Monday, November 2, 2015

Knox's Christmas Book Drive

As many of you know we spent the days leading up to Christmas in Nationwide Children's Hospital for Knox's second open heart surgery. We checked in for surgery on December 19th and thanks to our amazing surgeon Dr. Galantowicz we were released on Christmas day.

With it being Knox's first Christmas, I was bummed that we were spending it inside the hospital walls, but the success of his surgery and his recovery was a beautiful Christmas gift. No matter what your child's illness is being in the hospital around the holidays is hard. Nationwide did a wonderful job providing gifts, decorations, and Christmas cheer to those in the hospital. Santa even snuck in while we were sleeping and left Knox a gift.

Not knowing how long we were going to be in the hospital I brought a Christmas tree, our stockings, Christmas jambes, and a few gifts for Knox in case we were in over the holiday. My dad went across the street to the CVS and bought us all hats so that we could start a Christmas tradition. It was a very humbling and intimidate time to be together, and be thankful for our Christmas blessings.

With the holiday season right around the corner, I can't help but think about our time in the hospital, and the families who will be there this year. To honor Knox's successful heart surgery and to do something for Nationwide Children's Hospital, our family would like to invite you to be apart of our Christmas Book Drive. If you would like to participate we ask that you donate a Christmas book or your favorite story to our drive. Families can gather together in the comfort of their hospital room and read a story together to celebrate Christmas and togetherness.

If you are out of town and worried about shipping your book to us, we have made an Amazon Wishlist (click here) with lots of Christmas stories on it. You can shop and the book will be mailed straight to us. You can always go to your local bookstore and purchase your favorite story and get it to us. All the books will receive a stamp in the inside stating that it was donated in honor of Knox, Congenital Heart Defect Warrior, and donated to the CTICU and the step down unit of the Heart Center at Nationwide.

We appreciate your interest in providing a little Christmas cheer to children with heart problems like Knox while they are in the hospital. We still can't thank Nationwide Children's Hospital enough for all the did for our little guy and our family, and we will continue to support them however we can!

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Though we just celebrated Knox's 1st birthday a few weeks ago, today was another anniversary that will forever be important in the Hatmaker home.

Today is the one year's anniversary of Knox's 1st open heart surgery.

On some of my support groups that I am apart of, parents celebrate heart-iversaries with cakes and parties. I am not sure that I want to go down that road (because there will be a year I forget), but I do feel that this life event is one that we should celebrate as it gave our little guy hope. It allowed him to grow bigger and stronger, and have a life outside of the hospital.

I couldn't help today but think about that day a year ago. I remember staying at the hospital the night before holding him as long as I could.

And then you can't help but see how far we have come. I wonder what the future will be like when I have to explain to Knox why he has a scar down his chest. Will he feel self-conscious about it? Will it bother him? I hope that he can understand how brave he was, how special he is, and what a miracle he is to us.

As I spent my day with my little miracle, one of our heart families at Nationwide Children's Hospital lost their heart warrior. They too, like us, traveled from Kentucky to get their son the help he needed. He had a long, hard road, and fought his awful CHD as long as he could. Please say a prayer for this family as they go through the unthinkable.

Congenital Heart Defects are ugly. Though they range in severity, no child should ever have to go through all this at such a young age. We will continue to raise awareness and funds to help fight against it. And until they find causes, we will continue to celebrate our heart-iversaries and our heart warriors. I know I will.

Friday, March 6, 2015


Well we made it. 

Happy 1st Birthday Knox Andrew Hatmaker! 

For a whole 365 days I have been the mommy to a very special little miracle.  As all of you know we got off to quite a rocky start. It has been down right hard at times. But... it has also been wonderful and filled with more love than one might ever believe to know.

I am not going to lie... I have cried several times leading up to this day. And I am sure I will cry today and tomorrow as we celebrate this little guy. It is hard to put into words what this day means in my life. I guess when I look back to around this time last year that wondered if we would make it to this day...March 7th, 2015. But with the help of medicine, Dr. Mark Galantowicz, Dr. Carol Cottrill, Nationwide Children's Hospital, God, love, prayers, and support - we are here.

On Sunday we will celebrate Knox's birthday with family and friends at our home. I have had many people ask me what the theme of Knox's party is. The theme is: On the Night You Were Born. It is a beautiful children's book that my best friend Salena gave to Knox. Of course, it was to be read on the night he was born, but instead she shared it with him on their first visit weeks later.

