In October 2005, my husband and I went to the doctor to see our very first baby for the very first time. It was a routine 20 week ultrasound and we were so excited to catch a glimpse of the little person who was growing inside of me. We watched the screen closely, not knowing exactly what the technician was measuring, but not really caring. That was our baby and to us she looked perfect.
When the ultrasound was over, we were beaming. The technician had captured the most perfect little profile picture of the for us to show to the world. But, as the picture was printing, she looked at us and said “There is something wrong with this baby.” I was in shock. What do you mean there is something wrong? Didn’t I just see a perfect little baby right there on the screen? Our excitement for this new little person was now overshadowed by fear.
We were brought into a room for a consultation with the doctor. He had reviewed the ultrasound and confirmed that yes, there was something wrong with our baby. He calmly explained that we would need to see a specialist. He didn’t have many answers for our questions because he admittedly didn’t know much about it. It was a rare condition, one that the hospital we were at was not equipped to handle. Before we left he said, “Life is about expectations and you were not expecting this. But still, your baby looks beautiful.”
In the next month, we met with a specialist. We had settled down from the shock and we were ready to meet the doctor who was going to save our baby. He spoke with us in detail about our child’s condition and what would happen in the coming months. And then BAM! It came. “Do you want to terminate the pregnancy?” I felt sick. I had not expected this. I was supposed to put all my confidence in this doctor. He was supposed to save my child but yet he did not care if I wanted to kill her. Did he not just say this was a treatable condition? Is there something he was not telling us?
We told the doctor that we were going to continue the pregnancy. And even with a rocky start, everything turned out wonderfully in the end. We gave birth to a beautiful little girl who needed surgery and a little extra time in the hospital. Looking back, there are a few things I would like for my doctor, and all doctors in his same position to know.
I have been told there is something wrong with my baby. Receiving this sort of news is scary. The fear of the unknown is intense. I’m sure this isn’t easy news for you to relay but, please, don’t make it worse by scaring me and asking me if I want to terminate the pregnancy.
Please tell me what you know. I would like to receive accurate information because I really do not know too much about the condition. Many conditions which were once inoperable, can easily be fixed today and not all defects even require a surgery. Assume that I do not know this. Give me a little hope.
Please offer me a little bit of support. I understand that you have a lot of patients and you may not be available to hold my hand the entire way, but do tell me that someone will. There are numerous groups out there willing to offer support to women and families who find out their child will have a birth defect or a genetic disorder. Please let this be known.
Allow me to trust you. Help me know that even if the diagnosis is grim, you will do everything you can to try and save my baby. Once again, do not ask me if I want to terminate the pregnancy. How can I trust you to save my child if it seems as if you do not care whether the child lives or dies. Life is about expectations. And while life doesn’t always live up to those, I hope that you will by doing everything you possibly can for this baby.
A Mother who has been there
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