Wednesday, November 17, 2010

tiny feet

When I had the 20 week ultrasound with my daughter I was only excited to see the little being I had been feeling for weeks. In the waiting room I joked that she thought my full bladder made a great trampoline. It never once occurred to me that something could be wrong. The worst I was thinking was that she would be stubborn and we wouldn't see the sex. The most magical part of the ultrasound, and the best picture, was when she pressed both tiny feet against my stomach, as if she wanted to show me how perfect and tiny and cute they were. I literally gasped in wonder and cried. I still have that picture and treasure it.

This experience made it especially painful when my second 20 week ultrasound was so drastically and tragically different. By the time I had my follow up scan just prior to the amnio, the baby was partially paralyzed. I remember laughing at the ultrasound tech trying to get a view of his feet. They were not easy to see and he couldn't move them so the tech pushed in with the device and jiggled my stomach hard, trying to knock them into another position. My whole stomach jiggled in a really unattractive way, and even in the midst of the worst thing to ever happen to me, I laughed. I don't know why they needed to see his feet when there was so much else wrong with him. They said they thought he had rocker-bottom feet, which can be another indication of chromosomal damage. It hardly mattered with all his other problems, but I was very disappointed that I couldn't see his feet. I think I was more upset because I was thinking they were deformed and I couldn't have even that little piece of wonder in all the horribleness.

*** Warning - really graphic description of a dead baby - skip this paragraph if you need to ****

When Aiden was born I wanted badly to hold him, but at the same time I was very afraid to see him. I will be forever grateful to the nurse who helped deliver him. As soon as the doctor removed the placenta the nurse told me that I had a beautiful baby. I knew it wasn't true, not in the traditional sense, but it helped that she didn't think he was a monster. When they finally brought him to me I did the same thing I did with my daughter - I immediately undressed him. I couldn't take off his hat because his head was mostly fluid and I was afraid it would just come apart. I remember in my nightmares the way his overly large head flopped on his tiny little neck. For one horrified minute I thought I was going to break his neck. I tried to uncurl his poor little fingers but I couldn't. They were clenched tight to his palms, but they weren't grown into the skin like I had imagined. He had an adorable little pot belly, which I couldn't figure out, because they said he had no stomach. When I made my way down to his feet I just stopped breathing.

There in my palm, like a gift from a God I don't believe in, were two tiny, beautiful, perfectly formed feet. I felt guilty that this made me so happy. Would I have still loved him if he had deformed feet? Silly question, but I still felt like being happy about that made the rest of his body, in it's pitiful brokenness, somehow less. But I've held on to that image of those perfect feet. It's what I see when I think of my son and the only picture I can look at.

All of this was brought back tonight by my stupid idea to read "My sister's keeper" If I had known what a horrible ending that book had, I never would have read it. But the end got me thinking about my Aiden, and how long it's been since I looked at his pictures. I wondered if I could still remember what he looked like. I can, mostly. But still all I really see are his perfect feet.

The thing I can't remember, the thing that hurts right now, is how small those feet were in my hand. I wish I had gotten a picture of his feet resting in my palm. I have prints, but somehow it just isn't the same. Maybe one day I will try to make a cast from the prints I have.


  1. Oh my. Your beautiful little boy with his perfect feet. I'm so glad you saw them and I don't think you need to feel guilty. x

  2. thinking of you and Aiden....

  3. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story about Aiden with us. *hugs*

  4. Oh, the feet. Thank you for this. So glad you were able to cradle him, and them.

    Much love.

    PS--eff that book. What the hell was that ending anyway? Grr.

  5. lovely. i'm glad he had perfect feet.

    yeah, that book pissed me off too.

  6. This is a beautiful memory, thanks so much for sharing it! What is it about baby feet that make them so dear? My son's feet were starting to grow deformed and I still just loved all of those tiny, tiny toes.

    Making a cast of Aiden's feet so that you can hold them is a very good idea.

  7. Hey Jen, my name is Keely. I have never read your blog before but I just wanted to let you know that this post made me cry (in a good way) like nothing else has in a while. I also delivered my son early due to poor prenatal diagnosis, and was scared to see him. We ended up opting not to see him, but my doctors told me that he was beautiful, and I felt the same as you, thankful that they didn't think he was a monster. The ultrasound picture that I treasure most of his is one of his tiny little feet, so sweet and perfect. He was having a hard time moving his legs by our 20-week ultrasound, so it was a tough picture to get, but they did and I am forever thankful. Thanks for posting this, and I wish you nothing but good things in the future. xoxo