I am a mother, just like the rest of the posters here, I’ve been reading since the beginning of this website, but have yet to see a story like mine. Therefore I decided the time has come for me to share. I have two daughters. The first was born in 2004. She left stretch marks that began on my upper thighs and reached upwards like flames around my belly button. They faded rather quickly from bright red to beige matching my skin tone. I only gained 30 pounds with her, and in two years time I was down to my lightest weight (180 lbs, I’m 5 foot, 11 inches tall). My first daughter, J, is a shining star, a streak of light and sound. She is strong, fierce, fun, and a constant source of joy (and headaches, I have a strong willed child). She was the unplanned blessing, bringing my boyfriend and me together as husband and wife, making us into a family. In June 2006 I became pregnant a second time. We believed that this was likely our last child, so my pregnancy was something I wanted to enjoy as much as I could. How I treasured every kick and wiggle. I didn’t get any new stretch marks, gained 35 pounds. It was an uneventful pregnancy. My second baby girl, M, came on her due date, after 8 hours of agonizing labor as she was “sunny side up”. Finally she turned, I pushed five minuets and my blessing had arrived. This is generally what the website is about, our pregnancy and labor stories, but my second daughter’s story began later, and it has changed the person I am, the sort of mother I am. It has changed everything. M developed normally until she was 5 months. At that time we noticed she had a bit of a tremor, it grew worse, and at 6.5 months she was seen by specialists. The diagnosis rocked our world. She has a form of Mitochondrial Disease, known specifically as Leigh’s Disease. The mitochondria in her cells are unable to produce enough energy to properly fuel her body, in my daughter’s case this is due to a genetic mutation. The prognosis is poor; life expectancy varies from months to a few years. Leigh’s Disease attacks her brain, the area that controls motor control (both voluntary and involuntary) is being eaten away at, a little bit at a time. Eventually, her brain will no longer send the message to her lungs to breath. At the time of diagnosis she was sitting supported, babbling, just shaky. She has regressed, she no longer sits. She no longer rolls or holds her head up. The talking has ceased, she no longer cries and the silence is deafening. M is not able to hold things in her hands; her big sister is hit hard by her no longer holding any toys. She rarely makes eye contact and each smile, rare as they are is a celebration. We are loosing our blessed girl, far too quickly. So, that is my story. As I type she is on my lap, staring contentedly into space. The cocktail of drugs she takes daily is designed to control seizures and make her as comfortable as possible. Some days she is present, some days her little mind is in a far off place. She is fed by a tube in belly, scars on her beautiful skin. Her eyes are shockingly blue, her hair brown like mine, and she is beautiful and absolutely perfect. In just a year I came to know her, and came to know that I must let her go. I read the stories here, finding comfort in the other women who have lost children, but I am different from those who loose in childbirth. I read the other stories, women who seem so consumed with their bodies changes they almost miss the miracle before them. I cannot help but want to scream. I no longer care about the stretch marks that scar me, or the extra pounds around my middle caused more by emotional eating than baby weight gain. I am proud that my arms are strong to rock, my back able to bear the weight of motherhood. My eyes are older now, but I’ve seen such beauty along with all the sadness. My feet have walked miles comforting children; it’s made my legs strong. My breasts are unrecognizable after nursing two girls, but I am proud that I was able, and will continue to nurse M as long as we can. I have learned so much about faith, so much about myself, I have learned how amazing a man my husband really is. Our babies are beautiful, treasure them. In the end the size of jeans you wear is so little compared to the smile they give. That is my story, I am proud to have shared.