I can't tell you about Lorenzo, my son, in just one page. That's why I've written extensively about him on my blog. That's why I've written over 80,000 words of a memoir about losing him. That's why I'm collecting these hearts. Even still, the shortest version of the story is just three words long: My baby died. What else is there to know?
Well, my name is Jennifer. I'm a writer who recently returned from living in Chile, where I became a mom, but not in the way anyone dreams about becoming. When I was nearly six months pregnant with our first child, due to be born in September 2012, my husband, Ryan, and I learned that he had just half a heart. Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) is one of the most complex and severe congenital heart defects. Left untreated, it's soon fatal, and not all of the two out of 10,000 babies born with it are eligible for the series of open-heart surgeries that may prolong life but do not guarantee it or ever truly repair the heart.
We learned of the condition in Chile on a Monday in late May and flew home to California to meet with specialists on Thursday to understand our son's heart, our son's added risk factors, and what our son needed us to do as his parents. We did not want Lorenzo to only know pain and suffering so we took on that pain and suffering and I delivered him stillborn in early June.
Lorenzo changed my life forever.
I'm not collecting hearts in order to be judged about what we did for our son. I'm not collecting hearts to make a political statement about reproductive rights, though I am a fierce advocate. Quite simply, I'm collecting hearts because I kept finding them in the weeks and months following my son's death. They stopped me in my tracks, in my grief, and they reminded me of him, of his heart that was not designed for our world, and of the way my heart now beats for him. I continue to find them. Sometimes, they allow me to believe that they are from him. You don't have to believe that. All I ask is that you send me the hearts you find along your journey and let me know how they add to the Chain-Link Heart Project.
I thank you for having heart and I have a feeling others will, too.