Perfect. Less Than Perfect.

As we pass the 36th week, the greatest thing thus far is how relatively smoothly the pregnancy has gone. There was some morning sickness early on and some fatigue, but Clancy’s health has remained solid. As of a couple weeks ago, and the situation with her weight (that she has been struggling with since the move – so this was of particular concern) has been far better than we had expected.

A little while back, Rose had a post on comparative disabilities and her struggle to find sympathy for those that have kids with minor disabilities given her own child’s considerably more severe disabilities. I was reminded about an episode of Nip/Tuck involving two of the protagonists, Sean and Julia, and the later-in-life pregnancy of the latter. At first they were relatively enthusiastic, and then they found out the little guy was going to have Ectrodactyly (“claw hands”) and completely melted down.

Now, the show at this point was reaching down into excessive melodrama (I’d recommend the first season to just about anyone, though, without hesitation), so I’m not sure what the writer’s intent was. The result, though, was to make me detest the characters. Immediately advocating for an abortion on the basis of hands? I can vaguely understand on the basis of “We’ll try again, and maybe the next one won’t have this problem” but not so much in a late-in-life and unintended pregnancy.

With my wife being of “advanced maternal age”, as well as other things I won’t get into, there were a list of concerns about potential problems. We got the probability-determination for the Trisomies at the earliest opportunity. The results were good enough that we decided not to get an amnio. There was one thing, though. The doctor and technician couldn’t quite agree, but one of them thought that they saw… a cleft palate.

Cleft palates can actually be a big deal for non-cosmetic reasons (I have to confess that I didn’t know that). However, in this case, if it was there it was small. If it was small, it can be be removed on the tiniest of infants. Further, there was a doctor in town that was so good he would fly a grandchild out from the northeast to have it done out here. This would have zero impact on Jumping Bean’s life.

Reaction to this among the few people that we told varied, though of course nobody responded in the Sean/Julia vein. I had sort of been waiting for a shoe to drop and as far as this one went, we’d approach it as we got to it. I’d be lying if I said that I was unphased. It was, in a sense, the first indication that Jumping Bean might be… less than perfect. It gave me at least a little bit of insight into the Sean/Julia reaction. If not the all-out-freak-out, then the big of disconcerting even a small thing can bring. Their issue was bigger than ours.

There was no cleft palate. That was the good news of the second visit. The third visit gave us warning of something else: Jumping Bean is breech. Now, babies start out that way most of the time or always and then flip at some point. In this case, though, 90% of babies have flipped and JB has not. There would still be a 67% chance JB wold flip late, but for a variety of reasons Clancy’s considered judgment is that it will not happen in this case without a version.

In the event of a breech, Clancy will go to c-section. Which, for a obstetrics doctor who favors letting nature run its course, is a bit of a bitter pill to swallow. She would have been interested in midwifery or homebirth if we lived in a place that it was possible and circumstance permitted. This was really not on the agenda.

Clancy has commented before that pregnancy is your body’s way of letting you know that you are not in control anymore. Preparing you for the next phase, wherein your control over your own life is greatly diminished. She typically means this in the sense of sickness, exhaustion, body changes, and so on. I suppose, in a sense, it may apply to this to. And as with the cleft palate, in the greater scheme of things, this isn’t Ectrodactyly, much less something serious.

So in that sense, a solid thank you to Sean and Julia for teaching by way of their negative example.

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.


  1. The likelihood of a C-section is ironic, but this post seems to be good news overall.

    Obviously, we all hope the cleft palate thing turns out to be a false alarm, but how great that if it is a reality, you’ve got a top guy right there to step in and solve it at an early stage such that it will not impact Jumping Bean at all.

    How goes the accumulation of materials for the nest?

  2. I also refused to flip and ended up being a c-section.

    If JB has the misfortune to lose his or her hair? You should know that a c-section will help make sure that their bald, bald head looks awesome.

  3. If you have a strong stomach, watch the C-section. It’s a really wild thing to see, but not for the squeamish.

  4. Zazzy and I have had a number of conversations about this as we have gone to the doctor for all the various tests. Thus far, all news has been good or great, which we are quite thankful about. Still, there is a long road ahead (today marks week 13).

