i get asked frequently, “how has this pregnancy been compared to your first?” totally normal question, mainly a conversation starter, i get it. my answer is usually something to the effect of, “its been awesome, just way more tired with a toddler running around!” that is true, it is exhausting. i could sleep whenever i wanted with my first pregnancy, because i had no kids yet (remember those days, moms?!) but that short answer is only half the truth. and here is why..
at 15 weeks pregnant i went in for a regular cervical length measurement/check up at EVMS. usually my mom watches Tenley for ultrasounds, but i must have been feeling like super woman that day and i brought her with me. it was only our one hundredth ultrasound, so i had stopped making my husband come at this point.
after about 30 minutes and a pissed off toddler (who had s**t her pants half way through the ultrasound, mind you) i hear these exact words that changed my life… “well, everything looks good except i’m slightly concerned about the baby’s left hand.”
at that point she hovers over baby’s hand and it was unclear whether the baby was clenching his/her fist or if there were in fact, no fingers. she finishes with the ultrasound and leaves to get the doctor. meanwhile, i’ve got a belly covered in gel, no clothes on from the waist down, oh and remember my toddler with a diaper full of s**t?! yeah, that was fun. you can imagine what was going through my head all the while trying to calm my toddler- for TEN minutes.
the doctor comes in and discusses what she saw. “there are some things that look concerning on the ultrasound.” her first concern was not even the hand, it was cysts on baby’s brain and an echogenic focus on the heart. i’m over here like how could this be happening? is this real freaking life? i come in for a routine visit, and my world is turned upside down, by myself, with a pissed off toddler.
so i finally got to change tenley’s diaper, and she was only half as pissed off now as we were approaching hour 2 of the “routine office visit”. then they wanted me to meet with the genetic counselor because apparently my baby could have a slew of chromosomal anomalies from the findings they saw, some even lethal. i remember losing it in the waiting room.
for those of you who don’t know, my husband works in special operations and he is not allowed to bring his phone into work, thus i couldn’t reach him. by the grace of God, my mom called me at that very second and she rushed to the hospital where we were at. i’ll spare you the details of what the genetic counselor was telling me. although she was really good at her job, it was all the “worst case scenario” that no mom wants to hear. after some blood work, i was sent home to wait 1-2 weeks for the results.
that week was probably the hardest week of this whole pregnancy. all the what ifs, what did i do? is this even real?, and so on. something told me that my results would come back normal, but something did tell me that my baby didn’t have fingers. 1 week later, that same genetic counselor called me with the blood results, everything was perfectly normal!
our next ultrasound (with husband in tow) was around 17 weeks and they confirmed what i had already “known”, there were in fact, no fully formed fingers on baby’s left hand. i left there that afternoon feeling slightly nervous, but okay. my husband, not so much. it took him a bit to digest it, while i had already had two weeks to let it sink in.
how am i doing? honestly, at first, i was scared and heartbroken. almost like when you find out horrible news and you keep convincing yourself that “this isn’t real life.” i remember waking up that next day and reliving those feelings again, that was no fun. but i knew i had two choices: i could sit there and dwell on all the what ifs and likely lead myself through a state of depression OR i could accept it and move forward to the “what’s next?!” i chose the second route. since that day, we have done as much research as possible, found numerous support groups for limb differences such as the “Lucky Fin Project” and have bought our daughter the best children’s book called “Uniquely Me” to prepare her and us. we have even met with the baby’s orthopedic specialist- how cool is that?!
so why am i even writing about this? well first, i’m an open book. when something bad happens, you won’t find me alone, you’ll find me talking out my feelings. another reason is because i want to reach out to those parents who may be going through something similar, or who have gone through it and can help me deal with it!
life throws you some curve balls but i can assure you that missing fingers isn’t as tragic as what some in this world are forced to go through. throughout all of this, i have learned that we have zero control of what is ahead, and depending upon your beliefs, it is already planned out for us. in my head, i envisioned my “perfect” little family completely different. what the hell is perfect, anyway? well, apparently i was meant to have a baby with no left fingers and that’s okay. they aren’t technically missing, because you can’t miss something you never had to begin with, right?