“You proved us wrong today, that’s something we don’t say very often.”
As the young resident doctor spoke these words to me two and a half years ago in Ava’s hospital room, I cried hot tears of relief mixed with anger and frustration. I WAS RIGHT! If I had a football around at the time, I would have ran to an imaginary end zone and spiked it. I felt like I had just scored the biggest touchdown of our lives.
How did I prove them wrong? It turned out that our three-month-old, Ava, didn’t have the rare gastrointestinal disorder they suspected she could have, which would have necessitated the PICC line that they were pushing me to let them place in her. That PICC line was a big and invasive step that had the potential for great complications, especially when they were so unsure about her even having the disorder. And I fought them on it. Hard.
I made it clear I would not allow it to be placed without more conclusive tests, and that they needed to give her even just one more day to improve in her weight gain, before we would consider having them place the line. And she did just that. She improved. She gained weight. In just that one day! And as the days passed, her improvement continued. But I’ll be honest. It wasn’t always pretty, my fighting for Ava. I stood up to doctors who didn’t like me questioning them, and I demanded second opinions, which made me popular amongst some of the medical professionals and wildly unpopular amongst others.
I like to think I earned my darkest, fiercest Mama Tiger stripes in that hospital. I never knew I was capable of the advocacy that I engaged in for Ava (and I have spent most of my adult life advocating in one capacity or another as a social worker and pro-life activist). Although, truth be told, I didn’t know before this whole ordeal just how hard so many parents have to fight for their children in medical cases.
The plight of Charlie Gard and his family has hit home to so many of us not only because of our wishes to have his life respected through medical care being provided to him and his parents’ wishes being followed, but because we have walked in similar shoes to his parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard. Although we may not have experienced the multitude of difficulties and suffering that Connie and Chris have, and their precious Charlie, many of us know what it’s like to fight for our children, those with disabilities and the sick and aged within our own families. If we were to reduce this to a hashtag, I think it would look like this: #wearethegards
We fight. For those closest to us and those we may never know. After all of my fighting, those doctor’s words were my redemption that frosty December morning. I. WAS. RIGHT.
I had longed for those words over the course of a nearly month long hospital stay that was fraught with unexpected and difficult twists and turns in our tiny baby’s life, disagreements amongst medical professionals and even between them and me, as I shared at the beginning, about what was happening and what the best course of action was. So I held those words ‘you proved us wrong’ and the experiences that led up to them close to my heart in the days, months, and now years that followed. But as the days of caring for Ava and her complex medical needs unfolded, I had forgotten largely about them. That is, until the statement by Connie Yates, Charlie’s mom, was shared today.
“The last 11 nearly 12 months have been the best, the worst and ultimately life changing months of our lives, but Charlie is Charlie and we wouldn’t change him for the world. All our efforts have been for him. We are about to do the hardest thing that we’ll ever have to do, which is to let our beautiful little Charlie go.”
We often pray that the Lord break our heart with what breaks His. Mine broke again today over not only Charlie’s fate, but the fight and fate of his parents. They fought. Valiantly. And with grace. I honestly don’t know if I could have handled myself with the grace that they have, as their lives have become a media sensation in the midst of a terrible tragedy.
So many have been praying for Charlie to be saved through medical care being provided to him, but as the days unfold, I ask you to join me in praying not only for Charlie, but for his parents, Chris and Connie, fellow fighter parents who I so much relate to, and the medical professionals who have cared for Charlie over the last eleven months. Think about how many of them wish that they could have told Charlie’s parents that they had proved them wrong, just like that resident did with me.
Chris and Connie, you may never have been able to prove to the medical professionals that they were wrong about Charlie, but I can honestly tell you that you’ve proven to so many of us in the pro-life community, many of us as parents who fight similar battles for our children, that you were very much right. Right to love. Right to fight. Right in your very difficult and personal decision to end the fight for experimental medical care for Charlie.