Celebrating My Daughter’s Birthday With a Special Song

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by Jen Cueva |

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The song “In My Daughter’s Eyes” by Martina McBride hits me heavy every time I hear it. I always dedicate this song to my daughter, Kayla. If only I could see myself in my daughter’s eyes.

As a mom, I have always loved my daughter beyond measure, and I am her biggest fan. “KK,” as we call Kayla, grew up as an only child, and my husband and I have always been extremely close to her. This might be because we became parents at a young age. We didn’t know a single thing about parenting, but we vowed to do our best to love and protect our precious baby girl.

We never lived a lifestyle of the rich and famous, but Kayla never went without necessities. We vigorously worked to teach her the difference between right and wrong, and that love and faith can get us through anything. Little did we know that when she was a tween, pulmonary hypertension would come into our family and dismantle our lives. My PH diagnosis was something new, and we all had to adjust.

When a loved one is diagnosed with a life-altering illness like PH, it disrupts the entire family. Even in the most stable families, instability occurs. I can’t imagine how challenging my PH diagnosis was on Kayla at that age.

Somehow she survived her teen years and morphed into a beautiful young adult. She is now happily married, is a registered dietitian, and started her own company. Yes, I am one proud mom!

A 1-year-old KK with her beautiful smile. (Courtesy of Jen Cueva)

We also have some struggles. I realize that my health has a significant emotional toll on her, too. My anxiety gets the best of me on some days, and I am ashamed of the mom I am on those days. Kayla seems to overlook it. Most of the time, it bothers me more than it does her.

I can only imagine the roller coaster of emotions she experiences. But if you see her, she’ll greet you with a big, beautiful smile. She never meets a stranger. I’m not sure where she gets that from.

I often struggle with guilt about being a “sick” mom, and that she was slighted a bit. My therapist reminds me of how strong and resilient she is because of my PH.

Back in November, Kayla shared in our “30 Days of PH” series about growing up with a mom with PH. Of course, I cried when I read it. I want to share a bit of her writing:

“There’s something truly interesting about a relationship when you add a twist of fear of losing each other in there.⁣ For instance, we had a fear that she wouldn’t be there at my high school graduation. Instead, she fought her way to my college graduation. She had a hidden fund for when the day came when I’d get married but instead … God guided her down that aisle on my wedding day.”

I will always cherish the day of the wedding, as we made such precious memories. It was the most beautiful day and wedding I could ever dream for her. She always said she wanted to be a princess, and on her wedding day, she was. I was ecstatic to be here to help with the planning and to see my baby girl get married. On her wedding day, she gave me a beautiful handwritten card that said, “Mom, let’s play dress-up one more time.” I felt like a queen.

The card KK gave Jen on KK’s wedding day. (Photo by Jen Cueva)

When I notice that guilt nudges at my heart, I try to think of her writing (referring to me): “… [W]hat she doesn’t recognize is that I’ve grown into the woman I am by watching her be a strong and positive woman who leaves her mark everywhere she goes.”

PH wreaks havoc on our family, and I’m certain it does on yours, too. But I am forever grateful that God chose me to be KK’s mom. On Aug. 25, we will celebrate her 28th birthday — yes, I was 10 when I had her, hehe.

Happy birthday, KK, I have loved you with every breath in me since the day you were born. Being a mom is far from easy, but it is my greatest treasure. Now I sit back and admire you “adventuring” through life and handling all that comes your way like a champ. Thank you for your humor, love, strength, and patience. Lord knows you have needed it!

Remember, life is a gift. Life is tough, but love makes it all bearable. Cry when you need to, but don’t forget to laugh. You may become frustrated or angry with me, and that is OK. I’m far from perfect, but I do my best. One day when you become a mom (when the time is right), you will realize that no one on this earth loves like a mother.

Jen and KK on a recent coffee date. (Courtesy of Kayla Newnam)

How has your PH affected your family? Does this make you feel guilty? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.


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