We’re here, using whatever we can to justify the killing of the unborn — unwanted, special needs, birth defects — that’s quite a loaded one, the last one. Let’s talk about it. I’ve got some things to say.
I was adopted at 3hrs old. My parents waited 7yrs for me. My sister is their biological kid, a surprise. (I love to tell her I was the one they actually wanted, and she was a mistake. She loves that.) Those of you who know me very well know my childhood wasn’t perfect — but I had one. My birth mother was 15yrs old and could have aborted me, but instead I got this imperfect, messy life. A life I’m fucking grateful for. Full stop.
But, that’s just some feel-good horseshit that any hack could come up with, and I led with birth defects, didn’t I? Well, I’m a stickler for details.
Transposition of the great arteries. Hypoplastic left ventricle. Tetralogy of Fallot. (Actually, 25+ major and minor heart defects.) Undiagnosed until she was 6 months old. I’ve been reading many heartbreaking testimonials of parents who found out, in utero, that their child had one or a handful of the defects my first child had. Advised to abort, so they did. Not judging, really.
Knowing the outcome — three open heart surgeries, five hospitalizations, not being able to take a plane or travel above 7k ft, the fear, the exhaustion, the sword of Damocles hanging over our heads, the pure devastation of that morning in June when she stopped breathing at the hospital. The cold wait in the hallway. The long walk to the car with its empty car seat. The silence. The funeral, the procession, the heat of the midday sun at the graveside.
The discovery of true heartbreak.
The empty rooms.
Always feeling like I’ve left something behind when I move.
The leaves full of children.
Knowing all of that, would I have chosen to end it before it began? Before I began to bleed out? To circumvent that hurt?
I learned what love meant. I’d never been in love before and I’d certainly never known heartbreak. I had nearly three years of living in the moment — because that’s all you can do, given a sentence like that. Choosing to acknowledge the most likely outcome and living straight toward it. Knowing the damage it will incur. Choosing damage. Having the experience but never missing the meaning. Never missing a fucking second of that meaning.
It sucked. It sucks. It doesn’t get better. It alters your relationship with the world around you, with other people — when you find precious humans, you are simultaneously all in and agonizingly aware of the sword hanging over your head. Everything ends. All men die. The only constant is change.
Who I am was irreparably changed by that sweet girl face I met on September 7th, long ago. She changed everything about me, and is still changing everything about me, even though her time here is over.
I hear about birth defects and the burdens that go along with them and think, fuck you, I’d give anything for those burdens. But we’re only given what we can handle. And some of you…
[insert crying girlfriend gif from the Rochelle, Rochelle episode of Seinfeld]