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Dear Worried Parent ...

Exactly one year ago, I took my daughter in for a routine heart checkup. She had a heart catheter procedure when she was an infant. We were told the results should last her a good 10 years. Well, 10 years turned into two, and we were told she would need an open heart surgery to fix it this time.

The surgery wasn't urgent but needed to be done within a few months, but we moved across the country shortly after that appointment. It took about six months before my daughter could see a new cardiologist. I was so worried for this appointment because we finally had to face reality and discuss surgery.

I can't count how many tears I have cried for her, prayers I have said for her, and nights I just worry about her. Being a parent is hard.

Her new doctor recommended we hold off on the surgery and try another heart catheter procedure first. I remember sitting with my husband in the waiting room during the procedure when the doctor said the words I had been dreading, "She did great, but ..."

Long story short: They discovered another problem in her heart. The new problem would require a whole different open heart surgery than the one we were already preparing ourselves for.

However, being so small, the doctors want to postpone this surgery as long as possible to avoid complications. So now we wait. We wait until her condition gets worse. When it gets to that point then it doesn't matter how small she is, they have to perform it.

To say that I am worried is the biggest understatement ever. I can't count how many tears I have cried for her, prayers I have said for her, and nights I just worry about her. Being a parent is hard.

This year alone she has gone to the doctor more than I have gone in my entire life — times 10. I can't count how many times I have sat with her in the doctor's office, for routine checkups to random toddler ER visits involving staples in the head. To top things off, the other night she accidentally bumped into her little brother's head and knocked her front tooth really loose. It was bleeding bad so I took her to the emergency room.

I felt so upset that this happened because I felt like this poor little girl already had enough problems to deal with. But as we sat in the waiting room, she sat on my lap, looked me in the eye, smiled and said, "It'll be OK, Mom."

Despite this little incident, she was the happiest person in the whole ER on a crowded Saturday night and brought some much needed sunshine into that hospital.

"It'll be OK, Mom."

She repeats this phrase to me frequently. I guess she knows I need that constant reminder to not worry so much and know that everything really will be OK. She doesn't know what the word worry means, and she honestly believes she will always be OK.

What I would give to think like a child again and have no worries in life! One of my favorite quotes reads, "It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it." My daughter has these trials to go through, yet you would never know. She is brave, happy and strong and carries her trials like they are nothing. And that is something I hope I can learn from her.

Once again, my daughter taught me an incredible life lesson when I am actually supposed to be teaching her. Thank you, sweet girl.

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