Little boy playing with a dandilion on a hillside. 
For years… for many, many years… I was dead set against ever having kids. ME ever having kids. From my own body.

I had all sorts of great excuses: Too busy working on my career. Too selfish. Little League ball games and soccer leagues are terrible boring torture. I didn’t want the stretch marks. Birth is a bloody, awful, painful mess. I could go on. But I won’t. They all boiled down to one single thing. 

I was terrified. 

I was afraid of loving something that fiercely and then having to let go.

One day, I discovered that I was pregnant. It was a shock to be sure but truthfully, at this stage in my life, I was getting careless. Hasn’t happened yet, it probably won’t…..

Well, it did.

I felt like this baby was probably going to be a girl. I dreamed of pink for weeks, imagined all of the beautiful frilly dresses I would buy.

But it wasn’t a girl.

Life does not always hand us what we expect. 

Not only did the ultrasound show a very clear penis, it also showed something was wrong with one of his kidneys. So it was off to to the maternal fetal medicine specialist for the high risk screening and to hear if everything else was ok.

A quick word of advice here. Never, ever, ever listen to a genetic counselor before you have that high level ultrasound. Wait until after. I have a degree in genetics and she had me ready to bury the kid before he even reached his third trimester….

Now, one of the risks of being a physician is that you get over treated: She knows what we are doing! We can’t play smoke and mirrors. So let’s do EVERYTHING! 

It is very hard when you are struggling to not be THAT bad patient, the difficult one who thinks they know everything. I had resolved that I would not worry, or interfere, that I would let everyone do their jobs. In the end that meant high level ultrasounds every two weeks, crazy amounts of blood work, and a consultation with pediatric urology before he was born. All while working full time in a solo practice by myself. 


In the end, he is fine. It was like winning the lottery, this kid. Who knew how cool having kids would be? In the end, it was good that he had such a troubled beginning. The possibility that I might lose him made me want him all the more and forced me stop focusing on all of my doubt and fear.

Which then brings me to the point that babies are such little miracles. Every last one of them. There is so, so much that can go wrong. Every single one of those cells has to perform its part of the ballet exactly perfect at exactly the right time or the whole thing gets screwed up beyond recognition. From a purely clinical standpoint, it is a miracle that more does not go wrong given all of the opportunities for errors. 

In the process of all of this, however, I discovered the secret miracle. Kids are the embodiment of our love. Even when they puke on us (God help me). Or wipe snot on my sleeve. Or give us strep. Or hit that perfectly painful howling pitch that leaves the ears ringing for a few minutes (How do they do that?). They give you a hug or a kiss on the cheek and everything else melts away… It even makes Little League baseball and unpleasant patients tolerable. 

Sneaky little buggers…


92 thoughts on “Surprised 

  1. Like you, I was late to the party, but oh, what a party when it finally happened. Life’s longing for itself…💕 Mine was a bit of fear, but a lot of resentment. With younger siblings, and being over-utilized in their upbringing, I felt like I’d already been a mother. Was not anxious to start over. So glad I got over it. My life was so much better.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Before my third child was born, I had a blood test which came back positive for Down’s Syndrome, and I have a cousin with that condition. Hubby and I debated the wisdom of having a child we might not be able to care for, but then decided we would deal with it somehow. I started researching special schools, etc. After all, lots of people of Down’s babies and manage just fine.

    When the baby was born, the hospital pediatrician examined her and then came to me. He could not understand why I was so terrified – turns out there was absolutely nothing wrong with that baby, she was perfect in every way. The pediatrician at the hospital was not the same pediatrician who had seen the blood test results, so he had no idea what I dealt with those last few weeks. He explained that the particular blood test I had undergone had quite a high incidence of false positives. I wasn’t sure if I should be angry with the medical community for putting me through that worry, or merely grateful that the baby was normal. I opted for grateful.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a very similar story, but while I dreamed of a boy, I got a girl! And she, too (at least so far) seems okay. It was more *me* that had the health issues through the pregnancy–low progesterone, preeclampsia, etc.–but like you, it made me focus on how badly I really did want her. There wasn’t time for fear about how I’d be as a mother when all I cared about was keeping my daughter alive and healthy. And it turns out, that’s one of the main things a mother is supposed to do.

    I never comment on your posts because you usually have so many others with more important things to say to you, but I wanted to say, if this is my opportunity, that I enjoy reading so much what it’s like from your perspective, not just as a doctor, but as a human being. I don’t always agree with you, but I always respect your take on things.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hey Victo,

    Wonderfully written and heart-meltingly tender…you are so very proud of him and rightly so 🙂

    The photograph has the enchantment and timeless appeal of a cherished memory and portrays the sweetness of childhood beautifully.

    Enjoy your evening 🙂


    DN – 16/09/2015

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a beautiful little boy. I understand the angst given that I wasn’t sure if I wanted children and then medically couldn’t. After many years I have come to accept that it was probably a good thing given my health problems. I was a nanny after college and I will always have those special memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I too was (for those days) an “elderly primapara.” Raising the two children was absolutely the very best part of my life, even though other things were going wrong in it at the time. I felt entirely complete while they were home with me. Enjoy every single minute…..

