Gabriel has a congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.  You can read more about his special heart HERE.

I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it a thousand more times in my life, but it's easy for me to forget about Gabriel's heart condition.

He's just this goofy little man that melts me with his super smile.  I dole out medications twice a day to keep his little body moving forward, but other then that he's just so, normal.

But on vacation, I had a reminder that broke this Mama's heart.

We went as a family to climb Papagos.  It's a very gentle climb with trails that are great for kids.  Josie has done it every year since she was two.  It was Gabriel's first attempt.

They were both so excited.

Hand in hand, they started the climb.

We weren't 20 steps up when Gabe started to lag behind Josie.  She tried to wait on him, but the excitement of conquering her mountain was too great and she let go of his hand.

I told Andrew, "It's OK, we'll catch up," and picked my baby up as he struggled to catch his breath.  Heaving deep lungs full of air.

He wanted to walk so bad.

I'd put him down to let him try, but a few steps later he'd reach his fat hands up for me to help him.  His eyes meet mine and I smiled down at him.  "It's OK baby.  We'll go together."

It was hard to watch.  

I wanted to cheer him on.  I wanted him to run and laugh and climb like any other two year old boy.

But he couldn't.

He can't.

I cried that night when Andrew and I talked about it.

How many other things will he want to do that his heart won't let him?  How do we protect him from feeling discouraged, left out, like he's not enough?  I wondered how on Earth we are going to tell him he can't play t-ball.  When Josie goes off to camp and he has to stay behind.

There's a lot of uncertainty surrounding my sweet boy.

But there is one thing I am certain of.

I will cheer and clap and celebrate every physical feat he does accomplish.

I will hold his hand and hold him as he catches his breath.

And I will take the long way with him each and every time.


unclebabyshiggins7 said...

Must be some onions around me cause I got moisture in my eyes :/ I love that little man and as a parent myself I think the individual challenges associated with our children help us grow and be stronger

Alison said...

I ran across your blog randomly, stayed when I read about congenital heart defect.

My little brother (or not so little, he's 21 now) was born with a defective heart valve and had open heart surgery at two days old, he has since had three more.

My parents were told he would never run or walk long distances. He played t-ball for most of elementary school, soccer too. Anything really is possible! For him, he trained like a runner would each day walking to the next house down the street and back.

It's a hard road but anything is possible. My not-so-little brother ran a 5k a few weeks ago! And yes, my mom sent the finish line picture to every cardiologist he has ever seen.

And three months ago he completed a 5k

Kaia said...

Aw, my heart hurts for him, too! He looks so strong in all of the pictures that it's hard to imagine what he's going through. With God anything is possible!

Anonymous said...

I, too, saw "CHD" and stayed to read...

My son has Ebstein's Anomaly and many of the same things you mention are things I have done with him. He can't always keep up, and I am okay with staying behind with him. Some days it weighs heavily on my mind, other days I never even think about it. All the best to you and your beautiful family!