A mother's letter to her unborn child, after being diagnosed with a disabling disease
Rochester, N.Y. - A Rochester mother put her thoughts into words after learning she had a disabling disease which caused her doctors to discourage her from having another child.
Erika Dooley, 33, enjoys painting at the dining room table with her two-and-a-half-year-old son, Miles, after supper. It's a creative activity that can get messy, a reality the elementary school teacher is learning about life.
In 2016, Dooley's vision suddenly began to fail. She was fatigued, and even simply walking became a challenge.
“Anytime I shared some of my symptoms with a friend or a fellow mom, it was always, 'That happens when you breast feed,' or, 'That’s a new mom thing,'" Dooley explained.
That was not the case for Dooley. She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the body's nervous system.
“It was hard. It was crushing," said Dooley, after learning about her diagnosis.
“No matter how much I want to take it away, I can't,." said her husband of nearly seven years, Tom Dooley. “There was a period after the diagnosis where we both thought the future that we both had envisioned for ourselves wouldn’t happen."
Those future plans included growing their family. A former doctor advised her not to get pregnant again.
“There’s a perception that if you get pregnant, your MS will basically be in remission, but then afterwards you’ll probably relapse and it’ll be worse,“ Erika Dooley said.
But now, her new neurologist and OBGYN said her managed condition makes a severe relapse less likely, giving the Dooley's hope.
“We have more hope that the drugs that are available to treat MS now are much more abundant and effective than they were 10 years ago," said her husband. "Our hope is that, in 10 year's time, there’s even more drugs available, or maybe even a cure."
Either way, Miles now anxiously awaits becoming a big brother this September.
Dooley is receiving treatment and is under her doctors' supervision. Although excited about their family's new addition, she remains nervous about her physical abilities in the years to come .
So, the expecting mom wrote a letter to her unborn child.
“Your little life is just beginning inside me, and i’m filled with so much hope as we being this journey together. I know that some things might be hard.
No one knows how bad my MS will get or how fast it will happen. I may go blind. I maybe unable to walk. I may forget your name or where we live, but maybe not. Either way, I hope MS will teach you a certain form of compassion and resilience that one can only know with faced with adversity.
We need another champion just like you in our corner. I am so hopeful that by the time you read this, MS has had little to no impact on your life. If this great hope is not our reality, just know just how deeply loved you are and how incredibly inspired I am to be your mom, already."
Sometimes, our lives are like a canvas: Full of an array of undefined lines, uncertainty and an unmatched beauty that lies beneath it all.
“I can’t wait to see all the ways that you and your brother become advocates to fight against this disease," Dooley read behind her tears. “I love you all day, every day.”
The Dooleys will take part in the National Multiple Sclerosis Walk on May 6 to help raise awareness and money for a cure.
Anyone interested is donating to MS research can click here.