“Daddy said I should ask you about new medicine you are getting.”
Being mindful of my stepdaughter’s (age 7) hopes for my health, I say in as neutral of a tone as I can manage, “Well, you know that medicine I spent a lot of time learning about? How I had all those binders of papers? We don’t know for sure if it will work, but–“
“YOU GOT THE MEDICINE! THIS MEANS WE MIGHT GET TO HAVE A BABY!!” she shrieks before dancing out of the room.
Eek! I quickly contemplate the situation in my head. Is it wrong to confirm it might put us on the path to adding to our family? Should I fib and say my only hope is this medicine will allow me more time with the family I already have? She has been asking for a sibling since she was tiny. As the reality of my health situation set in over the past 5 years, the response slowly changed from, “After Daddy and I are married,” to “When I am healthy enough to have a baby and take care of him/her.”
I decide no, it isn’t wrong for her to know we hope this medicine allows us to eventually have more kids. Since it is something that affects her life too, I have always been open with her about my health in an age appropriate way. She knows I have been wanting to try a new medication, although we never said it had anything to do with babies.
Fortunately she didn’t notice my pause to think because she was busy dancing. Feeling somewhat confident with my decided approach, I finally responded, “Wouldn’t having a baby be great? This medicine might mean that will happen, but it might not. The medicine may not work, or I might feel a little better, but not well enough for a baby. What I’m happy about is that I get to try this medicine and find out. I only get to try it because I’m very stubborn like you. What’s important is that whatever happens, we will be okay.”
“I know that,” she tells me. She is still twirling in circles, swirling her arms about. In a dreamy voice she says, “I hope it’s a boy! No. A girl! Your favorite name is Ava, then Ella, right? I love Ella. Ella Grace sounds really pretty. But baby boys are really cute, so I don’t know!”
Despite our concern about false hopes, my husband and I can’t help but smile at each other as we listen to her dream out loud. It’s our dream too. There was a time when it wasn’t something we dreamt about; we took the ability to have more kids for granted. Now, we take nothing to do with us as a family of three – holiday traditions, trips to the park, parties – for granted.
Loving the moment, but not wanting her to have false hopes, I reiterate, “I want to make sure you know this medicine might not work at all. I might try it and stay how I am now. If I can have a baby, it will be more than a year from now before I’m ready for a baby in my belly. That means at least 2 years until there would be a baby, if there is one.”
She stops dancing, and in a serious tone explains, “I know all that. I know you might not ever have a baby because you need to be healthy enough to take care of my brother or sister. I don’t care though. I want to talk about it anyway because I want a sibling SO bad, and I’m excited that now maybe it will happen someday.”
Ouch, my heart! Talk about bittersweet!
“Just checking,” I tell her, “… and you remembered right. I love the names Ava and Ella for girls. What do you think?”
“I love them!” she declares before resuming her dance.