Thursday, March 16, 2000

The Archives: Filling The Void

Today was my son's four-month doctor visit. We've taken him once a month from the time he was born to get regular checks on his growth progress, and at the same time make sure my husband and I haven't done any permanent damage as we learn the ropes of parenthood.

Jacob was born with a heart murmur. It delayed his discharge from the hospital after his birth, as we had to wait for a pediatric cardiologist to arrive, give it a listen and tell us what it meant. We were told to have it checked monthly by the pediatrician, and that in most cases this type of thing disappears within the first six months of life. If not, we should ring up the cardiologist and discuss next steps. So every month, the pediatrician would listen to Jacob's heartbeat, and we would hold our breath. And every month, she would hear the murmur.

But today she didn't. And I finally exhaled.

The murmur itself is actually a "whooshing" sound made by blood traveling through a hole in the heart that exists between two of the four chambers. A hole in the heart. In a newborn. Up until now, I tried not to think about what it would mean if the murmur didn't go away. Open-heart surgery later in life? Not always necessary, said the doctor. But being my mother's daughter (i.e. a worrier), I would fear the worst. What if? What if this situation turns out to be different from the majority? What if it weakens Jacob? And, heaven forbid, how could I ever live without him? How could I ever fill such a void, one that I didn't even know existed until he came into my life?

There's a song by Xtreme that I'd never given any thought to before, but now, will forever make me think of Jacob. The lyrics are "There's a hole in my heart that can only be filled by you." Until Jacob, I never knew there was a hole in my heart that only he would be able to fill. Maybe the murmur was in some way genetic then?

Though I know it's silly, I like to think that as he did so for me, maybe I helped fill the hole in his heart: that I helped stop the murmur. But even if that's not the case, it's still nice to be able to breathe again.

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