Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hope Is Kindled

Sam and I were married in May 2000. We wanted children immediately and we tried and waited for, what seemed to us, five long years. At the end of the fifth year, all the disappointments of our empty home compounded until we considered divorce. But Sam and I made amends, reordered our expectations of one another and just kept trying. Our hope for the future was restored. But it took a lot of work.

First, we found a wise marriage therapist. Then, we found a compassionate fertility specialist. We entered our sixth year together, rededicated to one another and pregnant. Because of hope, we now had our Esra, which in Arabic is loosely translated to mean "miraculous journey".

Mid-way through the pregnancy, we were told that Esra had the most severe form of Spina Bifida. She would never have a normal life, we were told. Because we were still within the legal window to abort, we were asked not once, but twice if that was our desire. We affirmed Esra's life by saying no both times and telling the doctors to never ask us again.

As the birth approached, more doctors came to us saying that Esra had a genetic disorder incompatible with life. She would most likely not survive the labor. We were advised to begin making preparations for her death. We did the opposite.  We proceeded with our life by making preparations for hers. We bought a home with a nursery. We unpacked.  We waited, cried, and prayed.

She came four weeks early. She lived. The team at Yale, in preparation to close the opening in her spine, found a serious heart defect. They did not think she would survive the week, but she did. She stayed on life support for eight weeks while heart, back and brain surgeries corrected her many birth defects.

But Esra persisted and thrived. She did the opposite what was predicted. At nine weeks old, she came home.  She has grown and so have we.

Life is beautiful.

Our life would be so different if we decided to divorce. Hope has made all the difference.

This hope is a buoy for my marriage and it silently directs me as a mother. It fills me with optimism. It works as an assurance that there are wonderful things ahead. One of those wonders came into our life in 2008. Her name is Estelle Marie from the Latin "Stella Maris" for "guiding star." She is our second child and a marvelous companion and friend to all of us. Because of these two miraculous girls, we know that step by step, hope is kindled, making brighter that guiding star that lights our path ahead.

I also know if I keep doing good and trying my best, this hope will overflow with all the bounty that the future holds. I am grateful for this moment, so I can see where I am and where I am going with my little family.
Image by Lewis Nicholson Portrait Design, Washington DC

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