When I found out I was pregnant with a child that had a deformity my world came to a screeching halt. I heard the ultrasound Dr say the baby would be “clubfoot” and my body went numb. His voice sounded like far off mumbles. I didn’t come to until he asked if I wanted to terminate the pregnancy. I quickly said “NO!” -feeling angry that he would even ask that. I was so confused. Honestly, I didn’t know one thing about clubfoot, in fact I never even heard of it! My heart felt broken, all I could think of was, “What did I do wrong? How did I let this happen? What could I have done to prevent it?!” I even thought, “How am I going to be able to handle this?” I look back now and even though these are all normal questions, they are also very selfish questions.
After leaving the ultrasound office my husband asked if I was okay. I remember nodding my head, but thinking “What was okay? How am I supposed to be okay when my baby isn’t okay?” The ride home and the rest of the evening was pretty silent, but after putting my 2 boys to bed I laid on the couch and burst into tears. I cried and cried for what felt like hours. It was the type of cry where your heart feels broken and your soul is in pain. The type of cry where your stomach is in knots and your throat feels closed. I had never cried like that before, but I remember thinking this is what real pain, a mother’s pain feels like. My husband just held me and cried with me. Being the positive man he always is, he said, “Everything is going to be okay, you’ll see! His legs and feet will be fine!” Unfortunately I did not have an ounce of positivity in my bones at the moment. I knew nothing would be okay. I knew his legs would not be okay. I knew his feet would not be okay. I knew I would not be okay! Millions of thoughts were running through my head. How this was all somehow my fault. How the insurance would probably not cover this sort of thing. How we wouldn’t be able to afford treatment if they didn’t. I thought of how he would look, what his brothers might think, how they would treat him, how he might feel. I thought of what people would think, if kids would not want to play with him and make fun of him. I thought of all these things that could cause him pain and how I had no control over any of them.
The ultrasound Dr had said it could be something that went away by birth and he could, possibly, be just fine. My husband held on to that possibility, I however, did not. I prepared myself for the cruel truth. I did research and research. I needed to find answers to all these questions brewing in my head. What I found was that my husband was right. It would all be okay and none of this was my fault.
Josiah had been in the breech position most of the pregnancy and ” in some cases, club foot is just the result of the position of the baby while developing in the mother’s womb.”– Web MD
However the actual cause of club foot is unknown (idiopathic).-Mayo Clinic
I also learned that “approximately 1 in every 1,000 babies is born with club foot. Males are twice as likely to have the condition as females.”– Medical News Today
These are all things I had no control over. In fact, nobody did. After soaking all this information in, I realized, with the proper treatment Josiah would be just fine. He could be able to walk, run and reach all his milestones at the time he’s supposed to, as long as we treated him immediately after birth. Josiah could have a “normal” childhood after all! In fact he could do sports and it would help him strengthen his legs and feet. Steven Gerrard was a professional soccer player who was born with clubfoot, yet well know as one of the best soccer players ever. Charles Woodson was a professional football player who was born with club foot and won the Heisman Trophy! Kristi Yamaguchi was an Olympic figure skater who was inducted into the Hall of Fame, also born clubfoot. Why would Josiah or any club foot baby be the exception?
The way Josiah would views his deformity was up to me. The way Josiah handles what people think of him was also up to me. You see it is my job as his mother to build his self confidence and strengthen his character. Besides, these days being different is the new normal. I will instill in Josiah that he is important, that his life has meaning and that his life could possibly inspire or motivate others. God gives the hardest battles to his strongest soldiers, and Josiah is in fact the strongest baby I have ever met. In his three and a half months he has endured 2 colds, pneumonia, thrush, 9 sets of casts and a tenotomy surgery. Oh and 2 big brothers! I am so incredibly proud to be this little guy’s mother. He inspires me daily. I love him so much! This whole experience has been so humbling for me.
My advice to all parents whose child has clubfoot or other deformity, is to go ahead and cry. Feel bad for yourself, throw yourself a pity party! But when you are done get up a stronger more motivated parent. Try to remember things could always be much worse, but this is curable. Your child needs you, to get through all these changes. Whatever the deformity may be, research it, become aware of what’s coming. That way when your child is going through it you know what to expect.
Don’t be ashamed of your child, don’t be embarrassed. Don’t hide from the world because you’re afraid of what people might think. Your child needs you to be proud of them, to believe in them, to be their voice and advocate, their backbone. These changes and the way they are handled will build your child’s character and self worth. Tell them how special they are, show them you love them unconditionally. Encourage their dreams. Most of all never allow them to feel defeated.
I believe in Josiah and I know God has a plan for his life and I am so excited to watch him grow. I will be there every step of the way to lift him up if he feels down and to celebrate his victories.
Deformities are definitely not disillusions, your hopes and dreams for your child are definitely not lost. Keep your faith in God and if you don’t believe in God, then believe in your child. Their future will be bright, because they have you to encourage them.