Moving the Goalposts
When ‘alive and healthy’ was enough…..why do we go and move the goalposts?
Three years ago when I found out I was pregnant with my first son, we were full of wonder, excitement and anticipation. From the moment you realize you are bringing a life into the world, your mind races through a myriad of thoughts, some negative most of them positive. The obvious one- Will it be a boy or a girl? What will they look like? And the most important one, I hope they are healthy. For me, many months were spent worrying about the health of my unborn baby, I just wanted so much for this new person to be perfect, as do all parents. Unlike before, when you woke up, saw it was to sleep for the rest of the day, You wake up every day, open your eyes and remember you are pregnant, and you feel a love and warmth that filters through to every inch of your body, for the first time in your life you are not alone.
At our twenty week scan, things took a turn for the worst. I noticed during the scan that the technician spent a little too long hovering in one area, a little too long on his tiny spine, a look of worry lingered too long on her face. I knew something wasn’t right, but she remained silent and it was forgotten about until I picked up the results the following day. I know I shouldn’t have but the ‘nosey’ bugger in me couldn’t resist it. I opened the envelope and read the report. All I could see was the words the ‘abnormality’ and deformity’. The world closed in on me, I couldn’t breathe, I read it again, and again, each time a little bit harder through the tears. I called my husband immediately, and being the optimist that he is, assured me everything would be okay. The pessimist in me, knew that it was not okay. I called my doctor immediately who then told me to come and see her as early as possible the very next day, I felt momentary relief knowing something was in motion, anything was better than just standing still. I remember going home and my husband calling a family friend of his who happened to be a doctor, I could tell from the conversation that it wasn’t good. My husband had never outwardly waivered in his strength and positivity, in the worst of times he was a tower, to see him doubt anything was a massive blow, It was the worst night I can ever remember. Google was our enemy as we looked at images of children born with Spina Bifida. Waking up the next day, I opened my eyes and for the first time since being pregnant and for the first time I wasn’t excited, Love and excitement no longer filtered, it had been replaced with an empty, sad poison For the first time in my pregnancy, I felt dread. How could I be excited. I received an early phone call from my GP, cancelling our appointment and telling us to head straight to our capital city (1 hour ) away to see a specialist. This was the worst blow, it was obviously bad if we had to go into the city. The drive there was the longest I can remember. I felt nothing. I could feel my baby kicking me and for the first time, I didn’t want to answer back. I kept thinking, in an hour we will know the fate of our little baby. On the way I remember us deciding that we would find out the sex of our baby, just in case we came home without him.
An hour later, our lives returned to normal. Everything would be okay. Our nightmare had only lasted 24 hours. Sadly this was not the case for most who shared the waiting room that day. For most who waited with us in the diagnostic centre received bad news, this nightmare became reality for many of them. The realization that the perfect child inside was now somewhat ‘tarnished’, ‘defected’ or ‘abnormal’. What strength it would have taken to walk away and carry on with that knowledge in hand.
This scare remains a defining moment in my life. At one point I remember thinking’ please let everything be okay, I don’t care about anything else right now’.
Isn’t it funny how we then move the goal posts. Once we know things are okay, we push the boundaries again and start wanting for more. I hope he is clever. I hope he is good looking. I hope he is good at sport. As a teacher I hoped he didn’t suffer from a learning disability. Even up until he was delivered, I still feared the worst. The first thing I asked was ‘Is his back okay?’ Three years down the track I worry if his teeth will be straight, if he is developing properly, and then I remind myself of my early ambitions. I just hope he is alive. I look at my beautiful boy everyday, and am thankful he is here.
I wonder how different life would be if we had been like the others in the waiting room that day. Where are those parents? and what had become of their perfect babies. I so admire those who have been faced with this situation in a ‘real; capacity and have had the strength to move forward, whatever the future held.
It’s funny that I had even forgotten about this small time in my life until talking to a pregnant friend today. I looked at her today and the memories came flooding back. I remembered the hopes and aspirations a mother has for an unborn child, and then I thanked God that ‘he was okay’. And I’m sure her baby will be just ‘perfect’ as well.