What If?

Turns out I may have been prematurely optimistic in writing my last post about getting past the threat of a miscarriage and being able to enjoy this pregnancy.

Less than 24 hours after I wrote about how happy I was, everything came crashing down all at once. First of all, Will got kicked out of daycare. I won’t go into detail too much right now because that’s going to be a separate post all its own. But the bottom line is its for bullshit reasons and now we have to scramble to find a suitable/affordable daycare for Will in the next few days. No easy task and very stressful. It also doesn’t help that I’m sick as a dog right now.

But adding to that stress is we got a call from the diagnostic company that did MJ’s ultrasound on Wednesday. The doctor wants us back in this morning because he’s worried about a potential problem with the baby’s legs. Specifically they didn’t separate the entire time we were having the ultrasound done.

Look, I know what you’re going to say and I know you’re right. It’s probably nothing. Moms everywhere have told me they were dragged back to hospitals 2, 3 and even 4 times for possible problems and genetic defects from ultrasounds which turned out to be nothing. And later on this morning, I fully expect to be breathing a huge sigh of relief when we find out everything is OK.

But in the meantime, I’m human. And I can’t help but wonder, what if?

What if there’s something very wrong with this baby? Down’s Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Cystic Fibrosis, or Sirenomelia (aka Mermaid Syndrome) where a newborn’s legs are fused together. Can you tell I took straight to Google after the doctor’s call? And yes, I’m jumping the gun here. But that’s not the point.

Every expectant parents has, at some point, wondered what would happen if their kid was born with some kind of defect. Hypothetically, let’s say we find out something is seriously wrong with this baby. And whatever it is he/she will be special needs. That baby will require a lifetime of special attention. Doctors visits, expensive medical procedures, specialized daycares and special schools. I’ve seen the amount of dedication, love and effort the parents of special needs kids put forth and it is EXTRAORDINARY. It’s also tough. Dealing with bureaucrats at all levels of government, advocating for your kid at every turn and being a professional squeaky wheel. If you need evidence of how unbelievable these parents are, just click on over to Tanis at the Redneck Mommy who is an absolutely amazing example of this.

But I’m not sure I’m that good of a person.

Seriously. The thought of having a special needs child terrifies me. In part because I can’t imagine what that child will go through over the years, but also because I can’t imagine that kind of lifelong struggle as a parent. I don’t think I’m emotionally prepared for that, and I’m definitely not financially ready for that kind of undertaking. So if something was really, really wrong, what would happen? Obviously MJ and I would need to talk, but terminating the pregnancy would be an option on the table. Which is terrifying in and of itself.

But then I think back to an event I covered last week at a school devoted to helping students with disabilities of all kinds. As a reporter I blended into the background and did my job, which is to observe. I saw these kids, happy as can be, in caps and gowns ready to earn diplomas. Some of them graduating from the modified high school, others from a program that gets older kids ready to lead a semi-independent life in the outside world. And then I saw their parents. Specifically I focused on one family gathered near the aisle preparing to watch their son walk to the graduation stage. They were obviously divorced because the mom had a guy and the dad had a woman. They were both welling up with tears. And then the dad glanced at his ex-wife with tears and a smile. He walked over to her and gave her this HUGE hug. She hugged him back and looked at him. They never said a word. They didn’t have to. I could see how long and hard a road it was to this day. Who knows, it may have even played into their divorce. But regardless, the pride and utter joy they were feeling at that particular moment was transcendent. Pure. And tangible. A mega payoff at the end of a seemingly endless journey.

I’ll admit, it moved me. And I thought about my unborn baby and what would happen if I was in a similar boat. And this made me think maybe I could do it.

Until I saw that tuition for this school is $68,000 a year.

Again, I know we’re not there yet and probably won’t be. But something like this makes you think and I barely slept last night. MJ is a wreck too. I’m just hoping as hard as possible that nothing is wrong, because while I don’t think I’m strong enough to be the parent of a special needs child, I may not be capable of making the other almost unthinkable decision either.

