Mills and Robin

Home is Where Mills’ Heart Heals

By Robin, a Children’s National parent

Mills and Robin

I didn’t know what to expect when I was pregnant with my first child, Mills. And I never anticipated the shock of my 20-week appointment. The sonogram confirmed that my baby had only half a heart. Suddenly, nothing else mattered.


We went to Children’s National Hospital for more tests. Our doctors identified hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a condition where the left side of the heart doesn’t form properly and restricts blood flow. I immediately recognized this as the worst-case scenario from internet searches. Then they said the right half had defects.


Despite the terrifying news, the Children’s National team gave me hope. It was a lot of me, our care team and this little one against the world. I whispered to my baby, “Let’s just keep going.”


We stayed at the hospital after Mills’ birth and the first of two surgeries at 3 weeks. For me, that was my experience of being a mother. That was all I knew. Living in the hospital didn’t change how much we loved each other.


I read books aloud, played music and talked to Mills. Our neighbors in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit became our friends. The nurses were like our family, too. It was hard and not how we thought it would be, but it was us.


Mills recovered quickly, and we went home until a second surgery at 4 months. Once on the cold gurney, Mills started to cry. The anesthesiologist just scooped up my baby in his arms and cradled Mills off to surgery. It was the most precious moment of humanity I ever witnessed.


The surgery was a success. I remember our doctor showing me so many pictures of Mills’ “broken heart” until this point. When he handed me the image of the repaired heart, it was the greatest gift a mom could receive.


Today, Mills is a healthy teenager. Both of our hearts are full when Mills laughs, plays with our German Shepherd, rocks out to music or gets lost in a painting. 


Before Mills was born, I hoped we could spend just 30 seconds together, and we’d go from there. Children’s National gave us so much more time, and it has added up into an amazing life.

A young patient at Children's National Hospital.

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A young patient at Children's National Hospital.