So here is how it started…
In January 2012, Greg and I went in to see the doctor for our 20 week ultrasound and to find out the sex of this little nugget. We were both super excited, kind of like a can’t-sleep-because-you-know-your-parents-are-taking-you-to-Disneyland-in-the-morning excited. I had decided it was a girl. Then I felt guilty in case it wasn’t so I decided it was a boy (just in case). Then a girl for sure. Then a boy. Let’s just say that by the time we arrived for our appointment, I had an open mind.
We were ready for the ultrasound and chatted with the doctor for a while before I got to lay back and await the big news. She put the ultrasound thing (what are those called anyway?) on my tummy and I saw a little head appear on the monitor. Then she stopped. She tilted her head and looked at the image.
“Okay…” she said “Hmm…”
I thought I needed to relax. It is so unlikely that anything could be wrong.
“I’m seeing something that concerns me.”
Relax. So I asked, “Is it the shape of the head? It looks odd to me.” And it kind of did. Like a lemon, I found out later. “So what could the problem be?”
“Let me take a look at the spine here… This looks like spina bifida. I hope I’m wrong, I really do. But I don’t think that will be the case.”
She left the room to call the high risk specialists at the hospital and see if they could get us in right away. I remember looking at Greg and patting his knee. He rubbed my back. I had some vague idea of what spina bifida meant. Something about your back. A bubble on your back maybe? Were those the kids that wore leg braces or were they the ones that needed wheelchairs? Were they the kids that needed helmets or something? Could they communicate? I was mixed up. I cried a little bit, I think. I was worried about Greg. I didn’t want him to be anxious. I was concerned about calling in to work where everyone was waiting for the news. We had a “boy or girl” guessing game in full swing and they were waiting for me to phone in the results. I was scared to think too hard about what the doctor had told us.
She came back in and said we should head over to the hospital right away. She said to take the day off from work. As an afterthought, I asked if it was a boy or a girl, although at that point I didn’t care so much.
I felt no joy. Actually, I felt angry. I wish I could say I felt angry at God or fate or the doctor, but I felt angry at the little boy on the monitor. I remember thinking, “That’s not my son.”
I really think that on a day like that one you should be allowed to feel whatever you want. Really. Whatever you want. There is no sense in screening your feelings because you might as well get it out quick. It won’t be pretty. I thought and felt a lot of crazy things that day. I was terrified, angry, and heartbroken. I don’t think I’ve ever felt despair like that before. It would not be honest to say that I prayed that day. It was a lot more like begging. I begged God to make things different than they were.
We named him when we got home. Simeon Lee. “Simeon” after St. Simeon who recognized Jesus as Christ when Mary and Joseph brought him to the temple as child.
In the past three months we have learned so much about our son’s birth defect and what it will mean for our family. I know our child will live a good life and will have meaningful relationships and experiences. Already, this news has brought out so much good. I have seen my husband become a Dad (a devoted and good looking one, at that!). I have seen an almost superhuman show of support from our friends and family. I’ve seen my trust in God grow more than I thought possible. And I have fallen in love with this little boy taking up residence in my tummy.
For a while you just feel like you’re pregnant with the diagnosis. Like you are expecting a little Spina Bifida, due in June! Yikes! But that doesn’t last forever and you do get excited about your baby again. Some days are better than others. (That’s a ridiculous understatement!) More realistically, some days are super lame, emotional, and scary while others are full of new mom excitement. So here’s to being a new parent. Simeon better hang on to his hat!