No matter what people say, when your child is born with some kind of serious disability, syndrome, birth defect—or perhaps doesn’t survive at all—there comes guilt. Serious guilt. No, I haven’t spoken with all of the women in the world who have suffered this kind of hardship. I’m just making an educated guess.

Two weeks before Calvin was born my husband Michael and I learned, during a sonogram, that he had significant neurological complications. He was missing a lot of his white matter—a lot. White matter is the brain’s superhighway, as it’s been explained to me, the way the brain communicates with its various parts and with the body. We need it ... bad.

Before Calvin was born the doctors initially thought they saw evidence of hemorrhaging that might have caused further trauma to his brain. After Calvin was born that theory was debunked, though I always wondered if the doctors were just playing nice to make me feel better, you know, assuage my guilt over somehow causing a hemorrhage.

Since then I’ve racked my own brain for what might have gone so terribly wrong. Did I swim too hard too fast too long? Did I rest enough eat enough drink enough sleep enough walk enough?

Maybe I shouldn’t have dived into that pool drank that bit of wine ate that cheese pet that dog taken that flight worn those pants gotten that cold had that sex slept on my back gotten pregnant so late had that amniocentesis.

My friend had a son with some very serious complications. I'm not sure the doctors ever completely figured it out and therefore were never able to fully relieve his intermittent misery. Having never met my friend in person—only commiserating over the phone or in emails—she told me she thought, at one point, perhaps her son was afflicted as the result of her poor posture, being a woman of tall stature. While assuring her that couldn't possibly be the case I also validated her concern, which I knew came to her naturally. There’s no getting around it. Guilt. It’s just what we do.

photo by Michael Kolster

1 comment:

  1. As usual, Christy, you speak the truth, and it is as unvarnished as ever. That is what makes this story, as heart-wrenching as it is, so beautiful.