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post! Another tempting and thought-provoking moment for a childless, thirty-something such as myself. You’re right, those little blessings are something else! I’ve never been anti-kid but they sure have a way of digging themselves into your heart in an instant which often comes to me while waiting in lines at stores in the form of a playful wink or smile. May the best of luck and achievement follow them all.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. From an early age I wanted children and still can’t believe how lucky I am to have had four and all healthy and alive.
    I loved that time before becoming pregnant, imagining the life I was going to create and the magic of being able to give them the gift of life, something I no longer take for granted.
    This was a lovely heartfelt post and perfectly illustrates that from the earliest days we worry for our little ones, often unnecessarily.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pregnancy is such a vulnerable and emotional time to begin with – dealing with the fear and anxiety you had would be so much worse. How wonderful that it was a mistake after all!

    Parenthood is such a complex mix of bittersweet emotions. They change you irrevocably the moment you hold them for the first time. Mine are now 30 and 27 and the fullness of my heart hasn’t changed a smidge from the day they were born.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. During pregnancy I could not get over the fact that my body and the little life inside of me together were dancing this delicate and orchestrated dance of putting a human body together with such perfection…it sure is nothing short the best kind of miracle…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I still don’t want kids – I’m terrified I’ll be a “bad” mother, who will abuse or emotionally neglect them.

    My mother had her own unresolved stuff which would make her explode in violent rage when I triggered her. I feel the same difficult to control rage simmering within me (I’m a very passive woman, but I’ve punched people) and fear I’d lose control on my kid(s), if I ever give birth / adopt / foster.

    I know losing your cool at your kid, especially when they’re screaming in a tantrum happens to every one, but I’m terrified I might consistently lose my cool, or beat my children in a rage like my parents. I was also raised by parents who believe in physical discipline (which my therapist considers “excessive” as it isn’t a couple of swats with a switch) “to break the child’s will”, so I’m clueless on positive parenting. I’m so scared I’ll not feel “the maternal bond” should I ever birth / adopt / foster kids.

    The thought of parenting seems as scary and daunting as scaling Mount Everest to me – there seems so many ways to fuck your kids up so they’ll need therapy for years!

    I think you are a lovely mum! Reading about your kids brings a smile to my face!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I carry a lot of the same baggage you do. It helps me to know that there is no possible way to NOT screw up your kids. It is inevitable. When I first held my son, there were no angels singing. No hallelujahs. I thought he was pretty handsome but I was not head over heels like some moms. I loved him, sure but the overwhelming love came with time. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Oh, that gives me some hope – that the overwhelming love will come with time. 🙂

        I know the best thing I can do for myself and the potential future generation (in case I become a parent or aunt! 🙂 ) is to work on myself, so as to be less prone to repeating the past.

        You’ve definitely seem to have overcome your baggage! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  12. You had me melting all over the place on my end, Doc! Lump in throat. I do not have children … not of my own choosing. Presently I am having so much FUN with a 3 year old who lives next door to me. We have our own private language, we laugh, we run after the other, we draw on the driveway with chalk, and when he is tired, I hold him and sing to him. Yup, I know what kids can do. They turn us to mush. And yes this child has such a high pitched yell I swear I cannot hear a dang thing for about 30 seconds afterwards. LOL ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  13. When I was expecting and read all Ina May Gaskin, and all kinds of home birth books and movies, went to interview my midwife, asking all kinds of questions, she looks at me alarmingly, and says: are you a physician? 🙂 I had to assure her I was not, but she was not very convinced. I surely did know what I wanted and mostly what I did not want. 🙂 Your story reminded me of that, which I had completely forgotten after all these sleepless years.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I thought of having kids as a life choice, kind of like a “check it off your list” kind of thing, then I miscarried at 20 weeks. Then I knew for sure I wanted to be a mom. When asked if I wanted a boy or girl, I told people that I wanted a child with a correctable birth defect.
    I had no idea it would be so much fun and that my life would be so enriched. Yep, the teen years were interesting, but, I wouldn’t change a thing.


  15. With my first, I had it all planned out, only unlike you, I was sure I would love the kid 100% immediately with no doubts or difficulties. At 20 weeks, during the first ultrasound, we learned we were having twin boys, and all that planning went out the window as, even though I was only 28 years old, my pregnancy was considered high risk. At 37 weeks, another ultrasound indicated the boys’ low weights were cause for concern (I felt like screaming: I am small, just how much room do you think is in there?) The more in depth ultrasound revealed there was nothing wrong with the cords and the babies were getting sufficient nutrients. A week later, I was induced, and met my beautiful, perfect sons, weighing between 5 and 6 pounds each. But, I didn’t fall in love instantly, or, I did, but forefront in my mind was worry and fear and exhaustion. I refused to admit I had postpartum depression until fifteen months later, I stopped sleeping (my body’s way of forcing me to deal with it.) But, twelve years later, my sons are best friends, the sweetest kids ever, thoughtful, smart and so sweet the melt my heart.


    Liked by 1 person

  16. I didn’t want kids, either. I’m ill-equipped to raise children. One of the reasons I married my wife was because she said she didn’t want children. Then she changed her mind. And because I love her, we had children. I was okay with one but she wanted two. So we have two. They are a blessing, as you say. But sometimes, I miss my independence. I think it’s different for men. I think it’s got something to do with biology.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Which then brings me to the point that babies are such little miracles. Every last one of them. There is so, so much that can go wrong. Every single one of those cells has to perform its part of the ballet exactly perfect at exactly the right time or the whole thing gets screwed up beyond recognition. From a purely clinical standpoint, it is a miracle that more does not go wrong given all of the opportunities for errors.

    A perfect explanation for those who have beaten themselves up over a birth defect.
    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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