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Heart Warrior Mom

Keila Sanchez

Posted on February 06 2020

Heart Warrior Mom

We all have a story. KozySaila is the story of my youngest daughter Saila. 

Ever since I was in college, I dreamed of having a little girl. My fiance and I played around with names and combined our names to form "Saila," which we found out later means sunshine in Arabic. Ten years later, we were blessed with a little girl. I still remember sitting in our 20 week ultrasound appointment and something came over me and I blurt out, "Can you check the baby's heart?" My husband looked at me and I shrugged my shoulders as the technician did a further check. 

Toward the end of our appointment, the ultrasound tech asked us to meet one of the doctors at the birthing center. We took a little walk down the hallway and entered the birthing center. The doctor led us to a room and closed the door behind us. I remember feeling nervous and worried, especially when she asked us to take a seat. The doctor looked at us and said, "I think there may be concern on the baby's heart. It could be nothing, but I would like for you guys to meet with a maternal fetal medicine doctor in Kalamazoo." A month later, we met with the doctor and he confirmed that our baby girl was coming with a heart defect.

In that very moment, I was filled with so many emotions and could no longer hear what the doctor was saying. I cried. I was scared. I didn't know what the future would hold for our little girl. My pregnancy went from a normal pregnancy to a high risk pregnancy overnight. I called my mother and we prayed together and she reminded me that God was in control.

Weeks passed and our little girl was growing very well. We were finally transferred from Bronson's Children's Hospital in Kalamazoo and told that Saila would have the best medical team at CS Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan. Saila's first diagnosis was called Transposition of the Arteries. Doctors said there was a prognosis and everything would be alright. In February of 2014, the doctors noticed something else was going on inside Saila's heart, but because she was growing, they could no longer see inside of her and now we had to wait until her birth day. 

I decided it was best to move closer to the hospital, three weeks before her induction day. Thankfully, I was able to stay with a close friend until Saila's arrival. The medical team was assembled and the date chosen, but Saila had other plans. On April 9, 2014, after two epidurals and 17 hours of labor, Saila Lizet was born, weighing a healthy 8lbs 2oz. The nurse promised me that I could hold her briefly, and it was the best feeling in the world! 

The cardiology team quickly took her away to another room and began an echo test. In our amazement, she was doing really well. The doctors said we could hold her, love her and even take her home, but that we would be back in a week to begin her first open heart surgery.

What a miracle we saw that day! We could not imagine that we would be going home with our baby girl for a few days. Big brother Jaziel was so excited to meet his baby sister. He gave her lots of kisses when we arrived to our house and it was such an amazing feeling for me to be home with my family, even if it was just for a few days.

I really wish I could have paused time. It was 12 days after birth that Saila's heart journey began with her first open heart surgery. I remember one night as Saila fought for her life in the ICU, I prayed that God would save her life through the night, as she was in heart failure and her scheduled open heart surgery was in the morning. The nurse repeated to me that "we must wait."

How many times do we struggle to wait? I wanted answers. As I lay on the ICU chair next to Saila's hospital bed, I decided to read a women's devotional my father gifted me. It was June 1st and the title "History 10." I didn't feel like reading anything about history. I just wanted to hear God's voice speaking to me. I felt a voice telling me to just read. So I did. Toward the end of the devotional, the following words jumped off the page and said, "Do not worry about tomorrow. I am already there." I felt a weight come off my shoulders as I heard those words repeat in my head. I knew right then, that Saila was going to make it through her 3rds open heart surgery the following morning. 

Saila, our warrior princess made it through surgery and recovered within one week. She is truly a miracle from above!

This is CHD. Even with modern medicine and the latest advancements in technology, there is nothing like a mother's love for her child. 


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