Thursday, October 23, 2008

He's Three!

Oooh, I love that kid. Sorry to go all "Isn't my kid so adorable?" on you, but I couldn't resist the opportunity to post some pre-blog-era photos.

After the big party we threw for Nels, we decided to keep Willem's low-key by celebrating in the evening with his grandma, grandpa, and great-grandma. I fixed his favorite food for dinner--shrimp--but I needn't have bothered. Willem's not really into eating dinner these days. He did, however, manage to eat some of the pumpkin cake that he'd requested. Not pumpkin flavored; pumpkin-shaped. We made three small pumpkins by putting together mini bundt cakes and covering them with orange cream cheese frosting. Shaun piped on some jack o'lantern faces. About five bites in, Willem turned to me and said, "Thanks to make me the pumpkin cake, mom."

I have to confess that I was feeling particularly indulgent when shopping for Willem's birthday. I haven't written about it yet, but many of you know that Willem is going to be having heart surgery on November 4. The panel of cardiologists and surgeons who reviewed his case unanimously agreed that the tiny hole in his heart is having a negative impact on the aortic valve and that it needs to be closed up now in order to prevent future multiple valve replacements. They will be closing the hole and also removing a small area of enlarged muscle tissue that is partly obstructing blood flow through the valve.

I am not proud of my reaction to this news. I was pretty upset at first, then felt OK about it for a few weeks. For some reason Willem's birthday really set me off. I know people have heart surgeries all the time, and his is very routine, simple, and low-risk. But I just can't quite wrap my brain around this:

(WARNING:  the following description of open-heart surgery is not for the squeamish)

"The surgical closure of a VSD is carried out through an incision in the middle of the chest. The breast bone is split in the middle and spread apart to expose the heart. A heart-lung machine is used to do the work of the heart while the heart is cooled, stopped, emptied and opened, usually through the right atrium. The hole in the wall between the right and left ventricles is closed by sewing to it a patch of Dacron cloth or a patch of thin leather-like material called pericardium. The heart is then closed and restarted as the heart-lung machine is withdrawn."

It's kind of like how I (along with someone at The Onion) feel about flying. It's a safe, proven technology, and people do it all the time. But when I think about the reality of what's happening--safe or no, it freaks me out.

Don't worry, I'm not a basket case. Just discouraged that after a lifetime of practice, I'm not trusting God as readily as I would hope to. I've had a lot of good examples to follow lately, too. I'll write a more detailed post closer to the day with prayer requests if you are inclined to pray for us. For now, for those of you who enjoy a challenge, we gladly welcome any prayers that the hole would grow closed on its own before surgery. Hey--why not? It's not any crazier than flying high above the earth in a metal tube.


Jana said...

Oh Gypsy, I did not know this. I certainly understand your anxiety, he's your baby!! We will be praying and praying some more. We have a court date in Ethiopia about the same time so I was already going to be in direct communication with God.:) You COULD NOT be in a better geographical location for this surgery. He will do great!! Oh by the way, I was looking at the newborn picture and thought, was that picture pre- or post meningitis? You two have gotten your share of exciting diagnoses, enough already!

Gypmar said...

Thanks, Jana. Wow, the words "a court date in Ethiopia" will spur me to prayer as well :)

That first photo was taken on Halloween-- the meningitis followed a few weeks later on Thanksgiving!

Gretchen said...

Man, of course you are struggling with the thought of your sweet little dimpled boy going under the knife! Thank goodness that the medical profession is skilled and able to fix this glitch in your little guy. We will be praying for him and for you, Shaun and Nels as well.