It’s a little ironic that our family hails from Scotland – direct descendents of William Wallace. My own son shares the name that has passed down for years in the Wallace family. Despite the historical innacruacies, the movie rightly portrays William Wallace as a patriot, a hero and a brave warrior who fought for his country’s feedom. He was inspirational as he led his men to battle, ill-eqipped as they were. And, in the end, he never gave up hope – never stopped fighting.
I like to think that my son inherited more than his name, but also some of the characteristics that have left such an impact on history. True, the stubborn streak is one that gives a mother fits….but without it, he may not be alive today. He was born fighting – I was sick with pre-eclampsia which made the womb a hostile place for him and he was born pre-maturely weighing a mere 3 pounds. Three days later, he was diagnosed with a heart defect. As I look back, I realize the prognosis was very grim. But, despite his tiny size and sick heart, I never saw him as weak. Even the nurses’ in the NICU called him a wild man. He was a true Wallace. A true Braveheart.
Today starts Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week. It began in 1999 by an every day mom to a child born with a heart defect in an effort to educate the public and raise additional funding for support and educational services, scientific research, and improved quality of care for our children and adults. Today it is an international coalition of families, individuals, non-profit organizations, support groups, and health professionals participating in a campaign to increase public awareness of Congenital Heart Defects and Childhood Heart Disease.
A disturbing, and little-known statistic is that one in every 100 infants is born with a malformed heart. More babies are born with CHD than with spina bifida, Down’s syndrome and hearing loss. Yet, heart defects are sometimes overlooked and not routinely diagnosed in newborns. Until my son was born, I didn’t know anyone with a CHD. Now, I know so many. It isn’t that it’s rare…I think it’s that we don’t pay attention to a cause until it impacts our life in some way. I want people to be impacted NOW – before they experience this. Yes, it’s time we start screening babies for heart defects. But, until that happens, those of us who have weathered the storm can provide hope for those who are just beginning the journey. You can read my son’s whole story by clicking on Our Little Braveheart in the blogroll on the right.