In the meantime I’m letting MJ drink some caffeine this morning so hopefully we can jolt the kid into moving around and get those legs separated. Now is no time to be proper kiddo.


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19 thoughts on “What If?

  1. It is always such a worry. You know that you would always love your child no matter what, but you also wish like crazy for it ‘not to happen to you’ crazy and selfish though that thought is, it’s human.

    best of luck with everything

  2. Sending good thoughts and prayers your way. But I must share that I never answered “what if” questions with my students, and now with my kids. They are never any good in any situation.
    Focus on the now and what you can do.
    My best.

  3. There’s nothing I can say but I’m thinking of you guys and hoping for the best.

  4. So sorry Aaron. This is a hard time to be going through. I have no advice really to give on this. But maybe I can give you a thought that if the outcome is worse or just not so great case scenario, of all couples who can endure a difficult time and find a silver lining, you guys can be the ones.
    You’re in my thoughts. Hope that things turn around soon.

  5. First… all fingers here are crossed for good news for you & your wife this afternoon. Secondly – and speaking as the parent of a special needs kid – you don’t have to be a good person to find yourself in that scenario. Trust me on this.

  6. Thinking positive thoughts and sending positive vibes from Everett MA.

    And I had the same thoughts about having a child with special needs during my wife’s first pregnancy.

  7. Praying for your family right now. As hard as this is, you are not alone for you have the blogoverse walking right beside you.

  8. (unxpctdblessing from Twitter here)

    I am a parent of a special needs child. Before our daughter was born, we thought everything was fine. We thought we’d give birth, spend overnight in the hospital and then go home. But it didn’t happen that way. 30 minutes after her birth, she was diagnosed with a cleft palate and my world crashed in on me. Everyone left the room and I freaked out. I watched Discovery Health Channel and marveled at the strength parents of special needs kids had never thinking I would one day join their ranks. Yet suddenly there I was. At that point I had no real clue as to what was going on – I remember the fear, the panic, the Oh SHIT what the hell just happened feelings swelling in my chest.

    I’m going to ask you to do just one thing as you go through this with your wife that my husband did not do while we were struggling. BE HONEST with her about how you are feeling. Don’t pretend you’re okay if you’re really not. Especially if she asks you and tells you she needs to know she’s not alone in being scared or upset or whatever. She needs to know she’s not alone in this. Ask for counseling referrals if you need them. It’s okay to lean on professionals as you go through this. Don’t do it alone.

    Sending lots and lots of prayers your way today.



    Lauren (aka postpartumdadsproject @ dad-blogs)

  9. I know you’re a ‘cheerful’ agnostic but I do believe that God doesn’t give us any more than we can handle.

    Hang in there, Man. Lots of thoughts and prayers coming your way.

  10. My family’s thoughts and prayers are with you and yours. Hopefully the next ultrasound will prove to be more conclusive.

  11. Weak sauce, dude.

    Hey, look on the bright side. If you had a special needs kid, not only would you find a way to make things work (because i have faith in my fellow agnostics), but you’d probably get handicapped license plates and would have awesome parking forever.

  12. Hi, I found your blog through your post on BC. So much of what you say here resonates with me. In respect to your privacy, and the details you may or may not want to share, i just want to let you know that we have a story similar to yours (prenatal diagnosis). If you want to read more, please see my blog, on the label “Ariana, the littlest angel”.

    Stay strong. Prenatal diagnosis’ is terrifying in its uncertainty, and the lack of knowledge is a hard time for any family to face. If you want to talk, you have my email address.

    Love to you and your wife.

  13. Hey man- I am not going to sugar coat things and say that everything is going to be alright because I can’t say that for certain. I can say that I have been where you are. We were told that my daughter had spinal bifida or Down’s Syndrome and went through weeks of hell because of it. Fortunately it was incorrect and I am grateful.

    But the one thing that I feel comfortable saying is that parenting is one of those things that stretches you, teaches you that you have skills/abilities that you didn’t know you had. I suspect that whatever happens here will be something that you and your wife manage.

    Anyway, hang in there.

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