Mother’s Day is a day to shower the women that have loved us and cared for us with gifts in appreciation! We bring them flowers and homemade cards, in hopes of bringing a smile to their faces. But last Mother’s Day, Melissa Zolk received a very different kind of gift, one that changed her daughter, Maxine’s life.
Mother’s Day – Those two words hold a meaning unlike any other, especially if you are a heart mama. To a heart mama, they mean countless doctor’s appointments, medications, syringes, feeding tubes, therapies, hospital stays, and surgeries. They mean finding strength in moments when you thought you had none left. However, they also mean understanding differences and embracing the beauty that comes with those differences. The beauty of zipper scar lining your child’s chest. They mean understanding true joy because you have experienced true sorrow. The sorrow that began the moment you heard, “There’s something wrong with your baby’s heart!” Those words start a journey filled with the unknown. And little did we know what our journey would be like with our heart warrior. We received the devastating news at our 20 week ultrasound and from that point on, our journey took the path unexpected. Though now as a more experienced heart mama, I know that the unexpected is to be expected. Our daughter, Maxine, was born on October 1, 2015 with Transposition of the Great Arteries, Pulmonary Stenosis, and Ventricular Septal Defect. She had three heart surgeries including one open heart surgery before she turned one year old.
For me, Mother’s Day has even more meaning now. It still means medications, appointments, procedures, and worry, but it also means the GIFT OF LIFE. Last year on Mother’s Day, we received the call that changed our world – after living in the hospital and being listed for 137 days on the heart transplant list, Maxine was getting her new heart! Oh, how the emotions came flowing. Flowing free and fast and yet again, unexpected. I think the most unexpected feeling was the peace that I had. Yes, I was nervous and scared and worried and excited, but a feeling of peace came over me and lingered for a while. Sometimes, I wonder if maybe the reason I felt so at peace was because maybe the family who chose to give us this incredible gift in their time of incredible grief felt more at peace knowing that part of their child would live on within my child. Mother’s Day means my child received the greatest blessing, a second chance at life. It means that this year I get to celebrate at home with my husband and our three beautiful children. And on this Mother’s Day and every day to come, I promise to remember the mama whose heart is breaking because she lost her child last Mother’s Day. A day she will remember for a completely different reason than the reason I get to remember.
To my fellow heart mamas and all mamas, Happy Mother’s Day! Whether you are celebrating with your child here on Earth or your angel up in Heaven, I want you to know that I promise not to forget you and the amazingness you are as a mother. You were created to be the perfect mama for your baby and you are exactly what your baby needs. My hope is that you can remember that when the days are long and difficult because life will take unexpected turns and we will be there to help our babies get through it! Because, well, we are mamas and that is what we do!
Hi there! I am Melissa. Mama of three crazy, beautiful children, ages 3 and under and wife to the most amazing heart daddy on the planet. Our middle child is our heart warrior, and she is an energetic little stinker! Besides being a heart mama, I am a high school, special education teacher. In my free time, I like to make phone calls to doctors, pharmacies, and insurance companies. Ha, just kidding! Our heart warrior has been on quite the journey these last few years. If you would like to follow her journey, you can find her at Maxine the Mighty Heart Warrior on Facebook.