..and here’s why.
Back in 2013 I stopped blogging- food was no longer all that interesting, and psychiatry was getting harder to write about. Offline life was getting more and more hectic- new job, new house, new child, and so on. I did not think the world needed to hear from me anymore.
Its 2016. I now have a child, a precocious two year old who lights up our life. I have a wonderful job, a wonderful husband and a home I love. We have a second baby on the way, and I have been feeling pretty smug with the way things have worked out.
Until a few weeks ago. I went for my 18 week anatomy ultrasound scan after work. I had been feeling well, with the first trimester fatigue subsiding. My OB had been joking with me, telling me how “boring” my pregnancy was. I used to tell him, “I like boring.”
That was about to change. The ultrasound tech told me she was having trouble seeing the baby’s left hand. Maybe he wasn’t cooperating. She had me pee, and then called in the doc. He was able to get the baby to move, but still could not see the left hand. He started to sweat as he told me the hand was “most likely missing.” He apologized. I heard myself say, “Hey, it’s only the left hand.” He said something about the left hand not knowing what the right did, and then start apologizing again. All I wanted was for him to leave the room so I could start crying.
Back in the car, I called my husband and my sister. Both physicians who deal with ultrasounds, they told me how unreliable ultrasounds were and we would wait for the repeat scan scheduled two days out. We all clung on to that little ray of hope through the tears and the bewilderment.
I did a few things anyway. I went to my birth board, and was quickly referred to the Lucky Fin project, an organization created by the mother of a young girl with a limb difference. I downloaded a book written by the mother of another young man with a limb difference and read it overnight. I read every website I could find about limb differences. By the time of the second scan, I had a fair idea of what we were dealing with. My husband accompanied me this time, and we both saw the missing left hand clearly. The doctor was different this time, a calm woman who told me, “I’ll cry if you will.” So we both did. She then gently told us that termination was an option.
An option? I consider myself fiercely pro-choice, but this wasn’t a choice. We saw a baby on the scan, a yawning, penis flaunting, playing-with-toes baby. A baby without a hand. If I lost my hand today, would I kill myself? And thus the decision was made. Did I revisit that decision in moments of darkness? Yes. But I always reached the same decision, again and again over the next few weeks. The husband never doubted the decision at all. In his line of work, it’s always “life over limb.” His friends said, “But this is your child.” He said, “that’s precisely why it’s even more true.”
What can I say, I married an idealist and a romantic.
So here we are. Six weeks out, and freshly back from a trip to the homeland. We shared the news with close friends and family. Everyone has been supportive, though the topic obviously makes some people uncomfortable. We’ve reached out to physicians in the field, to families, to friends and strangers. The limb difference community has been incredibly supportive. I still occasionally battle with “why my child?” Was I too smug? Did I consider myself too lucky? Did I not drink enough water? Did I squat too much? Why, oh why, did I watch that bloody lunar eclipse?
And then the baby kicks. I see pictures of other adorable kids and successful, happy adults with various kinds of limb deficits. And I know things are going to be okay.
This is why I’m blogging again. Because we’ve started another journey, one I that I believe will be worth sharing.