When I was pregnant with my second child my midwife asked me if I wanted to do any genetics screening, I, at first, declined, assuring her that no information gleaned from these tests would have any bearing on whether or not I wanted the baby. She nodded, and agreed, but then asked me to reconsider.
Her reasons were valid: if there is something anomalous and you find out before the birth it will give you time to plan for the future. It will also allow you time to process the information so when you are handed you baby you can have a positive experience without any “bad” news shocking you and sullying the moment.
That made sense to me, so I consented. I got the tests and went for an ultrasound to find out the sex of the baby and any other information that they could provide.
Now, this being my second child I knew the drill. But, after the tech took all the pictures and the measurements of baby #2, there was a very long wait.
Then, I was told we were waiting for a specialist to come. My imagination went into overdrive and starting thinking of all the things that could be wrong with the unborn child.
When the specialist arrived in the ultrasound room I was is such a tizzy I was gripping the rail of the bed with white knuckles.
What? WHAT????? What is wrong with my baby??????? I wanted to shout. But I remained calm (on the outside) and let the specialist begin the conversation without me yelling at him.
“Your baby has a deformation. It’s a congenital defect.”
Yes, yes!!! I am screaming in my head. Stop beating around the bush and TELL ME!
“You are having a little girl.”
OOOHHHH, I am having a girl!!! I have a boy already and now I will have a girl! I am elated, but get to the deformation!!!!!! What is wrong with my little girl!!!!!!!!!!
“She has unilateral congenital talipes equinovarus of the left side.”
OK. Wait, what? I blankly stare at the specialist. My rudimentary understanding of Latin tells me that this has something to do with horses and feet. I am very confused.
She has a clubfoot. Her left foot is crooked.
No cancer. No heart defect. No Spina Bifida. Her foot is crooked.
“What does that mean for us? Can it be fixed? Will she need special shoes for the rest of her life? Will she limp?” I ask.
Long explanation shortened: Castings while correcting the foot, and then orthotic shoes and brace. Yes. No. No.
And now the good news: It’s only on one foot instead of both, and the treatment is while she is a baby and she only needs to wear the brace until she is 4 or 5, depending on the severity of the foot.
Then, she will live a normal life and no one will ever know that she was born with a clubfoot.
After the appointment was over my hubby and I went to the front waiting room at the hospital to sit down and chat. I will admit I was upset. No one wants anything to be “wrong” with their unborn child. I told him I needed to cry a bit, which I did, and then focused on the good of the situation.
I still had many months before my little girl would be born (I was having a little girl!!!!). I had plenty of time to research and plan, find doctors and make appointments, learn about the brace and orthotic shoes, find others who have children with clubfeet. I had a mission, a focus, and since I had done the ultrasound I had the TIME to plan for the future.
My little girl was born one afternoon in early March 3 years ago with a shock of black hair, gorgeous full lips, and a crooked left foot.
She was perfect in every way.
In a few months she will be 4 and I am anxiously awaiting the day we get the go ahead from her pediatric orthopedic doctor that we can ditch her “magic shoes” as we call them.
In the meantime, she will continue to excel at tap and ballet, and play lots of soccer (the doctor told us that these activities are a form of physical therapy to keep her foot strong and flexible).
The photo to the right was taken the day the last of 6 casts was taken off. Can you tell which one was crooked?
Neither can I.
If you would like to learn more about congenital talipes equinovarus, here are some links that were invaluable to me.
Wikipedia Article: Club Foot
This post was inspired by The Dinner, a novel by Herman Koch. Two brothers and their wives sit down for a tension filled dinner to discuss a tragedy that can change both families’ lives forever. Join From Left to Write on October 29 as we discuss The Dinner. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.