When I was pregnant I would daydream about meeting my child for the first time. I would think of all the wonderful things we would do together as a family.

In preparation, my husband and I got the house ready, talked about the future, and developed our own aspirations for this child. I couldn’t wait to be a mom. I thought about what it would look like when he took his first step, said his first word, ate his first vegetable, told me he loved me for the first time. I wondered if he’d play football like his dad or be a runner like his mom.

But my son never became the son I’d imagined.

When Asher entered the world he wasn’t breathing and he was unresponsive. He had to be resuscitated before his heart started to beat on its own. Medical records said the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck cutting off oxygen during labor and delivery. Within minutes of delivery he was taken to the NICU. I didn’t even get to see him or hold him.

Moments later I was told there was a high probability he wouldn’t make it and, if he did, that he’d be severely affected due to the nature of the brain injury.

Later that day, as I leaned over his small body hooked-up to what seemed like hundreds of monitors, I was flooded with emotions of fear and sadness, not the elation I once dreamed of.

What had happened?

Over the next few months we, his family, cared for our hurt child and knew that no matter what, we would make tremendous sacrifices for him. Even though most of it was a guessing game, we spent every waking second considering the monumental size of the issues we faced. We saw this journey as an unbelievable challenge. The pain and worry consumed our thoughts. We were grieving over the son we thought we would have and we worried about the future of the son we now held in our arms.

Our son has been poked and prodded and diagnosed with words most people outside the medical world have never heard: hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, spasticity, dystonia, laryngomalacia, dysphagia, bilateral vocal cord paralysis, cortical visual impairment, epilepsy, and cerebral palsy. These cause all kinds of challenges in his day-to-day activities. He sees therapists every week in hopes of making progress. He sees multiple doctors every month to monitor his development. At two years of age, he is unable to crawl, sit-up, walk, talk, or eat anything by mouth. He is classified as severe and depends on us for everything.

No one ever dreams this life for their son. I never imagined he’d be medically fragile and face so many challenges. It wasn’t my plan for him. In my mind, I had written a different story. I’ve experienced sadness, despair, emptiness, and a sense of hopelessness many days. But the more I’ve prayed, leaned on God, and got to know my son, the more God opened my eyes to this story of change. Slowly my heart and thoughts have transformed.

No longer do I view our hurt child as a challenge, but as a marvelous gift. My husband and I get to be the gift keepers. God, well, He’s the gift maker and story writer. He made my son beautifully and is choosing to tell His story through Asher. In this story He teaches us about unconditional love, the abundance of grace, the beauty of our existence, what really matters, and the meaning of a selfless life – things I may not have truly grasped had Asher’s life been different. Some days I still struggle accepting this story, but as God opens my heart and teaches me along the way, I know I will find the greatest Peace.

My son may never take his first step, or say his first word, or eat food like you and I. And while my son is not the son I imagined on those days when I was preparing for his arrival, he is even better. He is the most amazing person I’ve ever met. He inspires me and everyone that knows him to be a better person.

In my eyes he is the closest thing to God’s love I’ve ever experienced.

Cindy, 33
Memphis, TN

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