The night that Knox was born was not a happy time for me like most parents feel. It was scary. It was uncertain. It wasn't a time of sweet baby pictures and cuddles. Our family was separated. This isn't how I want to forever remember the night Knox was born.

So the story, meaning, and colors of "On The Night You Were Born" theme is like a re-do. A time to remember the night Knox was born as the special night that it should be, and will forever be in my heart. What the story says is true...
On the night you were born, 

The moon smiled with such wonder
That the stars peeked in to see you
And the night wind whispered,
“Life will never be the same.”
Because there had never been anyone like you…ever in the world.

Happy 1st Birthday Knox! I love you more than you will ever know and so glad that God picked me to be your mommy. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Heart Month and our Heart Hero

As many of you know February is Heart Month. While many think of only raising awareness for heart disease in women and adults, research for congenital heart defects (CHDs) is underfunded and doesn't get the attention it needs. 1 in 100 babies are born with a CHD and it kills more children than any type of children's cancer. 

Of course being new to the CHD family, I am not near as good as raising awareness as some of the other awesome moms I have met through support groups. I do what I can though. So when Nationwide Children's hospital contacted us about sharing our story during heart month we were eager to say yes. 

Though many of you have seen our interview with NBC 4 Columbus, I wanted to share the story. We met with Gina from marketing and Ellie Merritt the reporter and news anchor who would be sharing Knox's story in the Magic Forest at Nationwide. We were missing one very important guest at the party though - Dr. G! He was one of the reasons we were excited to do the interview because he would be there as well. We haven't seen him since we left Columbus, and of course, he holds a special place in our heart. 

We went up to the cardiology clinic - a place we were very familiar with and set up in a conference room. We began our interview and waited for Dr. G's arrival.  Of course when he arrived everyone stopped what we were doing. He seemed nervous because he doesn't like the spotlight, and apologized because he had been up all night in surgery. He was excited to see us and excited to see Knox. It was nice to see him and not be nervous and talking about surgery. He is such a wonderful individual and an amazing surgeron.  He have me some advice - but that's another blog. 

Ellie, the reporter was wonderful to work with- Very professional and extremely caring. She seemed interested in our journey and loved Knox. Who doesn't though? We were excited to see what they put together to share Knox's story. I am glad it is something we can show him as he gets older. Thank you to Gina, Nationwide, Ellie Merritt, NBC 4, and Dr. Galantowicz for benign apart of our heart awareness story. 

I have spoke a few times about being a part of support groups on Facebook. You can learn a lot from them and it's a great way to not feel alone. One of the groups I am a member of is exclusively for mothers whose children have had heart issues at Nationwide Children's Hospital. 

One of their projects during Heart Month is to make a video to thank the staff of Nationwide. Here is the wonderful video they made, and you might even see someone you know! Thank you JoAnne for making this video and allowing me to find comfort in this group.

Lastly, the important thing for us to remember is that we should raise awareness for CHDs everyday not just in February. I have seen way too many children affected by these issues this year. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

January 30th.

A year ago today, I was suppose to be in Fort Worth preparing for the Cowtown Classic Sale and celebrating my birthday at Tim Love's Lonesome Dove Bistro. Instead I was doing exactly what the doctor ordered - laying in the bed.

You see January 30, 2014 was my first day of bed rest. We had just returned from Denver and I was having one last baby check up before we headed to Texas. Instead I found myself headed to the Labor & Delivery floor to be admitted for blood pressure monitoring. After spending my first (turns out - of many) nights in the hospital, I was sent home not to travel and not to do anything. Well, we did go out for Mexican and then we came home and sat on the couch.

Birthday night 2014

In hindsight that first day of bed rest was pretty easy to what started spiraling after that first initial hospitalization. But as this 21st birthday (yes I have age issues - get over it) came around this year I couldn't help but reflect on what a different person I am this year than I was last year.

First being that I a mom to a precious -almost 11 month old - heart warrior who is my hero. That precious little boy has changed my life (literally, emotionally, physically, mentally) more than I would have ever thought possible. I have learned a lot about myself, my husband, life, medicine, the city of Columbus, and faith. I am a stronger person than I was a year ago. The person in the picture above would have been in the fetal position (and I was at times) when hard things came my way.  I have a stronger marriage. Not that we didn't have a wonderful marriage before, but going through the past year and having him stick by my side, hold me when I have cried, slept on hospital couches, and became the best daddy has made us both appreciate each other and marriage more.

