Unfortunately, Pregnancy Problems is something I know all too much about. (And so here I will share my story.)
No, I didn’t have gestational diabetes, or even morning sickness! (I realize how incredibly lucky I was!!) But I had 2 major complications at the very end of my pregnancy which I never in my wildest dreams imagined.
I had a smooth time up until 34 weeks. (And I was so clueless as to how things were going to go! I even told my husband “Plan to come home at 37 weeks exactly” He was a truck driver and in my mind? He was going to come home, then we’d have a week together while I was pregnant. Then we’d go for long walks and have lots of sex (because, you know? Those things induce labor according to all the internet experts!) Our perfect baby would be born at 38 weeks, and he would use his last 4 weeks of vacation time to spend our babies first month at home.
At 34 1/2 weeks, I was admitted to the hospital and put on bedrest for Preeclampsia. My husband was 2,000 miles away on the east coast. And I was stuck laying on my left side (because if I rolled over my blood pressure would spike) for 2.5 days until he got home.
Leading to 20 hours of labor, full of spikes (my blood pressure) and plummets (my babies heart rate) and ending in an emergency c-section.
Now, it’d be nice if I could say it ended there. (And really, it did. Now that I’m 8 years removed from the situation.) But it didn’t.
My beautiful baby was born. My husband brought the baby to me, showed me that it was missing it’s left hand, and then disappeared with the nurses to the nursery. (I still didn’t know my babies sex, as we’d opted to not find out!) The doctor stitched me up and then left me in recovery. Alone.
FOUR HOURS LATER? I still hadn’t heard or seen anyone. I didn’t know what was wrong with my baby. I didn’t even know if it was a he or she! (Queue panic attack!)
When I finally met my baby girl? I learned that she was perfectly fine, with the exception of missing fingers.
Dealing With This News
I put on a strong exterior. I knew I would have to advocate for my daughter in her medical care, to learn what she had in store.
She was first diagnosed with Amniotic Band Syndrome, although a second opinion thought that it may be Symbrachydactyly. We’ll never really know what the actual cause, and honestly? At this point I don’t care. (Nothing is going to grow her fingers, and she’s doing just fine now.)
I quickly started searching the internet for people like my little one. I found Born Just Right. A blog about a girl who was only a few years older and born missing her let arm just above the elbow. (In fact, her 5 tips I wish I knew six years ago post is one I have referred many people to over the years.) Living One Handed is another blog I have loved over time!
I spent a lot of time sad. (Mostly privately.) Grieving for all the things my daughter would never be able to do. For all the times I KNEW she would be bullied. (At 8 years old and the end of 2nd grade? We’ve only had 2 incidents of bullying, so I consider us lucky!)
I spent some time angry. At myself. At my husband. At God. At my doctor. I could list a million people I got angry at, knowing that it meant nothing in the big scheme of things.
I spent time traveling to doctors offices, since no one in our town specialized in kids with missing hands. We travelled to Shriner’s hospital. We travelled to specialists in Northern Colorado. We spent time researching prosthetics.
There came a time (for me, luckily it came quickly) where I had to realize that this was life and life was going to be ok.
Had you told me 8 years ago that one day I would yell (across the crowded parking lot) at that precious baby to “Just use both hands!!” I would have thought you were crazy. I couldn’t imagine a life where I didn’t constantly fixate on her missing fingers.
Or that I would be speaking publicly about this precious reminder that sometimes things don’t go as planned? (Speaking publicly at all is a huge step of OMG for me, let alone about this!)
I wouldn’t have believed you. I just couldn’t comprehend that.
But here’s the thing. Sometimes? Our pregnancies don’t go perfectly. Most of the time we’re lucky and everything works out ok in the end. (Sure, we may have more doctors appointments, higher medical bills, occupational therapy and extra tears when things don’t come as easily as they do to other children. But they’re mostly ok.)
The most important thing I have learned in 8 years of having a child with only one hand? You need to search out a support system. It can be local. It can be a mommy group on facebook. It can be another blogger. But you need to find someone to take this journey with you!
Have you struggled through something related to pregnancy/childbirth that resulted in needing support? Did you find a great support system out there? I’d love to hear more about it so that we can hopefully help others together!