Images Captured by Dawn Melanson Photography
Mother to four healthy boys, it came as a huge shock to Elizabeth’s parents when their daughter was diagnosed with congenital heart disease. Fear replaced anticipation as Elizabeth’s mom spent the next four months wondering if every kick she felt might be the last.
When Elizabeth was just three days old, her parents helplessly gave her away to a surgeon who initiated the process of “fixing her heart.” It is hard to imagine the pain of giving birth, only to have your child immediately taken away and put on drugs in preparation for life threatening surgery. She was just minutes old and already fighting to live. It is sheer agony, waiting when you should be holding, fearing when you should be ecstatic. One of the most difficult things they have had to endure was sitting beside Elizabeth’s bedside, watching her fight to live after her first surgery. After enduring a total of 56 days in the hospital, they were finally able to bring her home.
At just a teeny six pounds, she overcame 21 medication pumps, five IV's at a time, and an arrhythmia that made her heart beat at 240 for three hours. Despite all the challenges she has faced, she is happy and thriving. “She's so happy and strong willed. We know that if she can get through that, we can get through anything.” Elizabeth “likes to jump in her exersaucer, have tea parties with her brother, watch her brothers play, sit on the floor while playing with her toys, and be carried around by her daddy.”
She has taught her mom about the fragility of life and how to truly savour each moment with the ones you love. Instead of focusing on the scary things, they chose to focus on Elizabeth. “There are so many things that could go wrong with her … if I sat and thought about them, I wouldn't be able to enjoy her.”
“The road is long and hard, but worth it when you see them smile at you and begin to babble. You can learn a lot from your braveheart, and a lot about yourself in the process.”
Story by Tara Anderson