19 May 2011

One Year

It was a year ago today that we learned about Ewan's broken heart.

May 19, 2010: First glimpse of Ewan, just before we heard the news

We didn't speak of it until afterward, but we each had an eerie feeling going into it that something would be wrong -- something that would challenge our convictions, something that would necessitate us rising to the cause of fighting for his life.

When the doctor came in to see us after the ultrasound tech had completed her checklist, his congratulations was sober. He told us about Ewan's heart, postulated as to the possible diagnosis, and offered an amniocentesis to see if there were any chromosomal or genetic anomalies. James remained clear-headed, but mine was whirling. I felt like I had gotten struck by a bus. They wanted to take my blood, test my DNA. He recommended taking folic acid with my next pregnancy (which I told him I had been taking regularly well in advance of my pregnancy), and I wondered why he said that when I was in the middle of this one.

He mentioned abortion over and over which, upon learning of the heart defect, I expected to hear at least once. My husband spoke for both of us when he said that would not be an option. He was clear, not the least bit ambiguous. He spoke with certainty and conviction. The doctor proposed a panel of tests that would tell us more and help us make our decision. We affirmed again clearly and in no uncertain terms we weren't going to seek to end the life of the beautiful boy they had just shown to us. For us, it simply was not an option.

And then he crossed the line.

How long have you been married?

We were just four days away from our first anniversary. He said that we were young in our marriage and still had a lot to learn about each other. He said this would put a terrible strain on our relationship. He said our relationship might not survive this.

I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

I was still stunned from the initial news, but my instinct was to jump off the table and cut the stream of words coming from his mouth. He was a medical doctor, not a psychologist or anyone we even knew or trusted. We could not have known then what would face us, but he did not know us. He did not know that Ewan had a name, and that it was not "fetus."

We left nearly three hours later. By then, most everyone who had been anticipating our news with us had the unshakable feeling that something was wrong. Our phone calls that night shared the news that we were having a boy, and then came the news about his heart. We wept with every single phone call, and I stayed home from work the next day.

I wept all the next day, too. And I had felt him move and squirm before, but that first morning after, he kicked hard and repeatedly, reminding me he was still here. He was alive and well, and he was strong.