With Both Fear and Love, We Dove In

Kathleen Sullivan essays

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“You are a daring one.” the fortune teller said.

“Whenever there is an opportunity, you jump right in.”

It was the early 1990’s and I was at a local street fair. The psychic’s impression of me could not have been farther from the truth. I was getting ready to start college at a local school. I chose to stay close to home as I was scared of the alternative: taking a risk and jumping right in to a new life.

My personality had been that way since the day I was born. Shy, timid and reserved were three words that perfectly described me. I was never much of a risk taker.

When I met my husband back in 1998, neither one of us was in a rush. We were young and enjoying life. We were married in 2004. I always blamed it on my husband for dragging feet. However, it wasn’t just him.

Brian and I didn’t elect to have children right away. We were both unhappy at our jobs and wanted to focus on career changes. We needed money. We wanted a house. So, we waited.

On January 1, 2008, more than three years after marriage, we found out that we were expecting our first child. We still felt unprepared for the journey, but figured it was now or never. I was approaching my mid-thirties and my husband was a year from turning forty.

The excitement of carrying a child is unparalleled. As scary as it was, the happiness and joy is tremendous. We were in heaven. The time was now. It was meant to be.

At our twenty week anatomy scan, we eagerly anticipated the gender reveal. Instead, we were hit with a bombshell: our baby boy had a severely underdeveloped left ventricle. We were heartbroken.

When a child falls ill, it is quite common for the parents to blame themselves. I immediately thought about the time wasted in starting our family. Did we wait too long? Should we have taken the plunge sooner?

When a child dies, the same occurs. We wondered what we could have done to prevent it. We would have done anything.

Our introduction into parenthood was not easy. By contrast, it was devastating and tragic. In the end, we wouldn’t have traded Liam for anything. He was our world.

After our horrendous loss, we were faced with another decision. Should we have another? This time, we jumped right in without hesitation. Thirteen months later, we gave birth to our precious daughter.

In our present lives, we continue to have challenges. We are now parents to both a five year old girl and three year old boy. I want many things for my children. I want them to be happy. I want them to enjoy life. I want them to take the risks that I may not have taken. However, I also want them to gentle with themselves when things do not go as planned. To forgive themselves when they miss an opportunity. To learn from any mistakes. In life, they will need to be able to expect the unexpected.

Last month, the kids and I stopped by our local playground. It was warm and the sprinklers had been turned on unexpectedly. I was unprepared with no bathing suits. That didn’t faze them at all and they begged to jump right in. And so they did.


About the Author

Kathleen Sullivan

I am a freelance writer whose work has been published on: Huffington Post, The Mid, xojane, and Mommyish. I am also the author and creator of my own blog .

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July 2015 – Dive In
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