I'm having a hard time today. Not that this blog is about me; or even Preemptive Love Coalition. This blog exists to shine a light on the children and the families.
Still, I'm having a hard day. The reason I'm having a hard day is really tied to the fact that Mohammad Fwad is having a hard day.
On a normal day we are able to write about these amazing children and their amazing journeys from heart break to wholeness. On a normal day we focus on smiles and avoid anything that smacks of manipulation. A normal surgery group for us comprises 3-5 kids rather than 30 children. And on a normal day kids go through surgery without incident and their stories are very predictable. Unfortunately, today is not a normal day.
Today Mohammad Fwad - a little two year old that I first met 5 months ago - is not doing as well as we hoped.
The low pressures in his heart this morning prompted the team in the Intensive Care Unit to re-open his chest in order to ensure that he was not septic and that no other complications had arisen. Thankfully, Mohammad is doing much better now.
But I'm not a doctor and I don't really understand that. I just saw a little two year old laid bare on the table with signs all around that read "OPEN CHEST." One of the nurses in ICU, Micah, explained to me how they purposefully "paralyzed" him. That doesn't do anything good for my emotions! And then I had to bring Mohammad's dad in... because he asked! And I just couldn't keep him away. I was terrified to let him see his child that way. But I know how I would feel if I was locked out from my only child... Well, I think I know how I would feel.
And actually, Mohammad is not the only child as of yesterday.
His mother gave birth to a healthy baby boy yesterday (though his heart has not been echoed yet for heart defects). And the presence of that little brother has changed so much in my mind. How terrible it would be to have your big brother die on the day you were born? How amazing it would be to have your big brother's life saved on the day your life in this world began! Either way, this new little boy changes things!
As Mohammad's dad stood by, I stood back.
It wasn't because I didn't feel welcome at his side. It was simply because I didn't want my tears and my emotions to send him in to an emotional tailspin. But, of course, I forgot: I'm in Iraq. His dad was a rock, at least on the outside. There I am crying about somebody else's boy and he's all greetings and gratitude. After less than a minute, his father left the Unit and I went back to my make-shift office to bawl.
As I write, the dear nurse at Mohammad's side, Amy, says that Mohammad is going to be OK - "As long as I'm working, this child is NOT dying." But, of course, Amy and I both know that it's never that simple. If only it were.
Remedy Missions are international pediatric heart surgery teams that we bring to Iraq to to perform lifesaving heart surgeries and develop the infrastructure for the future. If you're on Twitter this week be sure to use the #Remedy or #RemedyMission hashtag to describe all the good news coming out of Iraq this week via @preemptivelove and @babyheart_org. If you're on Facebook, "Share" this story with the button below.
Photos by Heber Vega.