALL of you!!

1 comment :

  1. I really love reading your words, Tara!

    This was a great post. I feel like this is a pretty accurate description of my relationships too. What a blessing that something so difficult can actually bring people closer together. He always knows exactly what we need and who we need. That is awesome. :)