There’s been a lot of talk here and on other blogs about loss lately, perceptions and definitions of, along with finger-pointing, blame-laying, name calling, anger, resentment … blah, blah, blah … as a downward spiral picked up momentum, but I’ve no stomach for it today.
While some mothers have been busy coming up with names to call me … “Skanks”. Ah, imagine the brain that put that together! The word “simple” comes to mind … accusing me of not showing respect (they having apparently lost the capacity to read), and assuming themselves into a moron box, another mother… a dear friend — kind, gentle, loving … has being doing something else completely, and her week puts all this yapping about loss in perspective. My tolerance for base nastiness and stupidity has certainly dropped.
Eighteen weeks pregnant with her second child … her son is almost two … follow-up ultrasounds revealed that the baby she carried is anencephalic.
Anencephaly is a cephalic disorder that results from a neural tube defect that occurs when the cephalic (head) end of the neural tube fails to close, usually between the 23rd and 26th day of pregnancy, resulting in the absence of a major portion of the brain, skull, and scalp. Infants with this disorder are born without a forebrain, the largest part of the brain consisting mainly of the cerebral hemispheres (which include the isocortex, which is responsible for higher level cognition, i.e., thinking). The remaining brain tissue is often exposed – not covered by bone or skin.
Infants born with anencephaly are usually blind, deaf, unconscious, and unable to feel pain.
(Blind is a bit misleading, as that seems to indicate sightless eyes, but because the eyes are actually part of the brain there are none. This site has more on the condition. The images are VERY graphic, however, so click with caution.)
Getting the news was an unimaginable blow. It was followed by a medical recommendation to terminate the pregnancy.
My friend and her husband are not in the first blush of youth. Their son was born only after a concerted effort to conceive, and they were over the moon when this second pregnancy was confirmed. They kept the news under wraps throughout the first trimester … just in case … and breathed a well-earned sigh of relief when that passed without incident.
Back and forth between “God’s will” and fears of how to go through the pregnancy, birth and death of their second child without scaring their first … worries about the mother’s health and how continuing on this course would compromise the chance of a viable child in the future … fear, sorrow and overwhelming pity for the child.
They sought and received second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth ultrasounds and opinions; all saw the same thing — a tiny baby with a completely open head with nothing in it.
There is no known cause of anencephaly, but that didn’t keep my friends from attempts to shoulder guilt and punish themselves, but turning inward couldn’t mitigate the anger at the powers that would create such a pitifully cruel circumstance.
None of this, however, could stay the decision. It had to be made.
Through medical means, my friend birthed this child, and the parents spent time with this daughter that could not ever be. They say she had beautiful hands.