Would I have the Heart?

Four years ago, when Anthony and I began to really discuss having children, the big question that needed to be answered was whether or not my heart would be strong enough to withstand the stress of a pregnancy.  Although many women with congenital heart disease successfully carry babies, we spoke to my cardiologist to weigh the risks, which were the same for me as they are for others like me:

  • During pregnancy, the heart must beat faster and stronger to support the fetus growing below it, which puts an extra strain on the heart.  For a person with congenital heart disease, this strain could mean damage to a heart that is already not entirely healthy.  Any surgery the patient may have needed in the future may be needed sooner.
  • Because of hormone changes and other factors of pregnancy, the likelihood of the heart entering an arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats) becomes higher for any woman. The probability increases more if one has a history of arrhythmia, which is a common occurrence in congenital heart disease patients.
  • Many women with congenital heart disease take medications that can be harmful to a fetus.  Before becoming pregnant, then, one must come off these medications and her body must adjust to new ones.

These were just some of the risks explained to me and Anthony.  The way we saw it:  my heart may have been strong enough to endure a pregnancy, but we didn’t want that pregnancy to mean any further health issues for me that would keep me from caring for and raising the baby that came out of it.

So we would adopt.  But even though I knew my heart wouldn’t be put under physical strain this way, I still worried about its capabilities.  As many hopeful adoptive mothers wonder, I asked myself, “Could I love a baby that wasn’t biologically mine?”

During the fourteen months in which we waited to find our baby, I tested myself whenever I could.  When my best friend gave birth to her daughter, I stood at the hospital window studying the sleeping bundles behind the glass: one boy with messy reddish hair and chubby cheeks, a tiny mocha-skinned girl with long eyelashes.  I looked at each of their brand new faces, and asked “Could I love him? Or her? What about that one over there?” Although I thought the answer was yes, I still wasn’t sure.

When we flew to Georgia to meet a prospective birthmother, whose child we did not ultimately adopt, we met her other children.  The youngest was a one-and-half-year-old girl with white blonde hair, tiny teeth, and blue eyes.  We took a picture; I stood next Anthony as he held her on his hip. Once we were home, I stared at the picture daily.  “What if this was our baby?” I thought.  “Would I love her enough?”

I read adoption magazines, forums, and books during those fourteen months too.  When they each assured me that I would indeed love my baby, I sighed deeply and closed my eyes in relief.  But I still wasn’t sure.

 

I still wasn’t sure when the phone rang hours after Rosemarie was born.  I wasn’t sure as our plane landed and during the drive to the hospital.

 

 

Even when we entered the Labor and Delivery Ward and the nurses yelled, “Mommy and Daddy are here!”, I still wasn’t sure.  I wasn’t even sure the first time I laid eyes on her, on her tiny 5 lb. body in a pink stretchy covered in elephants.  I felt warmth, relief, excitement, but did I feel love?

A half hour later, the nurses led us to our own hospital room and wheeled Rosemarie’s bassinet in behind us.  For the next few hours, we were alone with her.  We changed her diapers; we fed her a tiny bottle of formula.  We tapped her back gently after each 1/2 ounce. When darkness fell, we put her in the bassinet to wheel her back to the nursery.

                                       

My socked feet soundlessly stepped forward with my hands on the rim of her clear bassinet.  I pushed her through the door of our room and entered the hallway.  And there it was.  Suddenly and overwhelmingly.  I couldn’t be more sure.  I loved her.

My heart, the one I had doubted, ached with the thought of leaving her, not knowing if she was definitely going to be mine.  It ached with the love I didn’t know I could feel.

Did I have the heart? The answer was a resounding YES! A yes that should be screamed from a mountaintop while trumpets blow, and confetti falls, and maybe even some angels sing.

My heart could love her.  I could love her.  I do love her and I always will.

 

 


40 thoughts on “Would I have the Heart?

  1. Perfect way to start Kimberly! Even though I had my son biologically, I didn’t have that instant overwhelming love. It came later. When it did it felt like when the Grinch’s heart swelled up. I really believe that biologically or not, babies find their way to their parents. Can’t wait to read more from you:)

  2. Kim ~ this is beautiful! I can already tell that this could be such an inspiration to others following the same path as you! (And my pregnancy hormones hate you!) 😉

  3. This was a beautiful story of love btwn mother and daughter…. Brought tears to my eyes. Your baby girl is so lucky to have you as i am sure you are to have her!!

  4. Well written Kimmy!, I think this blog is a really great thing for you to write and I’m sure this will definitely help many other potential moms out there who are looking to go down this road. I’m glad that you and Anthony have your bundle of joy to love.

    TP

  5. What a beautiful way to document your journey to motherhood. I think you stated every woman’s doubts and joys as they enter the unknown and wonderful world of motherhood. With my second baby on the way, I find myself wondering, will I love her as much as I love Noelle and how will that work? Everyone tells me, it just happens and I believe it. Thank you for sharing your story and Rosie is a lucky girl!

    • Kate,
      I’m so glad you could relate to this post. I guess we can’t fully understand things until they happen to us. Thanks for the comment.

  6. I knew before we met her that Rosemarie would be the love of your life. I have always said that carrying a child and caring for a child are two completely different things. When you are
    carrying a child you have the same apprensions. (you know I dont spell very well lol). I felt the same warmth and excitment that you described but I didnt know how much I could love someone as much as I did you and your sisters and Michele and Robbie. So you see, it doesnt mean anything if you give birth to a child or if you care and nuture that child. You love them the same. There is no difference. Believe me, I have done both.

  7. I absolutely love reading what you write. Its always so beautiful.
    And thank you for making me join the world of blogging. This is the first
    Blog I have ever read and replied to!! Lol.
    Keep up the good work!!!

  8. You are an excellent writer, instead of a blog this should be a book. When I got to the end I wanted to hear more about your story. Although you could probably tell this story to people your writing made me and I’m sure all of the other readers really able to connect with you!

  9. Kimberly, this is beyond beautiful and touching! You are an amazingly brave woman to share your story and emotions with the world. However, it doesn’t come as a surprise to me because you have been brave since the day I met you at 6-years-old. I know you will be an inspiration to many people, just as you have been to me all my life. I know you worked VERY hard on the name and logo of this blog and I love it – I love you! Xoxo

  10. My goodness Kim you have me in tears over here. Your words are amazing as is your heart. I look forward to keeping up with your blog and I am sure many more tears as I read it.

  11. What a beautiful story 🙂 You made me cry reading through it (yes, I’m hormonal…that what week 34 has brought to my life!). I would have never questioned if you could love her – you are a person filled with love and had no doubt you would love any child you cared for and mother. The minute you become a mother, you start to love them. That moment is different for everyone…adoptive parent or biological one…but it happens and it is the greatest feeling in the world! Can’t wait to read more 🙂

  12. I’m crying. I want to read more, and love that this blog will help me procrastinate. This is a much better read than law. And again crying. xo

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