Happy Birthday Elina!
Happy Birthday Elina!

Happy Birthday Elina!

A Birthday Tribute by Amy-Lynn Howson

You are THREE years old, darling! This is something to celebrate with joy, gratitude, and a whole lot of fun!

You are expressive, kind, smart, hilarious, loving, a challenge, and stubborn (or “determined”), and you are a miracle!

Three years of defying the odds of your heart condition. Three years of overcoming diagnoses, prognoses, and near-death complications. Three years of working harder to thrive than most children will ever know. Three years of displaying the beauty and preciousness of life itself.

As I have a front seat to your day-to-day life over video calls, I am amazed to see you learning new things all the time! You can pick out each letter of the English alphabet and know just what it means and which action relates to it (“U” is for “UP!”, “N” is for “NO!”). You are starting to make more words and find your voice—I love hearing you say “Go!”, “juice!”, and “peease” (“please!”). Though I must admit, you are so intelligent and often opt for sign language to communicate instead of using words—just because it’s easier!

You love to dance and love music—those little toes and fingers love to tap, tap, tap with the beat! And of course, if it’s a particular favorite of the day, it’s gotta be played on repeat, repeat, repeat!

You have had some fun adventures with your caregivers! The zoo, lunch dates, and even a chance to check out the inside of a city bus that you love so much! You love things that go zooom!

It is painful, though, to see that you struggle to eat enough food to gain weight and get strong. Your brain has had insufficient oxygen all your life, and maybe that has affected your appetite center, and your GI system may not get enough blood flow because of your complex heart. And you sometimes are just a stubborn almost-three-year-old who is a picky eater and wants to control something in your life. But, oh baby girl, you need to eat!

I am SO thankful that your caregivers are committed to supporting you and have remained close to the amazing doctors who saved your life more than once. They did this to keep you safe. We await the advice and wisdom of specialized professionals on what is next for you and your heart because your heart journey is far from over.

Yet you are a heart warrior! You know exactly where to put your thermometer, blood pressure, and oxygen monitors. You can express what each of your medications does to help you: fluid pills? “Pee pee!”, vitamins? “Make you strong!”, aspirin? “For your heart!”. Yes, little girl, you are a wonder!

I don’t know why you were created with the complex, unique, special “single ventricle” heart that you have, but I know it is not a mistake and that there is purpose in everything about you!

May you continue to flourish and bloom and always know just how loved you are!

Learn More About Elina’s Heart

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