Playful giggles and smiling faces were the sights and sounds these parents never expected to experience. The kids playing and laughing together was refreshing to watch, as these children had been spending quite a bit of time in a hospital bed at one moment or another. In early December, families who connected through Texas Children’s Hospital’s inpatient Heart Center floors and Texas Children’s Fetal Center planned a Christmas party to celebrate not only the holiday, but being out of the hospital together on that special day.
Our families share a special bond. Each of us has a child with a congenital heart defect (CHD) who has been treated at the no. 1 hospital in the nation for pediatric cardiology and heart surgery – Texas Children’s. Our families understand the struggles associated with caring for a child with a CHD. Typical outings to the playground or mall have to be monitored closely, as our children’s immune systems aren’t as strong as those of heart-healthy kids. Our families can relate to each other, and often share tips and give advice on how they have persevered through their journeys in the hospital. The hope to see our children smiling and playing after the battles fought inside the hospital walls is something that could never be promised. Our children will always have to take precautions and preventative measures when interacting with the world, which can be a difficult concept for a parent of a heart-healthy child to comprehend. However, heart families get it.
This Christmas party wasn’t only beneficial for the kids, but for the parents as well. The friendships formed through Texas Children’s are unlike any other. The parents of CHD kids have an inner strength that lives inside of them, which is usually discovered while inpatient. They have an appreciation and understanding for each other and the numerous challenges encountered each day. It’s critical to have friends to talk and share with during the ups and downs of their child’s stability. Although many of these families live in different cities, they often eagerly make the drive so they can spend time with the people who understand their lives the most.
This Christmas party was a wonderful time spent with heart families outside the walls of Texas Children’s, and is definitely the first of many celebrations to come.