A Picture Worth a Single Word

Getting the first ultrasound picture of your baby and finding out the gender (if you have chosen to do so) is probably one of the most exciting moments in a couple’s life. The anticipation to that appointment is almost unbearable and I remember counting down the days until I could see an image of our little girl that resembled more an actual baby rather than a little white dot. But our picture was just a little different. And as most are worth a thousand words, ours morphed into just a single, enormous “WHY?”

It was April 25, 2011, the Monday after Easter Sunday. I remember the day as if it was yesterday. As we walked from the car to the ultrasound office, for the first time since I had found out I was pregnant, I experienced what others referred to as “a mother’s instinct.” I just didn’t know it yet. I am known to get more anxious and nervous about things, especially when it comes to health, so I tried to brush it off, but I couldn’t. Nervously, I told my husband Matt that I was worried something could be wrong, but he quickly reassured me that everything would be fine and I just needed to take a deep breath and relax.

The nerves quickly disappeared as I entered the doctor’s office and all I could think about was whether we were stopping at Home Depot on the way home for pink or blue paint. I could not wait to get started on the nursery and all the other exciting preparations that came with having a baby. The appointment began in a typical manner and I completely forgot about any concerns that I might have had just minutes prior. But it was not long before I began to notice our ultrasound technician’s face get more serious and intense as she kept repeating “Oh this baby keeps turning and won’t let me take a good picture of the heart.” Still though, the thought that something was wrong was far gone and I didn’t pay much attention to what she was saying. But then followed a question, “Did you guys ever do testing for Down syndrome?” (Kaia does not have it but we later learned that half of children born with our daughter’s heart defect, have Down Syndrome. Hence, the question.) As we muttered a quick “no,” the air in the room got even heavier and the silence even more unbearable.

A couple of minutes later the ultrasound technician told us she was going to bring the doctor in to see if she would have better luck getting a picture of the heart. As soon as the door shut I turned to Matt and asked him why she just asked us about Down syndrome testing and told him that I thought that was very strange. Once again though, he reassured me that it was probably just common practice.

I didn’t believe him.

The technician returned with not one, but two doctors. Something wasn’t right. I knew it. My fear was confirmed by the intensity of the doctors’ faces as they were staring into the screen taking picture after picture of our baby’s heart. They did not even need to say a word for me to know that. Just minutes later, we were handed a piece of paper that would change our lives forever. It had a hand drawn picture of a heart and the words “AV canal defect” written on it.

And as most people leave their second routine pregnancy appointment with a picture of their baby and the happy news of whether they are having a boy or a girl, we left with neither. Instead we had a ripped piece of paper with a drawing and a couple of words we had no idea the meaning of. Our little Kaia was officially 1 in 110. Until that moment we weren’t aware of this statistic and how common it was for a baby to be born with a congenital heart defect (CHD). I can’t say I even knew anything about heart defects in children. It just wasn’t a thought that had ever crossed my mind. April 25, 2011 made it our reality though and from it was born the most inspiring and strong little girl that became the reason behind the creation of Pure Hearts and our determination to do everything in our power to ensure that every Pure Heart child gets the same amazing care and results that Kaia has had!

I have never shown this image to anyone except for our immediate family. Deciding to share it wasn’t easy for me but the reality is, it is part of Kaia’s and our journey and I knew that our story would not be complete without including it. So here it is. This is the first image of Kaia’s heart and the picture we came home with after our appointment to find out the sex of our baby. You can clearly see the hole that she needed repaired during her surgery.

XO, Yana