perspective is a bitch

evening field

It’s unfortunate (understatement) to have the joyous (long-expected, much anticipated, lalala) birth of a baby so muddled up with despair. I hate that my baby, my second son, third child, my only sweet Ulysses, came into the world already holding such a heavy burden. He is burdened by the circumstances of his birth. His mother refused to look at him straight away, for crying out loud! He is burdened by the very basics of his body. He will have to work hard to accomplish the simple automatic things most people don’t even think about. That’s just the way it is. And I don’t like it. And I am still grieving for the loss of what I imagined having a new person in our family would look like.

I was honestly concerned throughout my pregnancy that I’d be disappointed if Scrappy came out a boy. I sort of had my heart set on a girl. Not because I like girls better or because I didn’t want another boy. It’s silly, really, but it was hard for me to picture my big boy, mister just turned six, not being the only boy. My daughter is so far from little now, she’s savvy and smart and well-read and can hold her own in political debates. I guess I was just feeling like our house could use a small sister. And what am I supposed to do with so many plastic bins full of a carefully curated collection of fabulous girl clothes? I have saved just about everything my daughter has ever worn and do you know how much time I spent in thrift stores when she was little? Think piles of vintage Hanna Andersson and various and sundry other well-made, well-designed impossible-to-replace little girl clothes.

So I was hoping for a girl. I won’t deny it. And the day this baby was due, the day I found out everything was not at all what I was expecting, I felt like the world’s biggest chump for ever caring about sex at all.

I irrationally blamed myself. Like had I made that chirpily insipid “as long as it’s healthy” caveat, I wouldn’t have teased the gods to show me what’s what.  Of course that’s not how it works.

You want to know how it works? Babies with birth defects deserve to be loved and adored and wanted.  Babies have been born with abnormalities as long as babies have been born. It could happen to anyone. Why not my baby? Why not me? Why not you? (just lucky, I guess.)

I can tell you that I sure wasn’t thinking of all those old stripey, cotton dresses when we had our first appointment at the pediatric orthopedic hospital last week.

I can tell you that I had to bite my tongue to keep from crying when the occupational therapist there practically shrugged with disinterest over his deformed hands. From an orthopedic point of view, apparently, if you have a thumb, you’re golden. One thumb! What the heck are most people doing with all those extra digits?

I can tell you that I am so jaded and disgusted with my former self for not realizing how easy we had it. Too many times I’ve been cranky and impatient about dumb stuff (and when you’re tentatively scheduling your son’s leg amputations, suddenly everything else is pretty stupid).

I can tell you that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to join in on birth story conversations again, don’t think I’ll ever give a fig about any of that anymore.

I can tell you that a whole body is a remarkable gift. Use yours wisely.

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Categories: Uncategorized | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “perspective is a bitch

  1. Our ability to change perspectives is a wonderful gift. See how the tiger is now out? All of our tigerness is. Your in a tribe April. So is he. I know it is not easy. I know it is hurting you and your family. But your right, he so deserves love and acceptance. And he shall have it. And you in return will get it back.

  2. Lisa N

    Good venting April! I hope it is helping you, I can only imagine that it is. It may seem trivial but, not being able to use the girl baby clothes would have bothered me a little at first too! :). Keep trying to appreciate the little things and laugh about the dumb stuff.

  3. Your candor is inspiring. Strength to you all.

  4. I’m worried that my comments of “me too!” may start to get annoying…so seriously, send me a note–a picture of your middle finger even–if it’s getting to be too much.

    A few days before our ultrasound I somehow magically switched my “it’s a boy” gut feeling to “it’s a girl. It’s definitely a girl.” And I was really excited because I wanted another girl…I wanted my daughter to have a sister. Anyway, to solidify this feeling I saw these amazing vintage baby mary-jane’s on etsy and snapped them up in a second before anyone else did. And I remember thinking how gutsy that was of me since I was basically betting against my emotions and what if I was wrong? How would that be for me or the baby….

    I had never–off course not! how could i?–considered the possibility that maybe my baby wouldn’t have normal feet with which to wear shoes. Funny how quickly gender became a non-issue.

    Eventually I was able to snap a few photos on her with those baby shoes on–and that felt like a triumph–but she was never able to wear them for real.

    • are you kidding? i welcome as many “me too!”s as you care to toss my way.

      certainly in all the things i’ve concerned myself about growing my family or being pregnant, having a baby without normal feet was not one of them. beyond my imagination! but now i have this boy with feet so abnormal i can’t really even put socks on him. part of my resistance to resuming life outside of our home lies in the basic dilemma of keeping his body clothed and warm. he won’t ever wear shoes of any kind. it’s a heartbreak i don’t know if i’ll ever get used to.

  5. April, I want to give you a hug.

    I have experienced some similar feelings too. My littlest son’s are not physical, but on the inside. It’s hard for people to understand when they see what they assume is a normal little boy jumping up and down screaming for no reason. Or when he takes his shoes of and throws them in public. etc I know your experience is very different than mine but I can relate to the discovery that nothing I could do or could have done could have made his existence any different. All I can do now-is try and make his future as great as possible. I do not know what the future holds for him and that is scary; but then again I remind myself that I do not know what the future holds for my other kids or anyone else for that matter and just because we assume things will turn out a certain way doesn’t mean it always happens like that- and in fact usually does not; I guess that is how life just is………and it was a hard lesson for me to learn. I try very hard to make no plans anymore and I do have long term goals but how I reach them changes with what life throws at me at any given moment.

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