Though 2014 brought Knox to us, it definitely wasn't my favorite year. It was hard. It was sad. It was nerve wrecking. It was the year that changed me, but I am so glad for that. I know that because of that year, that this year I am able to be a better mother, wife, and person than I was a year ago, and that is worth celebrating.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Reason

Dr. Cottrill (Knox's cardiologist) told us sometime ago that she writes Knox's name in the prayer book at her church. That book is prayed over several times throughout the week. But it wasn't until our return visit after Knox's second open heart surgery that Dr. Cottrill told me that after our initial meeting back on February 13, 2014 - she prayed for me.  I was a WRECK. They had just confirmed my worse fear that something was wrong with my baby. They were sending us off to another state to have our baby. She told me that she would take care of my baby upon return, but what she didn't say was she was scared too. She said that when she gets scared; she prays. And that day she prayed for me and my baby. 

I think Dr. cottrill is a saint, and like Dr. G I feel like she was placed in our life and Knox's life for a reason. 

One of the only ways you can cope with all this is to believe it all happens for a reason. That we were all suppose to go through this for some reason

I have learned that congenital heart defects (CHDs) are like a community. Families need support and sometimes others just don't get what you are going through. After Knox's first surgery I emersed myself in Facebook groups for CHD. I read about others stories, and even found other members of our Nationwide Children's Hospital. It wasn't until October that I finally felt my reason. My best friend Salena told me her preacher and his wife had a newborn who after a pulse ox test was diagnosed with a CHD. I immediately asked for their email and reached out to them. I needed them to know they weren't alone. I felt God leading me to their family and their new little boy. To make a long story short, they saw Dr. Cottrill as well and ended up at Nationwide. He is doing well. 

Just recently the wonderful world of Facebook led me to a blog written by a young lady who was apart of my FFA story. Her pregnancy sounded a lot like mine met with preeclampsia. We messaged back and forth, and I shared my story with her and hopefully words of encouragement. Sometimes I think it's just nice for someone to know all the medical stuff you are going through without having to explain it. Her baby was born at 28 weeks and unfortuntately now they have found a CHD. My heart ached for her as they prepare for surgery tomorrow. 

Where am I going with all this? Like it or not, this is our story. This is my story. And if sharing my experiences, knowledge (or lack there of), and emotions helps someone get through a trying time than it makes it all a bit easier to understand. As we sometimes wander why we are put in situations; I realize now that God has put my family through this experience with Knox so that I can hopefully lend support to other moms finding themselves surrounded by medical talk, doctors, monitors, and hospitals. 

Dr. Cottrill prayed for me. I feel like it's not fitting if I pray for the moms who were scared just like me. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

One Month Post-Op

It is hard to believe that a month ago today we had just endured one of the longest days of our lives. Well, labor was long - all 28 hours of it, but I don't remember much of it so doesn't seem that long to me! 

Instead I speak of the 7 hours of surgery for Knox and the 7 hours of waiting for us. Now it seems like it was so long ago. Maybe I fee like we have put that behind us now, and only look forward. 

Anywho, for those of you who don't know we were released on Christmas Day from the hospital. Though it was a wonderful gift, NEVER try to get released from a hospital on Christmas. Of course, we arrived to family, friends, and neighbors welcoming us. 

Our Christmas was low key, but very good for little Mr. Hatmaker. We did things the day after, but Santa found his way. We have tried to stay at home nestled away from the germs and the flu as Knox continued to heal. 

We have been back to our local cardiologist Dr. Cottrill, who was very happy to see us and very happy with how things went in Columbus. Knox lost some weight from our hospital stay and our recent battle with the stomach flu so we are working on getting our appetite back and gaining some weight. 

With our 10 month birthday behind us now, we are now in full party prep mode! One year old! How can that be? I had a hard time with 10 months. Double digits and growing up. It's been quite the journey thus far. 

This week, mom and dad and all of our friends are enjoying Denver. We are spectating from home, but have been prepping Knox for his National Western time in the future.

I will leave you with this. No statement could be truer, and I am so glad that I get to be his mommy,