Perfect in his Imperfection

Testimony by Molly R.

I met my husband, Bob, at UCLA; we were both Economics majors and studied together. Initially, I had no idea we would be more than study buddies, but a year after graduation, we were married. We had our first son, Joe, and a little later, we were expecting our second baby, another boy!

Everything was going smoothly until my 20-week ultrasound. I was told that my son was missing a left arm and I'd have to go back for a more in-depth ultrasound. Missing a limb can be caused by serious genetic disorders that often result in the baby’s death within weeks or months of birth. I was devastated by the possibility of my baby dying within a few months of life. My heart ached.

Two days later, when my husband and I went back for the second ultrasound, we got to see our baby in 3D ultrasound. He was so cute – even the ultrasound technician said so! And best of all, we found out that he was perfectly healthy except for a missing left hand. There were no genetic disorders that might cause an early death. I was so relieved!

Then my doctor said, "You're now going to talk to the geneticist about your future options, like termination." Those might have been the most hurtful words she could have said. I had just spent the last 48 hours in complete anxiety that my son might die so young, and now she was suggesting that we could just end his life now. I had worried what people might think of our son without an arm, and here she was suggesting that his life might be less valuable because of his condition. I had just seen his heart beating, his 10 toes and 5 fingers; he was sucking his thumb. I'm sure the doctor wasn't trying to be hurtful, but I cannot imagine a more insensitive and hurtful thing to say at that time.

Then my doctor said, "You're now going to talk to the geneticist about your future options, like termination."

Our son Robert Raphael is now a little over a year old, and we just love him! He loves playing with his older brother, Joe. He can hold things, throw things, and loves to climb on things. What we have seen, and what the pediatric hand specialist assured us, is that he adapts to everything. We have learned that being born without a hand is actually significantly easier to adapt to than losing a hand in an injury because your brain adapts to it from an early age. Will there be challenges in the future? I'm sure. But at least he knows that he will always be loved!

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