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The Long Wait

I was just 26 years old when we found out we were pregnant with our second child. I began this pregnancy expecting 9 months of ‘routine’ pregnancy stuff. Although I often felt a nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right, I always put those negative thoughts to the back of my mind. I was probably just being a nervous mom. The ‘routine’ pregnancy I had anticipated took a dramatic turn when I was 28 weeks along. I received a call asking that my husband and I come to my midwife's office that very morning. I had just had a sonogram the day before. They wouldn't tell me why they wanted to see us so I knew something was wrong. After calling my husband in tears, we headed straight for the doctor's office. I confessed to my husband that I had wondered if something was wrong with the baby from what I saw on the sonogram screen myself. I thought it might be a cleft lip because the face had looked strange to me. After the midwife & doctor confirmed my fears, we were devastated to know that our baby would have to go through several surgeries to correct this problem. We were upset that our baby's features wouldn't be perfect for others to see until after the surgery was performed and that our baby would have to go through the pain of surgery. We knew, however, that we were lucky that this was the only problem they found.

We had a second level sonogram scheduled for the next day, just to make sure that was the only problem. I kept saying to myself, "God will not give us more than what we can bear..." The level two sonogram took place in the hospital's perinatology unit. The technician scanned and rescanned my belly for a long time. When the doctor returned to look at the monitor, our world changed forever as the technician half-whispered to the doctor, "Look at the elbows...". I prayed that I had heard her incorrectly. Why were they looking at the elbows at all? I thought we were just confirming a cleft lip so why were they looking elsewhere? The perinatologist explained very calmly that the baby's arms were short and deformed. He went on to try to describe what they might look like: a short forearm, hands drawn in and curled under tight. He also added very casually that "you'll be surprised what kids can learn to do with these limbs." I didn't want to hear any of this. None of this could be happening. This was just a nightmare. Everything became surreal and I just knew it had to be a bad dream. It just had to be.

Further problems were found a few weeks later at a third level sonogram and an echocardiogram. I came to realize that every new sonogram would mean additional bad news for our child. Our world was crashing in around us and we were completely helpless to do anything about it.

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