It is hard to believe Ava and Aidan's first birthday is here. It is even harder to believe that we are actually home to celebrate. Last night all I could think about was that the year before, I couldn't sleep because I was so scared about what the future held. I was scared to have the c-section, but I was terrified to put our plan in motion. I knew Ava's dream team had thought of everything and did all they could to set Ava up for success. However, I knew that once Ava was born we had a long road ahead and she had less than a fifty percent chance of making it. I wasn't sure if I was strong enough to handle what was to come and I was so scared our precious little girl we had been fighting for all these months while I was pregnant, wouldn't make it to her first birthday. Not only did we have to make it through her first surgery, but we also had to make it through recovery, interstage and the Glenn. The obstacles seemed insurmountable and I didn't know how we were going to make it through, I just knew that I would move heaven and earth to give Ava the best shot at reaching her first birthday and many more after that.
What I didn't know the night before she was born, was that Ava was even more of a fighter than I ever could of imagined. We should have known when she starting crying before they even pulled her out of my stomach at 8:20 am that we had one sassy, little heart warrior on our hands. Ava's incredible journey began in that moment and nothing could have prepared us for the roller coaster ride we found ourselves on from that moment forward. Ava seemed to have one set back after another and if anyone would have told me she would be in the hospital for four months after birth, I never would have believed them. Although we knew heart kiddos tended to have feeding issues, I never would have guessed Ava would have had to have a nissen, g tube and later a g/j tube. I was not prepared for her to be exclusively tube fed and unable to take anything by mouth for much of her first year of life. Even though we knew Ava was at risk for lung issues, I never would have guessed that she would be on oxygen support 24/7, in order to keep her oxygen saturations in the mid seventies to low eighties.
What is amazing to me, is that despite all of these issues, Ava is here and she is a happy, sassy, adorable, resilient little girl. Even as young as she is, from birth on she has proven herself to be an individualist and is a force to be reckoned with as she blazes her own trail. I admire her resiliency, strength and determination. She has taught us so much about life, faith, and parenthood. She and her brother are the light of our lives and we feel so incredibly blessed to be their parents. We are also so thankful for the prayers and support we have received from our incredible family, friends, co-workers and fellow heart families. We would not have made it through this last year without all of you by our side to lift us up and carry us through. We are also thankful for the amazing team at Mayo, her local pediatrician Dr. Waggoner, her nurse Cathie and everyone at ChildServe who has cared for Ava this year. It has truly taken a village to keep our little girl on the right path this year and we consider all of you to be part of our family. This journey has only just begun and we are so thankful to have you by Ava's side as we embark on this next chapter. We are also thankful for all of the amazing people in the heart community we have met. Thank you for reaching out to us and for all that you do to support and advocate for children impacted by HLHS and other congenital heart defects.We celebrate Ava's big day with all of you and appreciate all you have done to help her reach this milestone.
Today was an amazing day and you will see from the pictures below, that Ava and Aidan enjoyed celebrating. We didn't have a big party, we just enjoyed being home together as a family. We opened presents, had some cake, took some pictures, gave lots of kisses and thanked God for giving us this day after a year we will never forget. We will be celebrating with the grandparents this weekend and know the kids will be thrilled to see them. Thank you for your continued support and prayers. The first chapter of Ava's life with an extraordinary heart has been written and we are excited to begin this next chapter. Ava is our little miracle and we are hopeful that this next chapter will be a smoother ride.
|Ava woke up happy and ready to celebrate this morning.|
|Big Bird, Elmo and Cookie Monster were ready to help us celebrate.|
|Ava was dressed in her party clothes when I left for work. Silly girl!|
|Daddy with his favorite birthday kiddos!|
|We are so blessed to be together and home for their first birthday.|
|Ava opening her presents from Nanny Kim. Thank you! She is going to be a shoe fanatic like her mom. :)|
|Ava and Aidan opening presents together.|
|Ava checking out her new toy, Violet.|
|Ava's first cake. Hopefully next year she will get to actually eat some.|
|Ava and Aidan's first cakes. Yummy!|
|Ava wasn't too sure at first, but then she dug right in.|
|She clearly wasn't afraid, look at those hands full of frosting!|
|Aidan went crazy with his cake. It was everywhere!|
|Daddy gave him a taste of frosting and he went nuts. He figured he would just stick his whole face in the cake. Here I thought he probably wouldn't even eat any. I guess frosting is one thing he will eat. :)|
|Ava at the end of a big day, taking her nebulizer treatment like a champ, with a little pink frosting on her face for good measure. :)|