As Long as it's Healthy...
"As long as it's healthy"... A term used by many a pregnant mom, daddy-to-be, grandma-to-be and even random stranger. I myself have used this term many times without a second thought. But I must admit, that these once harmless words now sting just a little bit. I wouldn't wish an unhealthy child on anyone… but it is some people’s reality.
What if you learn that your baby isn’t healthy? Then what? As I sit waiting for hours at specialists’ offices with my son, I realize that this is the reality of more people than I ever thought. It is a reality that my husband and I were faced with 16 months ago when we were told the baby inside of me was ill.
Unfortunately, I remember it like yesterday. I remember being ushered into the doctor’s office after an ultrasound determined that something was wrong. The doctor shook our hands and told us that she was sorry that she was meeting us under these circumstances... I still didn't understand why she was being so grim. She started drawing diagrams of our baby's supposedly deficient brain and explained that he may never be able to walk or talk or see or hear and may not even survive the pregnancy. Her words shocked and shook me, but somehow didn't quite register. My first instinct was that she was talking nonsense. I had just seen this baby moving all around on the ultrasound and he seemed perfectly fine. She then suggested that my husband and I discuss our options. We could do further testing by amniocentesis, a procedure that could be performed in the office that same day or we could schedule a termination within the next few days. She then handed me a box of tissues and left the room.
My husband and I looked at each other with tears in our eyes which streamed down our cheeks. We embraced tighter than we ever had before. I often think that it was at that moment that our marriage truly began. It was a test of our love and I had never felt our union as strongly as I did in the moments that followed. After holding each other and shedding a few intensely emotional tears, we pulled ourselves together and almost immediately and unanimously decided that we would not do any invasive testing to further threaten the life of our delicate child and we most definitely were not going to terminate the pregnancy. While I felt somewhat devastated I thanked God in that moment for bringing me a soul mate and husband who shared my beliefs and values. I just imagined the fights and turmoil that this news might bring to couples with differing points of view.
When the doctor returned a few minutes later she seemed surprised by our poise and shocked by our decisions. She reiterated the poor prognosis for our child and seemed to almost scorn our decision. She was certainly not my favorite doctor in all of this.
So there we were, "as long as it's healthy" became the stinging phrase that it still is to me today. My son who has a heart defect is not fully healthy. However, the brain defect that they saw on the ultrasound that day was nonexistent at birth. Our road has been difficult, but when he smiles at me and giggles at silly things, I know that I would do it all over again. He is so loved and so very worthy of that love! I could not imagine the world without him, he lights up my day everyday. I am so proud of him for being such a little fighter and for having such a strong will to live.
Doctor's and all of the tests and technology that they use to determine outcomes aren't always right. Sometimes, just sometimes... I think we are better off without all of the predictive testing that drives parents to be crazy these days! But I also know that it is some of this testing that saved my son's life and mine. I guess it's just another one of those double edged swords...
© Nicola Rios Nogales and ispeakmom.com, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicola Rios Nogales and ispeakmom.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.