Posted by Duff

I’m the luckiest mom on the planet,  but for most of yesterday, I was full of crap.

If you’ve met her, you know the Dervish is good people.  Yesterday, I was reminded of the tough sell she can also be: The Screamer, The Smacker, The One Who Wouldn’t Be Entertained. The One Who Wears Me Down.

When she finally napped (two hours late), I sat down with a book: My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult. On page 64, I was reminded that I can’t afford to stop being grateful.

Often during the last two years, but pretty much every day lately, I have remembered the morning of my 20-week ultrasound. As I brushed my teeth, I was nervously excited to see the Dervish on screen. I felt my perspective about to change.

It sure as hell did.

Minutes into the scan, the tech got quiet, perfunctory. She left suddenly, dodging questions. We were ushered into an office, flooded with terminology, and given the quickest available appointment with the hospital Genetics department (Please don’t make these people wait any longer than they have to.). It was surreal to be these people. Unfathomable to be told that after those results, we could discuss.our.options.

The Dervish (and I) had a two vessel umbilical cord. A single umbilical artery. A normal cord has three vessels (1 vein, 2 arteries). This meant that one artery would have to do the work of two. By itself, not much cause for concern. 1% of live births have this condition. (The word ‘live’ slapped me. Just how many are born ‘still’?).  However, another unfortunate marker appeared on the scan, and that meant visible pity from our informers.

Somehow, we left the office, with another appointment, three days later. I had three days to Google, speculate, and cry. I did all three for three days. Seems chances were 66.666667% that I’d have a healthy baby, 33.333333% that she would have either no life on the outside, or a relatively short and difficult one. Nothing like inconclusive test results to invoke an expectant mother’s inner pessimist.

I started mourning my child’s missed opportunities. Worrying that my brand new marriage would be over in a few days. How would we make tough decisions if they had to be made? How could any decision be the right one? How would we ever look at each other and not think of that decision and its consequences?

My husband gripped the steering wheel on the way to our next appointment. Wearing a crisp button down shirt the color of his eyes, he admitted he thought that if he looked put together, the news couldn’t be bad. But he was so nervous he forgot to breathe, and swallowed in a hard gulp.

The second marker was, mercifully, a machine error.

The umbilical cord diagnosis stood, but there was no visible reason to think the Dervish had any health issues. She might be born as early as 32 weeks, she might have some kidney damage, we’d have to wait until she was born to know for sure.

She is more than fine.

I have no business being annoyed at her volume; her lungs have fantastic capacity because they’re healthy. It’s unforgivable for me to be frustrated that she won’t sit still, that she will climb anything upright – her motor skills are stellar. The kid who has never liked toys would prefer my company, wants to include me in everything she does, share with me everything she sees. How dare I not appreciate that?

When the Dervish woke up from her nap, I sat her on my lap and wound her triumphant curls around my fingers. I could not breathe without her.

And then she worked me over until she had exhausted herself for the day. You have to respect someone as committed to her life’s purpose as she is. I do.

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