Second chances

The phone rang around midnight. I was already asleep. I jumped up  and stumbled around in the dark, looking for the phone. It had stopped ringing by the time I found it, in the computer room. I peered at the number, blurry from sleep and lack of glasses, it was difficult to make out – but I could tell it wasn’t my Hub calling from work. They didn’t leave a message, so I figured it was a wrong number.

I headed back to bed.

Carrying the phone with me, I checked on the babe. David would need to be fed soon, every 3 hours meant micro naps throughout the night. The other boys were sleeping snug, so I crawled into bed and faded away.

Until the phone rang again at 2am. This time I struggled to find my glasses and before I could pick up, a voice came over the answering machine “Mrs. Hillis this is so and so (because I honestly don’t remembered who called) from Cincinnati Children’s, I’m calling you about David, we think we’ve found a liver…..

That woke me up! The next couple hours are a blur – I packed – scrambling to find clothes from the pile in the hamper – being August, it was hot outside, but from experience I knew the hospital would be cool – where’s the winter clothes when you need them? Random things shoot through you mind – food – do I have any food to bring? – books? – what books do I want to bring? – movies? – toys for David? – iPod? – cash?  toothbrush? I knew we’d be away for at least 2-3 weeks, so I wanted to make sure I had what I needed.

I called Hub at work and said this is it – come home now. And then I sat down and cried. This was it – they had a new liver, the surgery would go down later today – within 24 hours, issues with the citrullinemia would be gone, replaced with whatever transplant obstacles we would face.

This was it.

Somewhere a family was in mourning, because their child had died. Their selflessness in the face of tragedy meant my son would have a 2nd chance at a normal life. For them I am forever grateful.

This was it.

Breathe deep.


This was it.

David and I left for the hospital, we made it there by 5am. They got us admitted and settled in a room. Familiar faces stopped by and chatted with us. We had spent so much time amongst these folks, it was like a home-coming. By 1pm, I had kissed Capt Snuggles good-bye and they had whisked him off to surgery.

This was it.

No going back now.

We waited 13 days from the day he was officially listed for transplant. 13 days is such a small amount of time to wait. Of course, I was worried. Not for what I didn’t yet know, but for what I did. Jonathan and Zachary had had such different post-transplant courses, both from each other and what’s considered ‘textbook’, that I could only begin to speculate on how well David would do.

And he did well, no surgical complications. He floated through 2 days in the PICU and nestled himself snuggly on to the ‘floor’ and into everyone’s hearts.

We were home.

Now, 5 months later, we’ve settled into a new home. The PICU. Of all the current patients in the unit, David has been here the longest. I’ve joked about being incarcerated here, but it is very much like a prison sentence. Sometimes with no hope of parole. We’ve had scary days and quiet days.  Up days and down days. We’ve made friends here and he’s got a cheering section – extraordinaire.

5 long months ago we arrived with the hope of a normal life. It’s been anything but. My hope for a normal life is gone – in it’s place it the hope for a life. Period.

Deep breath.


This is it.

There’s no going back now.

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , | 14 Comments

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14 thoughts on “Second chances

  1. Life is a gift & if anyone deserves gifts, it is you. And normal is overrated anyway. Sending lots of love from afar.

  2. Amy, you and David inspire me to focus on stuff that is important instead of fixating on stupid things that don’t matter. You inspire me to seek ways to be a better person and help the world around me. Two days from now I am donating blood in honour of David. As life-giving blood flows out of my body, I will imagine life force flowing into David, healing him, contributing to a miracle. I wish I could do more. Sending love, hugs, positive energy in your direction.

    • Beautifully said, Kirsten. Our huge snow has caused our local drive I was going to donate at to be canceled but I hope to donate soon.

  3. Hoping for life too, David deserves a third chance.

  4. Sending you and David best wishes for a speedy recovery.

  5. Love, love, love — sending you lots! 🙂


  6. carrie

    Sending you loads of love and prayers. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Your honesty inspires so many others to remember what is important each day.

  7. Praying for him. And all of you.


  8. Wintress

    Hope you feel the love and care we are all sending to you both. Someday we will meet and all of us will play on the beach until then sending love hope and healing energy

  9. sharon

    Not so good today then ;-(

    Poor baby and how hard this must be for you to have to sit and watch. Still hoping for the best.


  10. Had either of your other two boys gone through such a harrowing period post-transplant?

    I still hope.

  11. Cat

    ::white light::

  12. “Somewhere a family was in mourning, because their child had died. Their selflessness in the face of tragedy meant my son would have a 2nd chance at a normal life. For them I am forever grateful.”

    This alone had me in tears. Organ donation is so important, and I wish more families would make this choice.

  13. I am reading this with different eyes than I would have a week ago. I was so upset when Capt Snuggles lost his battle, for him and for your lovely family. Big hugs. Jen

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