In a tear-inducing Instagram post on Monday, Canadian mom Holly Graham shared a touching “Heartiversary” tribute for her son, Jax.
The little boy has spent three years enjoying a healthy heart due to a complex surgery he received when he was just an infant. Graham poignantly explains how vulnerable the experience was for their whole family.
3 years ago pretty much down to the minute we handed over our tiny 10lb, 11 week old Jaxson over to an extremely talented team of surgeons, nurses and RT's for an open heart surgery to correct a large AVSD. In a big way I have always looked at this day as the first day of the rest of our lives. It was like we couldn't move on until this giant hurdle was overcome. This surgery came with complications that kept him in the hospital for almost a month with a few more extended hospital stays following. We are so thankful to have this all in our past. Its hard to believe 3 years has already gone by, but in a way it feels like a lifetime ago. Today we are celebrating 3 years with a whole heart ❤. HAPPY HEARTIVERSARY JAX!! ❤❤❤ #downwithjax #downsyndrome #downsyndromeadoption #adoption #t21 #heartwarrior #ohs #avsd #openheartsurgery #myhero #ismyson #warrior #3years #celebrate #thankful #iWILLdeleteyourAmencomment #thatannoystheshitoutofme
In the post, she notes the pain she and her wife felt handing over their tiny newborn for open heart surgery and the relief they felt being able to move forward once the surgery was over.
Jax’s complicated surgery left him in the hospital for nearly a month, with extended medical stays in the months that followed. And now, exactly three years after that first visit, these courageous parents are able to breathe a deep sigh of relief and gratitude.
“We are so thankful to have this all in our past. It’s hard to believe 3 years have already gone by, but in a way it feels like a lifetime ago. Today we are celebrating 3 years with a whole heart,” Holly explains.
As expected, the post has garnered a ton of attention with over 5.4K likes and an overwhelming amount of support. Comments have poured in from around the world praising the moms for their bravery and determination.
“Thank you so much for sharing this today,” one mom commented. “We are in the middle of our son’s hospital stay for his repair and keep hitting bumps in the road. Your post gives us hope that we will be making this same post a year from now.”
When asked about the challenges surrounding Jax’s surgery, Graham tells Babble that the family traveled a whopping six hours to the hospital every single time Jax required a medical visit.
“Being away from home for such a long period of time is very expensive and emotionally draining,” she says. “Taking extended time off of work was also a big hit to our family income. The bills at home still had to get paid.”
Graham also acknowledges how difficult the experience of staying in the hospital was for everyone involved. To parents who are going through a similar situation, she encourages them to hang in there and take the whole process one day at a time.
“A sick child, the hospital food, monotonous days, hard cots for parents to sleep on, need I say more? The best advice I can give is just to stick it out. Take it day by day, or hour by hour if need be. It will be so worth it in the end, and one day you will look back on this time and it will be just a blip in your life,” she says.
The tireless dedication required for Jax’s care is nothing new for these mamas. Born with Down syndrome, Jax entered the world three weeks early with several medical complications. After about a month back and forth between the NICU and home, Jax’s birth mother decided to hand him over to a loving adoptive family who could give him the care she felt she couldn’t. And for Holly and Alex, the decision to welcome Jax with open arms was an immediate one.
“We knew we wanted to adopt a baby with Down syndrome,” Graham tells Babble. “We signed up with a private adoption agency and went through all the steps. We weren’t even on the list yet when we were vacationing in Las Vegas and we got the call about Jax. We hopped on the very next plane home, met his birth mom that night and met Jaxson the following day. It was a whirlwind!!”
And the love affair has just kept growing for this trio!
Graham describes her son as having “literally the best personality ever,” and commends him for his ability to bring a smile to everyone he encounters. She also loves celebrating the victories Jax works unbelievably hard to accomplish, which are often milestones that other children easily achieve.
“One of our favorite things about having a child with Down syndrome is that we get to celebrate the smallest milestone like it’s winning Olympic gold. He works so incredibly hard for things that come to typical children naturally,” Graham notes. “To see the look of pride on your child’s face… is one of the coolest things ever. He makes my heart burst every day.”
Despite the many expected and unforeseen bumps in the road, Holly and Alex have beautifully embraced the unique needs of their child. I am so blown away by this family and their unyielding strength.
Happy “Heartiversary,” Jax!