When my daughter was just a couple months old, my husband and I took her to see a geneticist at one of the top children’s hospitals in the country. She had been born two months early with heart defects and other abnormalities, and while weeks of blood tests ruled out the basics, her doctors recommended further evaluation. For hours the doctors and technicians positioned our naked, shivering, screaming infant as they took x-ray after x-ray, thirteen in total, imploring us to straighten her legs and hold her still on the hard table. In the end they found…nothing. They suggested that she come back for more tests when she was older and we politely declined.
I will never forget the moment I shared with my husband as we stepped onto the elevator to leave those offices. Looking down at my feet with my daughter held close to me, I whispered, “We’re never doing this again. We’re never having more children.” My weary husband replied, “I know.” After weeks and weeks of the most difficult days I will likely ever know, something broke in me that day.
Somehow time heals wounds and while it doesn’t make us forget, it somehow gives us hope. As one by one my friends began to build their large families and as my love for my daughter grew exponentially, astounding me with its ability to take my breath away, we made the terrifying decision to try again. We had no idea if our amazing eighteen month old, finally beginning to walk and having the most incredible little conversations with us, would someday be diagnosed with a genetic disorder. We didn’t know if I would again suffer hyperemesis gravidarum or if I would be able to carry a child to term. All we knew was that our love for our daughter was such a blessing that we could not pass up the chance to multiply it times two, to provide her with a sibling, to grow our family. One miscarriage, several weeks of bedrest, eight months and an emergency c-section later our second NICU baby arrived, somehow filling our lives with even more love just when we couldn’t believe it was possible.
This is the pain of parenting. Love so intense that your heart nearly breaks. Decisions that overwhelm. Fear. Anguish. And yes…hope.
My daughter is growing and we are faced with another important decision for her medical future. The weight falls nearly all on my shoulders and at times it threatens to crush me. But this is what we accept when making the decision to fill our lives with the absolute joy of children. We cannot have one without the other.
And in the end, we wouldn’t have it any other way…