Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Definition of Family

Kalvin & Cooper
Meet Cooper and Kalvin, my boys.  There is no greater joy I get than coming home to them.  Sure, they drive me crazy at times, but they also can be the sweetest part to my day. 

My "family" doesn't look like the usual definition, but it is the one I know and love.  Take a moment and think about your family.   What is your definition of family? A dog? 3 kids? 5 cats? Your spouse or life partner?

The Question
I am at the prime age when people ask: "Do you have children?" or "When are you and Mark having a baby?"  I honestly don't mind being asked these questions, but in my mind the answers are so much more complex than the simple response they are expecting.  The answers are deeply buried in guilt, remorse, and heartache. 

"Family" Photo
The thick mucus caused by Cystic Fibrosis also affects the reproductive system: making it difficult for women with CF to become pregnant, and nearly impossible for men with CF to father a child.  Even if a woman with CF does become pregnant, the pregnancy itself, and the high risks involved with CF for both mom and baby are always of great concern. Infection, lung function, and nutrition for mom and baby are serious matters.  The exhaustion that also comes along with having a baby and caring for its constant needs can put the health of the person with CF at great risk as well.  

Have I thought about having a baby? Giving Mark a family? Leaving a part of me behind for when I am gone? Yes, lots.  Especially in the last year and half when the realities of CF have hit me so hard and made me face the future.  I am stubborn and driven as they come when I am challenged, but I know deep inside that I can't have a baby. I know physically these lungs will not let me and the extreme toll it would take on my body.  Also, I think about the future and the reality of leaving Mark as a single parent and a child without a mother.  My heart breaks when I am checking myself in at the hospital and I see a couple checking in to have their baby.  I often think, "they're going to leave the hospital as a new family; how excited they must be for the future" My heart also breaks when I am laying in a hospital bed having a PICC line inserted and the "lullaby" song plays over the PA system to announce a baby has been born. I lay there and think about how different life could be, I think of Mark, I think of never experiencing that joy with him, and how he would be a great dad.

I am surrounded by the most beautiful of friends and their growing families.  I am so lucky to be a part of their lives and to experience having a baby and raising children through them: from the excitement of being pregnant, to their first soccer game.  Being a part of their lives means more than they'll ever know.  Thank you for making Mark and I a part of each of your families.

My "family" may not look like the usual definition, but that's what makes it so beautiful: each of you.  I will live gratefully for the "family" I have been given.   Love to you all. 

What is your definition of "family?"


  1. Beautiful post, Ashley! Again, your honesty and vulnerability in your writing is so refreshing and inspiring. Keep writing, no worries about the "heaviness" ...we will keep reading . . .learning and being blessed by you.

    1. Thank you, Becky! It truly means so much to me that you follow the blog. I will be the first to say that writing has never been my "forte." I am so grateful for the support. All the best to you!

  2. Your blog is so wonderfully insightful and vulnerable, thanks for sharing! Plus, your family is adorable and surely full of the richest love...what breed are Kalvin and Cooper?

    1. Thank you so much for reading: it truly means so much! Cooper is a mini goldendoodle and Kalvin is a cockapoo. They are quite the pair! All the best to you!

  3. We should really get our boys together!