Menu

This is what it's like to be a parent with a severe heart condition

Despite feeling blessed with my son, I was extremely weak and was not recovering, even after several weeks had passed. I made an appointment with a cardiologist who immediately sent me to the hospital, where I was admitted for advanced heart failure and wouldn't leave for two months.

This is what it's like to be a parent with a severe heart condition

On a recent trip to the Grand Canyon with my husband and son, I looked out over the landscape at the sheer size of one of the seven natural wonders of the world. In front of me was a vast canyon formed millions of years ago when the Colorado River carved through layers of volcanic rock and sediment to create this beautiful vista. I marveled at how water could form something so stunning.

Thinking about that great natural power reminded me of motherhood: how, as mothers, we possess an innate drive to go to the ends of the earth for our children. For me, this included navigating the perils of a failing heart.

My motherhood journey can best be described as unexpected. Years before I welcomed my son, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of cancer that impacts more than 74,000 people every year. Thankfully I received treatment and the cancer went away; however, the chemotherapy weakened my heart to the point that I was experiencing the early stages of heart failure. While I took medication to mitigate the symptoms, my condition was progressing further and further into heart failure.

Not long after, I began to feel very sick and was worried my cancer had returned, but shockingly, it turned out I was pregnant. I was stunned at this development, as I had believed my cancer treatment would make it impossible for me to get pregnant, but I enjoyed a happily uneventful pregnancy and gave birth to a healthy baby boy.

This new phase of motherhood was interrupted when my health issues returned shortly after my pregnancy. Despite feeling blessed with my son, I was extremely weak and was not recovering, even after several weeks had passed. I made an appointment with a cardiologist who immediately sent me to the hospital, where I was admitted for advanced heart failure and wouldn't leave for two months. I knew I was facing a long road to recovery.

Being a parent with a severe heart condition was a painful reality to accept. My heart was no longer strong enough to pump blood on its own. I had already been away from my son for several months and was continuing to get weaker. My thoughts were not just about me, but about this young life I had brought into the world just a few months before. I worried about missing precious moments in his life. Even as I tried to stay positive, my mind was focused on all the things I wouldn't be able to do with my son as he grew up.

My cardiologist and I knew we had to act fast. I received an Abbott heart pump to support my heart by circulating blood throughout my body. Recovery from this procedure was tough, but I gradually started gaining my strength back. Those first few months were difficult, but there came a moment that changed my perspective. I still think about it to this day.

When my husband visited me in the hospital during my recovery, I noticed our son—then 10 months old—standing up to take his first steps, one of those milestones I was afraid of missing. At that moment, I felt something shift inside me. We became even more connected, not just as mother and son, but as two people determined to develop the skills we need for life. I realized that we were learning to walk together and that I could find the strength to pull myself up and move forward again.

For every step on my road to recovery, my son has been there beside me. For example, the battery for my heart pump needs to be changed daily. As a young boy, he would hear the noise signaling that it was time to change, then run and get the battery from the charger for me.

Today, as a 12-year-old, he knows even more about my device and helps me change the dressings at the site of the wires. I hope that this experience has taught him perseverance in the face of adversity, and to understand that people may be dealing with challenges that others can't always see.

Just as the Colorado River shaped the Grand Canyon, heart failure has shaped my life, but I refuse to let my diagnosis keep me from living the life I want to live or being there for my son. I was there when he learned how to walk, when he learned how to ride a bike and when he had his first day of school. I'm planning to be there when he stars in his first school play, when he goes to prom and when he graduates from high school.

It's been a long road, but I've learned to greet the ups, downs and challenges of each new day knowing that nothing—not even a diagnosis like heart failure—will keep this mother from moving forward.

We're so glad to live in a time when modern baby gear exists. Sure, no one is going to argue that having a baby is easy—but it can be easier with support from some gadgets designed to help your baby and put your mind at ease.

As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!


A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

HALO Innovations Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essenta Series Nautical Net

The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. Thanks to the swivel function of the Halo Bassinest, you can easily tend to your baby during the night—which means more sleep for you, too. Trust us when we say that is the best gift you can give a new parent.

$239.99

A smart swing for your baby

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.

$219.99

A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

No matter where the day takes you—or what mode of transportation you need to get there—getting a complete travel system for your baby will equip you for anything.

$379.99

A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.

$29.99

A nursery wherever you need it

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.

$99.99

A little help for stuffy noses

Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.

$15.99

A way to keep an eye on your baby

VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.

$79.99

A bassinet for hands-free rocking

Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.

$99.99

An easy way to contain diaper smells

Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

Sometimes it's the little conveniences that make a big difference in the quality of your day-to-day life. That's why a great diaper pail should not be undervalued: By containing the smell, you will save yourself dozens upon dozens of trips to the garbage can.

$24.99

A white noise machine that pulls double duty

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.

$59.99

And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

These kids dishes don’t look like kids dishes

And that's exactly why my toddler loves them. ❤️

My 4.5-year-old is, let's say, spirited in his opinions. He very clearly knows what he wants and doesn't want (oh to have the confidence of a stubborn preschooler!). And what he doesn't want right now is anything that looks too babyish. "That's for babies," he'll say if I give him anything with primary colors or looks too miniature. He doesn't want the baby fork and spoon, he wants what grown-ups use. He doesn't want the baby plastic cups and plates, he wants the glass and ceramic ones.

Well, you can see where this is going.

I had to find something that would satisfy his "not a baby" opinions but still not shatter to pieces if he accidentally drops it on the floor. I had to find him something that's made for kids but doesn't feel made for kids.

Keep reading Show less
Shop

20 baby names that mean miracle—and will never go out of style

In these extraordinary times, we could all use some small miracles.

Meaningful baby names will never go out of style. Whether you decide to name your newborn after a beloved family member, or are simply searching for a name that reflects the journey that led you to parenthood, whatever you choose will stick with you for the rest of your—and your child's—life.

Almost every parent, at some point, refers to their child as a "miracle," though the meaning of the word itself might differ depending on who you're talking to. Miracle is a beautiful word that can double as a name, but there are many other thoughtful baby names to choose from if you're considering giving your baby a name that suggests an extraordinary event, a gift from above or a rare wonder.

Whether you're looking for a familiar name with a miraculous history, such as Aaron, or you're searching for a unique name that means "rare miracle," such as Ender, there are so many choices for both girls and boys that are equally as meaningful as they are interesting. Choosing a baby name with the special meaning of "miracle" is a signal of hope and optimism—and in these extraordinary times, we could all use some small miracles.

Putting a unique twist on a beautiful classic isn't hard with these baby names that mean "miracle."

Keep reading Show less
Learn + Play