A Mother-Daughter Bond: 'We Have One Heart, You And I'

May 12, 2017
Originally published on May 12, 2017 8:22 am

When Yomi Wrong was born in 1972, doctors told her mother, Sarah Churchill, the newborn may die during the night.

Yomi was born with a rare genetic disorder called osteogenesis imperfecta, which causes bones to break under the slightest pressure.

"Your skull was fractured; your arms, your ribs," Sarah explained to her daughter at StoryCorps in San Francisco, Calif. Doctors told Sarah the best thing to do was to leave Yomi in the hospital because she probably wouldn't survive.

"There was no way that I was going to leave you there."

In the days following her birth, Sarah would spend the night with her newborn, mother and child together as one, sitting in a hospital rocking chair.

"I remember our hearts touched each other."

Growing up with a rare genetic condition was tough for Yomi. She kept track of her bone fractures, but it got out of control.

"I would fall or, I remember one time, one of my sisters dropped an orange on me, and that broke something," Yomi remembers. "You could look at me too hard and I would break."

It was her mother's love that kept Yomi strong. A love that she wishes she could have passed on to someone.

"You know one of my regrets is that I didn't have my own children," Yomi tells her mom. "I think one of the biggest desires for wanting to mother is to be able to carry on this legacy of love that you started with me."

Though Yomi will turn 45 this month, she often thinks about what happened the day she was born. It was the day doctors told her mother that Yomi would be a burden if her family took her home. The day, Yomi says, her mother picked her.

"You tell me often that you believe I picked you ... but I also feel like you picked me. If you had walked away and left me there when I was born, nobody would have looked askance."

"I felt that you were a part of me," Sarah says. "I knew that I made the right decision."

Audio produced for Morning Edition by Jud Esty-Kendall.

StoryCorps is a national nonprofit that gives people the chance to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, at StoryCorps.org.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And that music means it is time for StoryCorps on this Friday before Mother's Day. Today, a daughter who wanted to thank her mom for not giving up on her. In 1972, Sarah Churchill gave birth to her third child, a daughter named Yomi. She was born with a rare genetic disorder that causes bones to break under the slightest pressure. Doctors said her future was grim.

Well, Yomi is about to celebrate her 45th birthday. At StoryCorps, her mom told her about the night she was born.

SARAH CHURCHILL: Your skull was fractured, your arms, your ribs, your legs. And they said that you would probably during the night, so the best thing would be to leave you at the hospital. But there was no way that I was going to leave you there.

And they had a rocking chair. And I would sit there and hold you. And I remember our hearts touched each other. I used to always say we have one heart, you and I.

YOMI WRONG: So what was it like caring for me throughout the years?

CHURCHILL: Well, I remember giving you a bath. And you turned your arm, and I heard it.

WRONG: The bone snap?

CHURCHILL: Yeah. And you were crying. I'm crying.

WRONG: I used to keep track of my fractures but then they just got out of control. I would fall, or I remember one time one of my sisters dropped an orange on me and that broke something. I mean, you could look at me too hard and I would break. So I had my down periods, but I don't always have to articulate every single thing because you get it. You understand.

You know, one of my regrets is that I didn't have my own children. And I think one of the biggest desires for wanting to mother is to be able to carry on this legacy of love that you started with me. You tell me often that you believe I picked you.

CHURCHILL: I think children come as a gift to their parent.

WRONG: I don't know if I've ever told you this, but I also feel like you picked me. If you had walked away and left me there when I was born, nobody would have looked askance.

CHURCHILL: But I felt that you were a part of me. So I knew that I made the right decision.

WRONG: And I've always admired you for that.

CHURCHILL: It was my honor.

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GREENE: Sarah Churchill interviewed by her daughter Yomi Wrong at StoryCorps in San Francisco. And Yomi currently works to make sure hospitals in Northern California are complying with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Their interview will be archived in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and also featured on the StoryCorps podcast. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.