September 5, 2013
Living with a Birth Defect
Dear Dr. Laura,
In September, my husband and I will have been married for four years. He and I have both listened to you for years. I knew he was a good man when I married him, and over time I have come to appreciate him more and more, but most profoundly in the last three months.
We have a precious daughter who just turned two, and the joy my husband has being a father has been wonderful to see. He loves to dance with her, play and tumble, hike, and swim in the waves at the beach. He has always loved the outdoors and physical sports and now loves to share that with her. He is a born coach.
I had our second daughter in April. It was a healthy pregnancy, but she came a few weeks early. When I went into labor, the doctors discovered she was breech and after trying unsuccessfully to turn her, I had to have an emergency C-section. When she was born, my husband got to see her first and I knew from his face that something was wrong. He did not want to worry me while I was in surgery, but the doctors only showed me my daughter briefly wrapped in a blanket before taking her to the NICU for "observation". After the surgery was complete, my husband told me that one of her legs was shorter than the other. To be honest, I was so worried about the attempts to turn her and the surgery, that I was relieved it was nothing more serious. He was shaken up badly though.
We learned she was born without her left femur. Nothing was detected in the prenatal care to indicate this was a possibility, so it was a complete shock to us both. As I recovered in the hospital, I went online to search about her condition. I was appalled at what I found. Most of the blogs from parents talked about "How will this affect MY life?" "Should I abort?" "What will people think about ME?" "Why me? Why ME? WHY ME?"
Never once in the last three months has my husband asked "Why me?" He has been so strong and so selfless. Through everything he has been a source of comfort and strength. I know he worries for our daughter. He worries she will be teased, she will be embarrassed, she might not be able to enjoy the world physically the way he and my older daughter do. But all of his worries are about her and her quality of life, not himself. She will face challenges I cannot possibly predict, but I know he will be the best man to teach her to meet those challenges with strength and confidence. He will demand she settle for nothing less than her best effort, while encouraging her with his patience and joy. We will face the future together as a family, and take it one challenge at a time. If he ever does ask, "Why me?" I have the answer: It is because she will need to have the love and strength that only comes from a good father, and that he is the best man to be her daddy.
Thank you for all that you do, and your advice to "choose wisely." I know I did.
Posted by Staff at 11:00 AM