Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

Loving Away the Challenges

first day, luke_016At one time, I falsely believed that the love I had for my son was not enough.

He was born early, contracted an often fatal intestinal disease (necrotizing enterocolitis), spent 44 days in the neonatal intensive care unit and, after further examination, was found to have a myriad of medical anomalies.

And I couldn’t fix a damn one.

There was one day, in particular, we had an incredibly difficult go in the NICU. The baby next door to us had emergency surgery in the bay and died. I had our curtain closed, but I could see the fast feet of our nurses and neonatologists running through the hallways. There were tear-stained shirts and bloodshot eyes. Nobody was saying anything.

Then, our doctor arrived with bad news about our son. She asked, “Can I pull up a chair and visit?”

“No,” I replied. “Because good news does not need a chair and a visit.” She smiled, sat down, grabbed my hand and told me anyway.

Seconds after she left the room, I completely lost it.

I loved my son. You know, people say that all the time. Shoot, I had said it thousands of time with my other children. But, it wasn’t until that day I knew what it meant. I loved him enough to let him go, yet somehow I felt like I was failing him as his mom.

If I sit in this chair long enough, if I hold him another hour, kiss his cheek one more time—could I love away the challenges?

There have been many moments throughout his three years I’ve wondered if I was doing enough. Was I keeping up with his therapy, exposing him to new things, challenging him enough, babying him enough, praying enough?

I’m not sure that it ever came in just one moment or through just one person, but as I reflect on this week’s upcoming Valentine’s Day I have been reminded of a very important, liberating lesson.

My love is enough.

I cannot fix all of Luke’s challenges, I cannot wish the bad days away, but I can love. I’m his mom. I gave birth to him and no one on this planet knows him better than I do. My love IS enough.

As singer and songwriter Brandon Heath shares in his song, “Love Never Fails,”

“…love is the arms that are holding you,
Love never fails you.”

Kathryn Whitaker About Kathryn Whitaker

Kathryn Whitaker (TX) is the mother of six (including two 36-week preemies).  Her fifth child was diagnosed with IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction), born at 3lbs. 9oz. and then developed a severe surgical case of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).  He has various medical needs as a direct, and indirect, result.  On her personal blog, Team Whitaker, she writes about what she knows: big families, carpool, kids activities, faith, her beloved Aggies, specialist appointments and sanity checks with her husband.  You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.


  1. This is beautiful! I remember the feeling of thinking if I hold him tight enough, cry enough tears, say enough prayers, . . . will they quit coming to tell me bad news? I also sadly can relate to the feeling of knowing that the depth of a mother’s love is loving so much you would let him go. This post made me tear up. I’m sure several preemie parents can relate to these feelings.

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