Thursday, 27 June 2013

He ain't heavy, he's my brother

It was no surprise to me of course when we got pregnant.  I have always known the statistics on an increase in birth defects, miscarriages and chromosomal abnormalities for an older mom.  I am not super scared about it, because i know the statistics are still in our favour.  Tomorrow we are attending a Late Maternal Age counseling session.

At the moment I am not sure we need it, but at the time that I was first asked if we wanted to go I was certain we did.  See, the night before my very first doctor's appointment my husband and I had a fight.  A big fight.  Biggest of our marriage.  A bad fight.  A fight that shook me to my core and made me question the choices that I had made in marrying this man.  He told me that if something was "wrong" with our baby he would probably leave.

I was so angry with him.  How could he tell me this?  I remember hearing the "worst", "poorer" and "sickness" words in our marriage vows, and he agreed to it all.  He knew in advance, I hadn't sprung that part on him.  But here he was telling me that he couldn't take it if we were to face that. 

I was furious.  "You don't get to issue ultimatums to me.  We have no information.  This is a decision that we make together about whether not to continue or end a pregnancy.  Not something that you say to me as though any choice I make results in your leaving.  You chose to make this child.  You knew the risks." 

Since this time my husband has come around.  He has since told me "no abortions for us". 

Our family knows the impact that a severely disabled child has on a family first hand.  I have two beautiful nephews.  They are both special needs.  One is super bright, high functioning, ADHD, asking me about my lady parts kind of kid, my other nephew is a beautiful, laughing, smiling, wheelchair riding kind of kid.  They are both adored. 

The youngest of my two nephews is highly disabled.  He will be 7 in August and cannot walk or crawl (although he can roll his way around a house pretty fast), he can't feed himself, he uses a diaper, he can't talk much although we recognize when he says a few names.  He is also highly loved.  There isn't a single part of my body that doesn't love that little boy.  He has the best giggle in the world and I love to make him laugh.  I fell in love with him the second I first saw him.  We didn't learn about any developmental delays for months.  Even if we had known it wouldn't have changed anything.

My brother and his wife are AMAZING.  I can't say it enough.  They will fight tooth and nail for that boy.  They ensure that he has everything that he needs.  They make sacrifices and save for a future where they won't be able to care for him themselves.  They make sure he will always have everything he needs.  And they make sure that his older brother is a part of his life.  That he learns to love and accept and defend his little brother.  There were times when it was hard.  When my older nephew despaired of his younger brother ever "not being a baby".  But now he knows.  His little brother is special... and it will be his job to make sure that no one every hurts that special boy.  

My husband on the other hand met my nephew as a highly disabled 5 year old.  While he is quite charmed by the 9 year old, and likes to share tips on video games with him, he doesn't quite know how to relate to the younger boy.  He won't hold him, or hug him or play with him.

I have always been determined not to force this relationship.  But I do want to see it flourish.  I want my husband to love this wonderful boy who has a special gift for teaching us about ourselves. 

All these things go on in my head constantly.  We have out NT test next Friday and I am terrified of the results.  But it isn't just about having a disabled child.  I know I could love that child.  But I don't know that it won't make my marriage crumble.  It is amazing to watch my brother and sister-in-law support each other and make it work.  But that's so hard.  And even though my hubby has realized that he can't issue a dictate like that I don't know how he will cope in practice. 

And I am scared of my own weaknesses.  My inability to be as strong as you have to be to fight every day for that child.  My inability to provide financially for that child as well as my brother can.  My older nephew will always be there to provide for his little brother, but who would look after our child when we are gone if they can't look after themselves?


  1. No matter what happens, I hope your marriage only strengthens because of it. I believe that many times, people can handle a lot more than they think they can, and I hope that's the case for your husband.

  2. Ditto Mrs E!!! The marriage is what you make of it!! Serve each other and you will both be blessed! :)

  3. Mrs. E is right- you can handle so much more than you think you can. I remember when I was pregnant with my daughter, hubby and I were virtually TERRIFIED of having a special needs child. And then our daughter had her stroke when she was just two days old. It was a massive stroke. The doctors told us she may never walk, she could have learning disabilities, hearing problems, vision problems, speech problems, seizures etc, etc. We hadn't really thought it would happen to us. It was an awful, awful moment... BUT- it was just a moment. I sobbed hysterically. Lost my mind. For about two minutes. And then I said to the doctor, "Ok. What do we do to help her?" And that was it. My worst fear had come true, and it took a matter of two minutes for me to suck it up and endure. We have been lucky, and aside from some very, very minor issues, and seizures in the early days, none of it has come to be. But it may someday. And we now know that we will survive it. I guess I'm just sharing my story because it's a great example of the fact that even when the worst happens, we are capable of surviving. And thriving. Like you said- the odds are in your favor, but if the worst were to happen, you and hubby will get by. Hugs... it's scary stuff.

  4. First off, let me say, I'm sure the NT scan will be a lot less terrifying than you're anticipating and the results will be great -- but of course, as I've learned, there is plenty more opportunity to be scared throughout the course of a pregnancy, so that anxiety won't necessarily go away. I can relate a bit to what you're saying because as I was explaining the risk of our baby possibly having Cystic Fibrosis, my husband was all, "OK, but we'll abort if that's the case, right?", which just shocked me. Like, yes, we spoke much earlier on about what we would do if we got really bad test results in the first trimester, but you can't just say "get rid of it" at five or six months -- that's a whole other ball game. Anyway, it threw me off and we had to have a serious talk, even though I'd assumed we were on the same page about all these things.

    I think your hubby probably just has an urge to hit the "escape" button if anything goes wrong, but underneath, I'm sure he knows he'd want to stick around and support you and the baby regardless of the circumstances.