“There was a complication with the ultrasound. Your doctor doesn’t want me to talk with you about what I found, but she wants you to go and see her right away”. These are the words you don’t want to hear. You want everything to stop after “you’re having a little baby girl”. The drive over to the doctor’s office is a cacophony of loud, angry thoughts. What could be wrong? Was it her heart? Her spine? I know she’s alive, we saw her wiggling and kicking. Everything looked okay to me, but what could it be?
What they found, or I guess didn’t find, was my little daughter’s left hand. I listened as my doctor listed numerous reasons for why it might be missing, I listened, but all I thought was that it could be worse. Yes, this sucks, but it could be worse. She could be missing half of her brain, or part of her heart. Or one or both of her legs, necessitating a wheel chair. Or she could be mentally retarded. At least just missing a hand means she can have a mostly normal life. The doctor explains about amniotic bands. She says we can do genetic testing if we want, to make sure it’s nothing else. She says we should go to the high risk pregnancy doctor like I did when they thought my cervix was dangerously short. He can do a better scan and make sure it’s really missing. Another drive from office to office and this time I’m thinking maybe he’ll find it. Maybe all of this worry will be for nothing like it was last time. Your cervix is short, the baby might fall out, run to this doctor so he can find out for sure. Then he laughed and said “everything is fine”. But this time, everything was not fine. Her left hand is indeed missing. Send in the genetic counselor. She doesn’t think that this means that anything else is wrong. If the baby was missing more than one appendage or limb it might be a sign of a larger problem, but this looks like just a fluke, a cruel twist of nature and my daughter is abnormal for all of her life. I worry that kids will stare and taunt. My husband cries because his daughter can’t play the piano, type, or wear an engagement ring on the proper hand.
Yesterday I was fine. Well, mostly fine. Nobody wants to receive this news, everybody wants their kid to have as normal and grand a life as possible, but I was okay. I thought of all of the things that she can do rather than concentrating on those that she can’t. I thought of all of the ways that it could be worse. My father called to tell me that he and my stepmom had talked about what a lucky little girl she is to have me as a mother, that people are given challenges because they can handle them and that this little girl chose me to be her mother. I think I believe the same thing.
Today I am not so fine. I sit on my couch, weeping uncontrollably, my heart breaking for this little girl. I am convinced that she will be extraordinary, that she will surprise us all, and that she was meant to be my daughter, but I weep for her little feelings, her little heart that might be broken by the things that mean people say or the strange looks they may give her. I grieve for the normal life that she probably will not have. I try not to be angry at people who have normal little babies in their wombs. I try not to rage at the unfairness and randomness of life. I try not to blame myself. I hope she is beautiful in every other way to make up for this.