It feels like yesterday that I went to that ultrasound appointment and my pregnancy was shattered by the news that something was wrong with my baby’s brain. At the time, I couldn’t imagine my life as it is now…Lincoln is 7 months old, smiling, and hitting all of his milestones. I don’t think I could have gotten through that turbulent time without the support of my husband, my family, and my friends. Even strangers were praying for the safe delivery of my long-awaited baby.
At my baby shower, I sat center in the living room, smiling and opening up gifts and saying everything I was supposed to. “Ohhh how nice. Wow, look at this. Oh, how lovely.” But by the last gift, after holding up tiny onesies and handmade baby blankets, my emotions overcame me and I just sat there, crying in front of everyone. I couldn’t hide the fact that I was so scared and anxious. I loved my baby so much, and at the same time, I felt so afraid to love him and then loose him.
After delivery, Lincoln had an MRI that showed that his brain bleed had been confined to his cerebellum. 75% of his cerebellum had been reabsorbed from the bleed as a consequence. We left the hospital not knowing what any of that meant, or what affects he might show. I now know that the luckiest thing that happened to us was that the bleed only affected this one part of his brain, which is mainly responsible for coordination and movement. If the bleed had affected any other area, his quality of life would be much different.
We still don’t have answers as to why this happened to him. I don’t know if it will happen again. Every single day since that 20 week ultrasound appointment, I’ve talked to him and told him to “always find his way back to his mommy.” I always thought that if this were to happen to him again, later in his life, and if he was ever incapacitated I could say these words and maybe he would hear them and come back to me. Even now, now that things look so much brighter than they did when I was 5 months pregnant, I say these words to him and I pray that he never leaves me.
Being a labor and delivery nurse, I watch babies be born and sometimes the parents know in advance that their baby will have a problem or disability. I think, as nurses, we need to remember that these families go home and struggle every day to understand and accept the cards they’ve been given. I mean, what else is there to do? You just move forward, go on, continue. But no one said this had to be easy, no one said this had to be fair, and no one said you will one day get answers. As time goes on, I realize how fortunate I am that Lincoln escaped a worse fate. I have so much empathy for parents who were dealt a different hand. And as a labor and delivery nurse, I think we need to remember all of the emotions that our patients are facing when they are confronted with taking care of a sick or disabled child.
For anyone out there that had to deal with unexpected news, for those of you that couldn’t continue your pregnancy and for those of you who could, I think about you when I look at my son and I hope that you find peace with whatever situation you were given. I hope you are surrounded by supportive family and friends. And even though time goes on, and people move forward, I know that a part of you still mourns for the loss of the normalcy you expected to have. Even though Lincoln is thriving and happy, I still grieve for what happened to him. I still don’t understand why it had to happen to him, and I still wish I had answers. But for now, I’m just so happy that he is here and that he is doing so well. As time goes on, I know my fear that something else will happen to him will slowly fade away. And for now, I will do the only thing I can do…love him and cherish every moment I have with him.