    Leaving aside that the folks in question were fictional characters designed to “entertain”, I’d struggle to judge any parent’s response, at least in the moment. Since finding out that Zazzy was pregnant, I have had expectations in a way that I never had before. Expectations for my yet-to-be-born child, expectations for my wife, for me, for us as parents, for us as a couple, for all of us as a family, for what our lives will be like. Etc. None of these expectations, these visions of our future, involve, say, Down syndrome, something the preliminary tests indicate we are low risk for. But suppose we were high risk? Or knew definitively that this would our child’s and our fate? That would be a hard pill to swallow, at least immediately. Immediately, it would seem, all of those expectations would be dashed. And, most frighteningly of all, there would be nothing I could do about it.

    Now, there is a lot of question-begging going on. And a lot of largely irrational thought processes. Who’s to say that the vast majority of my expectations could not still be fulfilled? Why could I not still be the father of a warm, loving family just because one of the members has Down syndrome? While I may not be able to control the baby’s chromosomes, I can certainly control how we respond to them, right?

    But in the moment… if that test comes back and tells you, “All that stuff you dreamed? It is not going to be exactly as you pictured it”… I don’t know that I would be proud of my immediate reaction.

    • I am of the mind that everybody has a right to their emotional reaction to things that occur. It’s how long they last, and what we do with them, that’s most important. Sort of “Okay, you’ve slept on it… now what?”

      • Duly noted. This is how I explain it to my students…

        There is no such thing as a wrong feeling. There are such things as wrong actions based upon feelings.

        • A friend of mine with a kid with Ridiculously Rare syndrome said they left the geneticist office crying, and her husband said she had one day to cry it out before she had to get her act together.

          Which seems….borderline abusive?

          I must have cried every day for a over a month, and not infrequently after that. This friend said she cried every single day for a full year. I STILL have rare moments of welling up. It does not mean you do not absolutely adore your kid and wouldn’t dash into a burning house to save him.

          Anyhow. I am so excited for both of you. Parenthood changes absolutely everything and is such a wonderful privilege.

  5. Kazzy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Did not know you were a parent to be!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Allow me to say, my immediate reaction, at least, wasn’t pretty. Ask Russell. He was there. I don’t know anyone’s who was. If they say they were, I think they either have a lot of experience with disability or are lying.

    And all of you. If your children were not “perfect” You would panic. You would be horribly upset. You would grieve. And you would adjust. And a little of you would always grieve. But you would adjust. I guarantee it.

    Despite my impatience with other people complaining over minor issues, I still panic over relatively minor stuff in my typical children. Again, ask Russell about a recent spate of panicked texts about my 9 month old who army crawls and does not go from lying to sitting independently yet.

    I’m glad there is no cleft palate. I’ve been through 2 C-sections. Vaginal is preferable. But you know. Healthy baby above all, and all.

    • Damnit, Rose, you need to read the FP! I threw a post up in “Off the Cuff”. Should still be there. Of course, in my nature, you actually had to click through to realize I was talking about something important and not something useless.

      At the same time that I’m thinking all I discussed above, there is also a part of me that thinks if there did have to be a baby born somewhere that had special needs, there are far worse people for it to be born to than Zazzy and I. With my background as a teacher and her background as a nurse, I think we would be better prepared to accept and care for and love that child than others. Maybe this is being a bit presumptuous, a lot arrogant, or hyper-rational to balance the aforementioned complete lack of rationality, but when I step back, I’m fairly confident that we could get it done. I also know I’ve got you as an ace up my sleeve, whether you are ready to accept that or not :-D.

      My heart thinks of Langston Hughes’ “Dream Deferred”. My head thinks like a clinician.

      What I should probably just do is that remind myself that, like so many times before, Zazzy and I will find a way…

  6. Clinicians can offer important advice on all the various testing options available for pregnant women and their families. But it’s important to note that more recent, advanced prenatal testing can offer non-invasive methods for identifying trisomies, which are extra copies of chromosomes, that are associated with Down syndrome and other conditions. Thanks for discussion on this topic. — Ariosa Diagnostics

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