When you Can’t Go Back

8 days ago I nuzzled a 3yo snuggler awake. My touch was soft, gentle. She didn’t want to wake up yet but still she turned to me and smiled. 

This morning I settled a thrashing 3yo awake to shake her from her own nightmare. “No, no, no!” she wailed and rolled and screamed. When she felt my touch, she flenched and fought more. She thinks I’m at her bedside to help a stranger force pricks, pokes, and pain.  

8 days ago, my brave and compassionate 5yo comforted her little sister. “It’ll be ok, Annie. I’ll push you for a ride around the hospital.” Yesterday, Audrey clawed my legs and shrieked in hospital bathrooms, protesting having to leave me for another night. “No one ever let’s me do anything here!!! It’s always about ANNIE!” 

8 days ago, I was dreading but hopeful about Annie’s third open heart surgery. Today,  I’m sitting next to my normal acting girl who’s still in the ICU because of a post op complication. Every morning the anxiety grows again as a team reminds Annie that she can’t eat at 4am, X-rays her at 5am, then starves her until 9 debating their decision. Annie has a pleural effusion, which is a significant amount of fluid filling up the pleural space between her right lung and chest wall. 


I can hardly remember who we were 8 days ago: rested, agreeable, thinking we might have gone home by now. Now in survival mode we’ve forgotten about home. Trading off nights asleep on hospital couches, arguing for midnight meds to be moved, pretending the beeps aren’t sounding, trying to manage my own trauma every time blue scrubs come through the door. ​

Last night we asked each other why we wanted this. Today I’m knowing my name is the one on that consent form. I’m responsible for her nightmares, her real life terrors that are justified. Our decision is the reason for the distress and dysfunction and desperation we can’t escape right now. ​

​We’re thankful Annie’s surgery went well but we are weary in the waiting. We have hard days behind us and hard days in front of us. This strange fight for survival isn’t over yet.

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4 thoughts on “When you Can’t Go Back

  1. Annmarie says:

    I am someone who has never met you, but found you through Ever Thine Home blog last week. I am touched by your countless entries of beautiful, honest, brave, encouraging words. I’m sure you don’t always feel encouraging, but you are doing an amazing job at being mama, following after Jesus, and shining Jesus’ light for others, even in the questions, struggle, and doubt. I am sorry for your pain. I am praying for each person in your family, and the very real and deep, oh so weary ache of right now. I want to say a special hello to Annie: Hi Annie! And a special hello to Audrey: Hi Audrey! Audrey, your name is beautiful and my own little girl is named Audree as well. And her best friend is named Annie. : ) Praying for all four of you, and that God will show you some beauty in the pain sometime today.

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  2. Misty Day says:

    Tracy,
    My heart truly goes out to you as you face this weary battle! You are an amazing mother – who absolutely made the right decision for your little Annie, it’s just that sometimes the right decisions are so very difficult. I have been praying for you and your family from the beginning of this most recent journey and this is now my prayer:
    Lord, I pray for Tracy and her family to be able to hide in the shadow of your wings as you cover them and carry them through this weary time of recovery. May your new mercies shine brightly and fresh every morning on this precious family. Empower Tracy and her husband with strength and energy to tend to their girls and make wise decisions. I pray that you would put your Almighty healing hand on Annie’s body and allow it to respond as you created it. Please drain the excess fluid quickly and completely and continue to keep her spirits up. I pray for every Dr. and nurse that tends to her that they would take care of her with love and gentleness. And I pray for big sister Audrey that you would help her with all of these different emotions that she (rightfully and understandably) feels right now- Lord, let her know how much you love her and how much her parents love her. Give her a sense of joy and contentment each day as only You can do in the midst of such trying circumstances. Lord, I pray for each member of this family – that You would give them good solid sleep (3 hours would feel like 6) as we know sleep helps repair the body and the mind. I pray for a hedge of protection around this family in every way and that You would be found faithful as You provide them with everything they need to endure this tiring and stressful journey. And may You work all things together for good b/c we know this family loves You and wants to honor You. Thank You for how far You’ve brought them, thank You for being ever-present with them now, and thank You for what You’re going to do in the future. In the powerful name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

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  3. Carolyn Stutz says:

    Hi, I stumbled on your story via family life. I just wanted to tell you the couple who used to be my youth pastors 38 years ago, have a daughter named Jessica who is now 35 years old. She was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. She is the oldest surviving HLHS patient. She has outlived all her doctors! (Well, I think they’ve retired) Where there is life there is hope, her mom Ruthie, says all the time. Jessica is now a youth pastor herself, living for God’s glory. May your Anne be used mightily for His kingdom!
    Praying God’s best for you, Carolyn Stutz

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  4. Indrani says:

    My husband and I are praying for the strength that you know you have but can’t necessarily feel right now. We have been through something similar. God bless.

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