May 27 at 3:51 p.m., my daughter gave birth to a beautiful son, Elijah Gregory–Eli for short. I was fortunate enough to share in the experience with her and her husband and at the moment of Eli’s birth, my daughter weep tears of joy, as did I.
The decision to have a child was not easy for her. Though she does not have MS, she has a chronic health condition that has dominated her life (and mine) since she was five years old. The condition has required multiple medication adjustments, much lost time from school and work, and interfered on more occasions than I can remember, with being able to enjoy plans made. It made her different from her peers, which created many difficulties for her as a teen. There have been many tears and many discussions about the quality of her life…but we made it through those times. Her condition is now controlled on medication that she must take every day for the rest of her life and it still is a factor in all her decisions but she has matured into a beautiful and kind young woman, with a deep sense of responsibility, and wisdom beyond her young years. She is very fortunate in that she also has a very devoted husband who is unbelievably understanding and supportive of her. Now he has taken over my role as her “rock” and together they face their future.
I share all this as background for her decision to have Eli. She knew her pregnancy would be difficult and there was a risk that the medications she was on could cause birth defects (thankfully that does not seem to have happened) so she worked with her doctors to prepare her body, her mind, and her spirit to take on the challenge of having a child. For her, that decision was the right one but for some people with chronic health conditions, the prospect of reproducing and sentencing a child to the same possible condition is not something they can do. Neither decision is wrong; both decisions are right…for those individuals.
As for my daughter, she has a strong faith in God and has learned to rely on Him to help her through the difficulties of this life. Though she certainly does not want to invite hardship, she also knows that her strength comes from the courage He has given her. Her life experiences, though very difficult, have prepared her to face what may be ahead since she probably won’t know if Eli has had her same condition for several years yet. However, if he does develop it, who better to help him through it than his mother who can not only empathize but coach him on how to cope with it? That is true for any person thinking about having a child that might inherit a serious condition. There are some conditions, that I am sure would cause her (and me, too, if faced with the choice) to decide to adopt. In fact, she may decide to do that next time. But it’s okay either way.
My step-son knows that he may very well develop MS as he gets older. His father and grandfather both had it so his changes are significant. When he asked his girlfriend to marry him, she and I talked about their having children. They are fully aware of the risk of inheritance and that he may end up like his father but we also know that new medications and treatments are always in development. BECAUSE of his father, he’s prepared. He knows what things seem to reduce the risk and what to stay away from; he knows the symptoms and when to seek evaluation; he will know what to do if the time comes that he has to face the prospect. Plus, like with my daughter, he will know that his father and I are here to help out anyway was can and that God will bless them whatever the decision regarding children may be.
I believe that each challenge we face in our lives prepares us for what lies ahead. We gain strength, knowledge, and courage with each obstacle we overcome. Life is hard…no doubt about it. I truly wish and have prayed often that these burdens be removed from Lynn and from my daughter and that He would protect our other children from them as well. However, I know that we are not alone. I know that this time on earth for us is like a speck of dust compared to eternity in heaven. I know that although we have trials and difficulties and get depressed and hurt that I love this life we have. I feel so blessed to be married to Lynn and to have two wonderful children of my own and an awesome stepson. I love the partners my children have chosen to share their lives with. I can’t wait to spend time with my grandson and to share with him all we have learned that might be helpful to him on his journey through life.
I am very thankful my parents decided to give me life. I am very thankful that God blessed my decision to have children. And now I’m thankful that God has given my daughter the courage to face the unknown and to share her love and commitment to Christ and to her family with a child.
Yes, for me and my family, having children is truly a blessing for which we are thankful.