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To the Mother Crying Over Her Baby's Spina Bifida Diagnosis

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Dear me on diagnosis day,

The ultrasound technician, the maternal fetal specialist and the neurosurgeon finally all exited the room, and I see you break down sobbing, alone with your husband. The floodgates have been reopened.

After seeing three different doctors at three separate practices, each with their own ultrasounds and testing, you’ve been given three different spina bifida diagnoses for your unborn daughter, each progressively worse. This one, the third and final diagnosis, brought with it a good chance that your daughter would never walk. I know you’re absolutely heartbroken. You spend the remainder of your pregnancy crying. Every day, you cry. You mourn for the healthy, happy, perfect baby girl you’d always wanted but would never have. You dread her differences that will make her stand out from other children. You fear she won’t get to do all the things other people will do. You grieve for her additional struggles in life. And you’re overwhelmed with all the aspects of care she might require.

Looking back, I see you, a heartbroken mother whose soul is being crushed by this diagnosis. Everything you’d envisioned for the future is changed, and coping with that struggle is often more than you can bear.

Come here, let’s leave this hospital room. Let me show you your daughter now, as a 7-month-old.

baby with spina bifida

She’s absolutely beautiful, isn’t she? Look how she smiles in sheer delight just at the sight of you. That smile illuminates the whole house with happiness. She’s perfect in every way. She’s completely, without a doubt, the healthy, happy, perfect baby girl you’ve always dreamed of. She is the best thing to ever happen to you. There’s no more need to cry. There’s no need to mourn your daughter’s future life. She will be fine. She is fine. You will be fine, too. Her life will be just as fulfilling and beautiful as you’d envisioned for her. This diagnosis is less scary in person than it is on paper. She will have some struggles, but it’s nothing you can’t handle, I promise.

As I leave you in the hospital room, wipe your tears. Please, don’t spend another night crying. Celebrate your pregnancy and get excited for the arrival of your perfect daughter. I can’t wait for you to hold her. And she can’t wait to meet you.

mom holding baby

Originally published: January 26, 2015
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