As an expecting or new Mama, the love you have for your baby is unmatched. The feeling and joy is consuming when you learn you are pregnant, and no one can explain to you that feeling until you experience it yourself. One of the hardest things in this world as a parent is to see your child unwell. From the basic cold, to more serious issues like heart conditions, the complete helplessness is devastating.
Tiffany received the life changing news with not one, but two of her daughters. Both of them suffer from a similar heart condition requiring them to endure surgery at only a few months old. Tiffany’s life changed instantly with her first baby, and she was prepared to do it all again. She had to immediately change her mindset on how she envisioned “motherhood”, and had to become the Mama her daughters needed. An advocate, and a fighter for her daughters health and survival. Please meet Tiffany, the Mom who defy’s all odds.
1- Tell us a little bit about yourself? Where are you from, how many children do you have, and how old are they?
I am an active duty military spouse, mom of two little girls both born with heart conditions, a virtual assistant for estate planning attorneys, and I am a coach for moms helping them connect to their true self! My girls are 6 and almost 3 years old. Born and raised in Southern California, and still live in Southern California. I have been together 9 years with my husband, and married for 7 years this year.
2- When did you know your daughters had heart conditions?
My first daughter, we didn’t know until she was born. I had a normal pregnancy. When I was in labor, her heart rate kept dropping during contractions. I ended up having an emergency c-section. She cried for a second, but then was blue and she was rushed to the NICU, and then to the cardiac ICU at the children’s hospital that was next door.
With my second daughter, we had ultrasounds early and we were told she was fine. It wasn’t until I was 37 weeks pregnant that we found out she had some heart defects similar to my older daughter. I had to have a planned c-section with her, because they couldn’t tell the severity of her heart defects since I was so far along. I also had polyhdraminos, which means I had too much amniotic fluid.
3- What was the hardest part of your journey, and how did you manage to continue to conquer each day despite the heart conditions?
The hardest part was not being able to have any control over how my daughter did after her surgery. She had open heart surgery at 3 months old, and again at 4 months old, and spent 5 months in the cardiac ICU. When she came home with a trach and g tube, and was on lots of medicine. I had to learn how to take care of her. She needed medicine, we had to care for her trach and gtube, and learn how to take them out of her. There was a lot to learn, and we had to learn quickly. Luckily she only had her trach for 10 months, and g tube for a year and a half.
Her cardiologist always tells me our daughter did so well because of how well I took care of her. Which is huge because he told me the day after she was born he didn’t think she was going to make it, and here she is 6 years later. He always tells her she proved him wrong! It is unreal how helpless you feel when you can’t help your baby get better. Each day I moved forward because I knew if she wasn’t going to make it she wouldn’t have. So each day she woke up and fought, she made me fight too. Another hard part was having to accept and adjust that my idea of having kids was not my reality.
4- Has your daily routine returned to normal since the surgery? When did things return to normal for you?
The first year was hard, and we had to adjust to having 24 hr nursing in our home. But after she started to get better, we went from medical caregiver routine to a stay at home mom routine. Now both girls are just like any other kid, and our routine is pretty normal. Both girls are doing great, and our medical journey isn’t what it used to be. My older daughter has an artificial pulmonary valve in her heart so we still take precautions and I still get worried when she gets sick, but we have pretty normal routines now.
5- What was the biggest life lesson you learned from your experience?
Never give up, and be your child’s advocate. There were so many times that I felt like giving up, but then I would see my baby still fighting. And there were so many times I had to stand up for my daughter, and be her advocate with her doctors because the plan they had was not right for her.
6- As a military spouse, was your husband with you during this difficult time?
He still had to go to work during her hospital stay, but he was there for most of it. His command was very accommodating when it came to taking time to spend with her in the hospital, or go to doctors appointments. For my second daughter, he was stationed in Japan when I found out about her heart, but he was able to come home for her birth. Then they stationed him back here in California. Due to the nature of being in the military, he wasn’t there as much as I would’ve liked, but he was there for a lot of it.
7- What is it like being a military spouse?
Sometimes it’s hard because the mission of the Marine Corps comes first, but then there are times it’s no different than the civilian world. We’ve been fortunate that my husband has been stationed in California most of his time, and we haven’t had to move like other military families do. However, that’s due to the nature of our daughters health conditions. There are long days and deployments are hard, but luckily right now my husband is not deployed. The three deployments we went through together were before our kids were born.
8- What advice would you give to other Moms encountering challenges?
Don’t give up. The hard challenges are detours to your happiness, and now I see there’s always a lesson in those challenging times. I didn’t realize how strong I was or how I could stand up for my kids until I had to.
9- What is your favorite thing about motherhood?
Hearing my kids laugh and those sweet hugs.
10- Tell us a bit about your businesses? How do you manage your time to be the best mom and business owner?
I am a virtual assistant for estate planning attorneys and a coach for moms. My mission is to help moms connect with their true self and live an authentic life so they can enjoy motherhood, instead of being stressed and overwhelmed. I manage my time by time blocking and planning it out, and setting realistic timelines. It’s not always easy but if I write things down and schedule, them I’m more productive.
The Warrior Within
Tiffany knew that she had to adjust her reality in an instant when she found out about both heart conditions. It’s miraculous how we become the person we are meant to be, without ever thinking. She asked herself, what does my daughter need? What do I need to do to ensure my daughters survival? She had to fight everyday to make sure her daughters were getting the proper care, being that one person who truly knows what’s best.
When Tiffany was told her daughter wasn’t going to make it, she did not accept it. She fought everyday to defy those odds, and to prove the doctors wrong. Just because we are told something, it doesn’t mean that’s the way it is! We all have our own paths, and Tiffany created her own by becoming her Warrior within.
Whenever we encounter challenges, we must think about who we must become, and what must be done to crush our difficulties. Our priorities are our home and our families, and there is not a thing in this world that will stop us from protecting what we love.
Thank you Tiffany for sharing your story, and for inspiring us with the powerful Warrior that you are.
Read Nicole’s story next. Her family business crashes, and her assets repossessed. Find out how she powers through, and builds a new life for her family.