M y husband Michael and I weren’t frum when we got married, but we wanted a large family nonetheless. (Large, in our lexicon, meant four or five children.)

Hashem had other plans for us, although we didn’t know much about Him at the time. My first birth went dreadfully awry, and my baby and I nearly lost our lives in the process.

I was a mess after the birth. I spent two weeks in the ICU and needed kidney dialysis for three weeks. At the time, we didn’t know how the traumatic birth had affected our baby, Lisa. She underwent all sorts of tests and evaluations in the hospital, all of which came back normal, but the doctors cautioned us that it was too soon to tell whether her cognitive and motor faculties were impaired.

“G-d won’t give you anything you can’t handle,” a nurse in the hospital assured us.

Lisa and I were finally released from the hospital three weeks after her birth.

We had no idea then whether she would be healthy, mildly impaired, or severely handicapped. We did know that having more children would require complex medical intervention.

Until Lisa was born, I had worked as a lawyer full-time. I had been planning to take a brief maternity leave and then return to work on a reduced schedule, but I ended up having to take six months off work to recover from the birth. After that, I went back to the law firm part-time, but my heart wasn’t in my work. I knew I needed to be home with Lisa.

Lisa seemed fine, at least at the beginning. But after a few months, we noticed that she was missing certain developmental markers. We took her for early intervention — physical therapy, occupational therapy — and when she was a year old, we received the official diagnosis: cerebral palsy. In other words, Lisa had suffered brain damage at birth that would compromise her motor function.

Still, we were hopeful. Cerebral palsy comes in many variations, and it was possible that our daughter would suffer only mild impairment.

When Lisa was two, we saw a news story about an extraordinary doctor in a different city who ran a CP clinic and worked to help each of her patients maximize their potential. The doctor herself had CP, actually.

“That’s the doctor we want for our daughter,” we said.

Unfortunately, there was a yearlong waiting list to see this doctor. Luckily — or, as we would later come to recognize, by a stroke of Hashgachah — my best friend’s husband played golf with this doctor’s mentor and was able to get us an appointment right away.

It was worth our while to fly out to see this doctor two to three times per year, because she truly understood Lisa’s issues and was able to give us the encouragement we so badly needed.

In the meantime, with the help of modern medicine, we were blessed with two more children, both boys. When we were expecting our second child, I decided, with Michael’s encouragement, to give up law completely and throw myself fully into being a mother. Working part-time in the law firm, I had felt like a half-hearted lawyer and a half-hearted mom. Realizing that I had to choose between the two, I chose to be a fully present mother. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 663)