With all that hope she had in her, Vanessa McLeod was sure that she was going to bring back home her daughter no matter what the doctors had to say about her vitality. Though she was told her daughter would be born with no hands, Vanessa prepared herself for what was coming and hoped to get some reassurance from her doctors. But when she and her husband walked into the hospital room with their hearts filled with hope, not once were they told that they would be able to give their daughter, Ivy a normal life.
When she shared her story on Love What Matters, Vanessa wrote, “I wish with all my heart that appointment had gone differently. That someone had told us it would be okay, that someone had told us how beautiful and perfect our little girl would be, that she would smile and giggle and live a life filled with so much love. I wish I knew then what I know now. I wish I could take away all the worry, pain, fear, and heartbreak I felt.”
Instead of getting answers from the doctors, she only found that the dream of parenting their second child was being shattered by their advice. “I was shocked when the doctor suggested we terminate. THAT had never crossed my mind, but here they were, offering it. When my husband and I started to express that we wanted to keep her, the medical geneticist said, briskly and brutally, ‘But think about her quality of life. She’s going to have no hands.'”
The couple was told that they didn’t have a better option than terminating the pregnancy and the two were left alone in the hospital room to reach a decision. Vanessa said, “The doctors had made me feel guilty for wanting to keep my baby, had made me doubt all my abilities as a mother to care for and nurture my baby.”
“What kind of life would I be giving her? Would she really have no quality of life? But as we had a moment of privacy, I remember looking at my husband, having so many questions and no answers.”
But the loving words of her husband were all that Vanessa needed to hear to believe that she was meant to bring Ivy into this world. “He so firmly, passionately, and emphatically said to me, ‘I’ll do whatever I have to do to take care of her. I’ll build her anything. I want her. I’ll do whatever it takes. I’ll take care of her for the rest of her life.’ And I knew in that moment, he was right,” the mother said.
“She was ours to love and protect, and we did already love her. And I knew, without a doubt, that with my husband by my side, we could do this. I had no idea what it would look like, but I knew this wasn’t the end.”
Vanessa refused to take the doctors’ advice and she walked out of the hospital that day, sobbing as she hugged her husband. Even though she was “paralyzed with fear and worry”, the young mother felt like her thoughts were slowly falling into place. “Things just started to make sense, they started to fit. It felt right. I felt like the Universe chose me, out of millions of mothers, to be Ivy’s mom. I even think she picked me herself,” she wrote. “She saw me and said, ‘Yes. I want her. I want HER to be my mommy.’”
“The Universe knew I would love her. That I would fight for her, advocate for her, and be everything she needed from a mother.”
However, with time, Vanessa noticed her perspective shift once more. “Instead of thinking that Ivy needed me, I started to realize that I’m the one who needs her,” Vanessa said. “She saw me and said, ‘Yes. She needs me. She needs me to be her daughter.’ It’s not Ivy who needs me. I need her because she completes me, completes my family, in ways I never realized. She’s a balm to my soul, a salve to past wounds. Ivy will teach me things I didn’t think I needed to know, or maybe didn’t want to know.”
Soon, Ivy was finally in her arms, safe and sound, proving that Vanessa and her husband made the best decision to keep her. Vanessa remembered the moment, saying, “Ivy surprised us all by coming 4 weeks early. She just couldn’t wait to join the world. Or maybe she knew that I needed her here, needed to be reassured that she was going to be okay… The moment I birthed her and held her in my arms, I felt so much peace. And when she opened her eyes and looked at me for the very first time, I knew she was exactly where she was meant to be.”
Little Ivy hasn’t been slow in crossing her baby milestones and hasn’t stopped rolling over since she started. “I wish I could send the videos of her rolling to the doctor who suggested we terminate,” Vanessa added. “I wish I could show her Ivy’s beautiful smile, and how it lights up not only her whole face, but the whole room. I wish that doctor could hear the magical sound of her giggles.”
What Vanessa hopes is to fill Ivy with all the confidence she needs to believe that she is perfect just the way she is. Vanessa said, “She’s mine. She was meant to be with me, and I was meant to be with her. And we fit so perfectly together.”