30 Years & Still Ticking!

                                                                            Tick Tock, she don’t stop!

Yep – thirty years ago today I underwent my last (knock wood) successful open heart surgery, while my parents waited to hear the news. I signed my own consent form, the first child at age 8 to do so. I was very disappointed to learn that, despite my “autograph,” my parents still had to sign that form.

At a magical place called Children’s National Medical Center in upper Northwest Washington, D.C., just on the other side of the Capitol dome, I had a four-hour surgery to replace my “pig” tissue mitral valve, which I had outgrown, with a St. Jude stainless steel valve. 

My Ticker!

My Ticker!

This amazing piece of machinery was placed by my terrific and loving surgeon, Dr. Frank Midgley, whom I am still in touch with today. I call my pediatric cardiologist, Dr. Sy Hepner (who kept me alive medically until I was strong enough for surgery) and Dr. Midgley, my surgeon, every year on this day and today will be no different. I had the fun of reconnecting with Dr. Midgley, now thoroughly enjoying retirement, earlier this year while I was working at Children’s National in the cardiology department. He was running the Van Metre 5K for Children’s National while I walked. I ran into Dr. Hepner, who was my cardiologist until I finished college, not long ago at the Eastern Market simply by recognizing the sound of his voice a few vendors away! 

Dr. Midgley & Lauren

Dr. Midgley & Lauren

But today is not all about me. It is about all of the other babies and kids and families on the 3rd floor at Children’s going through the same thing I and my family did. Every family that enters that hospital has a story: more kids at home, schedules to juggle, bedsides to attend, tension between work and being with their child.

I write today to encourage you to consider donating $30 for 30 years. Continuing to use the “in honor of our wedding” website link here, you can give directly to the Children’s National Heart Institute. Your contribution will support the research they are doing, the education and experience the terrific doctors, nurses and surgeons are sharing – across the country and around the world. The Institute ensures that research and learning will continue forever, and the success stories, like mine, will increase every year. Kids like me with congenital heart disease born in the 60’s, 70’s and beyond are living into adulthood, so there are now Adult Congenital Heart Disease programs in hospitals all over the country.

Every little beat counts, as does every dollar!

Tick Tock, I don’t stop! 30 years & Counting Ticking!

Married A Month!

We’ve been married a month and life is great!

Now, I’m not going to lie, there’s a ginormous let-down post-party, that’s a fact, but we are still here, still crazy in love (still taking selfies with Presidents) and still very happy!

Us in Washington County, MD this weekend.

Us in Washington County, MD this weekend.

I want to share a few things over the next few days from our special 9/19.

Today (in a small attempt to make Dan feel better after “the game” on Saturday), I would like to share the text of the toast my brothers gave.

I later learned that Matthew did not write what he shared, he’d been winging it that entire time!  Impressive.  Good thing we have it on video!

It was kept a secret from us who would in fact give a toast, and in the end, we couldn’t have been happier with what was shared! 

Thanks, guys!  We love you, too!

Enjoy.

…It came via email with the subject line:  Lolo Toast

We want to say a quick word about our big sister, who like our mother was born to build up communities and support families. We are two lucky brothers to be so loved and admired by our big sister. In everything we have ever done, no matter what anyone else thought, you better believe Lolo was our biggest fan. 

As many of you know, Lolo was born with less of a physical heart than most people. However, as all of you know, she has lived everyday of her life with more heart than anyone else. She commits herself to those in her life like few others can and she opens her life to anyone who needs a hand. 

When I was a kid and my memory really begins, Lolo went away to school and then to work on a nationwide political campaign. I was so proud of her, even though every time she returned home I only had about 5 minutes to hang out with her (or in her eyes, bug her) before you heard the nuclear cries of expletives I will spare you all from repeating. But when I went away from school, there wasn’t anyone more in touch with every step of my journey. My first game as basketball manager, our first road football game at Notre Dame Stadium (we don’t need to discuss Manti Te’o, his “girlfriend” or the score) or our trip all the way to the National Championship game, nobody cared more or travelled more than my big sister Lolo. Lolo – I love you and appreciate everything you do for me. 

{Insert Matt part here.} 

Ja, we are thrilled to welcome you to join us as the loyal caretakers of our big sister. Your caring nature and willingness to care for our sister means the world to us and we have experienced few moments of joy like we did that NYE of 2014 when you asked to join our family. Everything we ever cared about, Lolo cared about and therefore we welcome you with open arms. We look forward to growing old with you, brother. To Ja’s family, sorry to say it but you’re stuck with us. All of us. And Molly, we can’t wait to see your beautiful smile in our family pictures to come.

Lolo and Ja, we will love you two forever. We both strive to be the caring sibling you have taught us how to be through example. We could not be happier to share in this day with you, just like you have been the happiest to share all the joys we have experienced in our lives. We love you dearly Lolo. We hope to earn the pride we have always received from our big sister. Congratulations to you both and we look forward to our years ahead together as a family.

A Thing With Numbers!

I have a thing about numbers, I don’t know why.  No one else in my family does, and they all think it’s a little strange.  Truth be told, I hate odd numbers.  The fact that we got married on 9/19 still seems weird to me, but it was so collectively odd, even with a 2015 at the end, that the alliteration of “nine nineteen” all but made up for it.  What fun we had.  View an even number of four albums here on our wedding website: https://www.weddingwire.com/laurenandja

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Today is “Ten Ten” which was a runner-up for wedding weekend, before quickly whisked away by my (baby) cousin Spencer, who will marry his high school sweetheart, Sarah, today.  They were engaged just a few days before we were and it’s been fun following their love story for so long. (Sarah’s shower, the weekend after our wedding, is when it hit me that the fun of wedding planning was all over for us.)  This will be the first wedding since ours, the first we’ll attend as a married couple and the first I know Ja is looking forward to because I will not be whispering “I want that at ours” in his ear the whole time! My cute cousin’s wedding website is here:  https://www.theknot.com/us/sarah-eber-and-spencer-hayes-oct-2015

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It was Spencer and I who drove together all through the night to Atlanta, Georgia for the NCAA Championship Final Four games in 2013.  It was so much fun having the cousins together, and will be fun to be together again today for such a fabulous occasion! Go Blue!

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Here’s to more happily ever afters!