Busted Out

It's hard to believe we were only here for 14 days.

Time works different in a hospital.  You measure hours by when meds are handed out, days by how many clean underwear are left.  By Tuesday I had no idea what day it was.  I asked at least 3 times throughout the day, certain that 24 hours had passed, wondering when that nurse would leave.  We ate at weird times, went to bed at weird times, woke up at ungodly hours for needle pricks and X-rays.

It feels like we were inside those walls for years.

As glad as I am to be headed home, CHOA wasn't the worst place to spend a couple weeks.

I learned a lot.

About Gabe, about Andrew, about myself.  I'm walking out with a few new vocabulary words.  I loved my family the day we walked in those doors, but I'm walking out with a different level of love.  Our bodies are a miracle, finding each other was a miracle, Gabe's heart, while broken, is a miracle.

I realized the importance of smiling at strangers, bending down low to make jokes with a sad little kid.  I felt the embarrassment of having your kid puke in the middle of a gift shop and quickly learned it's stupid to be embarrassed by that.

I learned that, sometimes, grown men with lame jokes and .50 cent bubbles can turn a little boy's rough day into something a little special.

Andrew and I want to take this new knowledge and pay it forward.  We have dreamed and schemed ways that we can be involved in helping other families through these difficult hospital stays.

In a weird way, I'll miss it here.

I won't miss the pokes and prodes or sleeping on cots like that made us feel like permanent campers, but I will miss the hourless days with Gabe.  Nowhere to be, nothing that has to get done.  Andrew and I realized that this is the only time that Gabe has had us to himself for more than a few hours.  It was fun to listen to him and really hear him.

I'll miss the nurses that weaseled their ways into Gabe's heart and mine.  Sure at first I thought they were too gentle, too harsh, too soft, too cold.  But days wore on and I came to appreciate the way each of them cared for my boy.

I will forever be thankful for the Cardiac Unit at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

They saved my son.  Really, saved his life.  How do you ever repay that?  He gets to do things that he's never been able to do before.  Run, play sports, jump on a trampoline for more then 3 minutes.

This week wasn't easy, but it changed us forever.

And that is something I wouldn't trade for anything.

Today they handed us discharge papers.

We signed on the lines, packed up an absurd amount of things, and hugged our nurses goodbye.  We walked down the halls with Gabe leading the way, exactly how we walked in 14 days ago.

Only this time, our son didn't get winded.  He didn't turn blue or reach up to be carried halfway down the hall.  His heart is working.

It's working!

And with that, we are busting out of here and headed home.

With my super hero son and his amazing half a heart.

We accumulated a lot of stuff in 2 weeks!

Cathy was Gabe's favorite nurse.  Which made her my favorite too.  She played football with him and tickled him and talked us through countless near breakdowns.  I will forever be thankful for her.

Josie blew past me to squeeze Gabe.  And I realized how awesome siblings are.

My people.  Together!!!


Hannah Chandler. said...

What the what!! Cathy! I went to college with her. She's a gem, I tell ya! So very happy you guys are home!

houseof Kent said...

crying! crying! this post is by far my favorite! your insight as a mother - is PRICELESS!

houseof Kent said...

crying! crying! this post is by far my favorite! your insight as a mother - is PRICELESS!

Miamihoney said...

in tears, so happy for you.

Kaia said...

So, so thankful! LOVE that last picture!!

Sweet Tea said...

So happy for your family!
God has answered your prayers!

twinkietotmom said...

So so happy for you! This looks like an amazing hospital. You can see it in all of your pictures, them trying to life you & Gabe up. Makes me feel for all those parents & kids out there who endure this stuff day in & day out! Squeezing my kids a little tigther because we are all together & healthy. & go Gabe!

Mary A. said...

So, so happy for you all today! :)

Michele said...

I was doing ok until the picture of Josie and Gabe- then I lost it too! So glad you all are together- enjoy every minute. Onward to new, even better times! Hugs. You did it, Nicole! Proud of you!

Anonymous said...

Such a beautiful realization :) So glad you guys are all home-together and healthy ♥
Amy K

Butterfly Wishes Wonderland Dreams said...

Your family has just brought a giant lump to my throat! Your are awesome, amazing! Gabe is amazing little fighter that that has a million dollar smile!

HUGS you to you all! If you think of ways to help families in hospitals I'd love to read about them. We have a wonderful top notch children's hospital here and I'd love to help them out.

ENJOY your family this weekend and Josie and Gabe's picture and your family pictures in the end are adorable you need to enlarge them and hang them on the wall!

Carrie Corrigan said...

This made me cry. So happy for you & your beautiful family!

Discovering Montessori said...

The power of God's work is always awesome! Thank you for the update! So happy for ya'll!!

Milk and Honey Mommy said...


I'm glad that your family is headed home together. The picture of Gabe and Josie hugging is definitely precious.

Traci Hutton said...

I'm in tears...you have an awesome family! God bless!

Toni Slessinger said...

Yay!! I've been a long time reader, and Gabe, and your entire family, have been in my prayers, especially during this ordeal! Thank you for being so honest and open with his situation. I've cried with every post these last couple of weeks. Enjoy being back at home!!

Anonymous said...

Best. Post. Ever. Family is everything. Many blessings to you all. Melissa

Carol L said...

Cathy is my daughter and she is paying a huge debt for our family...we were in your shoes once in the Aflac center. Yours is an amazing story. Thank you for sharing.