‘I’m under the impression you already know your baby is missing its left hand.’ The doctor looked mortified.’: Couple learns of daughter’s limb difference, ‘angry’ after doctor suggests termination

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“My phone rang as I was sitting in a restaurant an hour after my 20-week scan, it was my doctors’ number. My heart sank as I answered the phone, ‘We couldn’t get a clear image, so we want you to go to Calgary for a special 3D scan. Nothing is wrong it’s just precautionary.’ My gut told me he wasn’t telling me something.

One week later we were in the big city for my 3D scan. It was an ultrasound that lasted almost 3 hours. THREE hours!!!  While waiting in one room I looked at my husband and said something is wrong, regular ultrasounds don’t take this long nor do they get this much attention from staff. This wasn’t my first pregnancy, so I knew what to except to happen at a typical ultrasound and this wasn’t it.

After the ultrasound was finally done, we weren’t given a picture and sent on our way, like normally. A nurse took us to a little office type room and said the Doctor will be with you shortly. Something was definitely not right, the lump in my throat, the pain in my heart, my intuition, that awful feeling of the unknown was telling me to prepare myself. I can still smell the pungent cleaner that room smelled so strongly of. Then the door opened, and 2 people walked in the room, a woman and a man. The women introduced herself as doctor…, she then followed her introduction with what felt like a massive punch in the gut. ‘ I’m under the impression you both already know your baby is missing its left hand.’ All I could manage to gasp out was a ‘no’ before bursting into tears.

The poor doctor looked mortified she had just given us this news like that thinking my OB had told us. She gave me a minute to try and compose myself and then started to introduce the male doctor that had come in with her. This is Docotor… he wants to talk to you about your options of termination, we know it’s a big decision so we will allow you to terminate up to 27 weeks. I immediately saw red. What else was wrong with our precious baby that would make them think this is the route we would choose? My face must have gone white as a ghost, because my husband asked what else is wrong with the baby in which she response was they wouldn’t know until further testing was done but explained that there was a chance a lot of more serious things could be wrong. The male doctor handed me papers explaining our options of termination. I didn’t even give Chris a chance to say anything because the red I was seeing just came spewing out of my mouth, through my crying ‘that’s not an option for us, if it’s just a hand missing this baby can have more than a good quality life’. The female doctor said they would give us some time to process it. There is not enough time they can give you to process news like that.  As soon as they left the room the tears, oh the tears I cried. They were heartbroken tears, confused tears, scared tears and angry tears.  It all felt like a bad dream to be honest, one that you just can’t wake up from. The drive back to the house was spent crying and in silence as Chris and I were in shock. Did that really just happen? Nothing can prepare you for news like that, nothing…

We had a wonderful, healthy 3-year-old son at home how are we going to explain all of this to him? I had suffered a miscarriage 5 months before I got pregnant with this baby, did I do something wrong? Did I cause this? The immense amount of guilt I felt was gut wrenching.

How are we going to tell our families who were all anxiously waiting to hear from us about our appointment? I didn’t really want to repeat what was just told to us, if I said it out loud it would then become real. Looking back it makes me sad, the endless appointments, the endless opinions, the endless what if’s, people that were supposed to be on your side were not supportive of our decision (the reason I ultimately lost a friendship over) it was all too much and it was probably the most stressful/heartbreaking time in my life. But if I only knew then what I know now, I could have enjoyed my pregnancy so much more.

The news we were given was not something we were open about, only our family knew and a couple close friends. People would ask how my pregnancy was going and I would just put a smile on my face and say good as if everything was normal and great. It felt like I had a dark secret that I didn’t want to tell. Not because I was embarrassed or ashamed, I just knew I didn’t have the emotional strength to answer all the questions that would come with the news. Not to mention we ourselves didn’t have any answers. We decided not to do any genetic testing as we felt it was too risky and whatever the results were going to be wouldn’t change our minds about having the baby. The stress of the unknown is a cold eerie feeling that can lead to so many different emotions. Emotions that make you feel alone, like no one else could possibly know how you are feeling. I am so thankful for the support we got from the few people that knew what we were going through. You really figure out who truly cares about you in situations like this. A hard lesson to learn but an important one!

Fast forward to November 15th, 2017. It was still dark as night out when we headed to the hospital for my c-section. I didn’t sleep the night before; my brain couldn’t shut off wondering what would happen when our beautiful baby was born. I knew whatever the outcome would be I had the most amazing husband with me and we both knew our baby would be given a wonderful life and loved unconditionally.

As they prepped me for surgery my body was trembling, my nerves were taking over, the tears started to pour down my face. Terrified of the unknowns about to be unveiled. The OR staff were amazing, they did everything they could to comfort me. There were more people than usual in the OR prepared with a plan for the worst-case scenarios. Everyone was a bit tense hoping for the best but preparing for the worst and still trying to not show me their anxiousness. This was hard because you could feel the tension in the room. As the nurse told Chris to stand up and look so he could announce babes’ gender, she was just too excited she yelled out ‘it’s a girl!’ before Chris could say anything! Everyone looked so relieved, the feeling of tension in the room had lifted. They whisked our baby girl away to examine her. You could feel how relieved everyone in the room was when she appeared to be a healthy baby girl! I could feel the joy in the room, the same nurse that couldn’t hold her excitement back now couldn’t hold her tears of relief back although she was trying.

My baby girl was placed on my chest and I was instantly in love.  I knew in my heart at that moment our beautiful baby girl, Parker Elizabeth Skye was beyond perfect!

Courtesy Renee Duthie

It has been an emotional journey for me as Parker’s Mom, I wanted to protect her from the stares and the ignorant comments that we get sometimes. It took me until she turned 6 months old to share a picture showing Parker’s hand, I wasn’t sure how people would react, people can be so mean, and I didn’t know how I would handle it. This is something I’m still working on, not overreacting to the ignorance, the Mama bear in me wants to protect her from the harshness the world can bring when you don’t fit societies idea of ‘normal’. Parker is 2 years old now and she doesn’t let her limb difference slow her down one bit, she amazes us every day! She has taught us so much already and changed us in the most wonderful way. We will continue to educate on limb differences and celebrate being unique! You are going to do big things Parker, the ‘skye’ is your limit baby girl!

If I only knew then what I know now…”

Courtesy Renee Duthie

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Renee Duthie. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more inspiring stories of children with limb difference:

‘What? No hands?’ My Dad was minutes away from picking my husband up. The Universe chose me to be Ivy’s mom.’: Mother learns of daughter’s limb difference, refuses terminating pregnancy because ‘she was ours to love, protect’

‘I looked down at my wedding ring, and my heart broke. Where would she wear a wedding ring?’: Mother learns of child’s limb difference diagnosis, looks at her as ‘my perfect daughter’

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