My ultrasound technician is really talented at what she does. She works in a facility where they only do ultrasounds and specialize in genetic tests. She spent lots of time checking out every little part of my baby. I was really enjoying watching her work, seeing all the organs and my baby’s limbs measuring perfectly, functioning perfectly.
She was having trouble, at first, getting a good shot of his hands because he kept sucking on them during the ultrasound. Or he’d have them nestled up under his chin or holding his head. But the glimpses we were seeing revealed what looked like webbed fingers.
The more time she spent, the additional angles, all pointed to something called syndactyly type III. That’s the “fancy” medical term for what is essentially webbed fingers. My boy’s pinky and ring fingers seem to be fused together on both hands.
This information settled in my mind in a few different ways. At the very beginning it made no difference to me and really didn’t cause me much worry. I know someone whose son had syndactyly type 1 and he had surgery when he was around 18 months old and everything went perfectly fine.
The doctor came in to discuss everything and tell me that they had no reason to believe that my son had any other chromosome issues and it was likely an isolated “problem” that was a relatively easy fix after he was born. He suggested another ultrasound in 4 weeks to check up on the baby’s hands and see if they can get even better views. And then at that point I should get in touch with a pediatric surgeon. He went on giving me good information and talking about all the things that will come in the future.
The only part that wasn’t ideal was when he referred to my baby as having a birth defect.
Of course his hands do have birth defects but, without having even seen my son or his hands- I’m attached to him and everything about him is perfection to me. To hear the words birth defects hit it home that something about my son is considered “wrong” by others.
It started to hurt to think of all the sure-to-come appointments and questions and attention surrounding my baby’s hands.
And then as I drove home, despite being told otherwise, I started to wonder if I was to blame for this. Had I done something to cause this?? I thought back to the first two months of my pregnancy when his hands were forming and I’d never eaten healthier in my life. But I had a mysterious illness that caused hives all over my legs back then… could that have been it?! Could it have been because we were using spermicide when he was conceived?!? On and on I considered what grave mistake I must have made to do this to my baby.
And then came the tears. Not that my baby has something “wrong” with his hands, but the idea of surgery on him when he’s so small. He’ll have to go under general anesthesia, he’ll have painful recovery time and he’ll only be 3-6 months old! My poor baby!! I still have sadness that he’ll go through that but there’s nothing I can do but hope for the best and love him in the meantime. And I really love my baby. I feel so much movement these days and every time my heart surges. My perfect son, I really love this little boy.
Being completely ignorant about my son’s hands I, of course, googled when I got home. I also talked to my friend whose son had the same thing. She was a wealth of information 🙂
If you’re curious, here are some easy to read links that explain syndactyly. Or in layman’s terms, webbed fingers. I think they both specifically mention syndactyly type III (the type my baby has) and what it means for the baby.
Washington University Orthopedics
I also have a few pictures of the little kids that I’ll go ahead and throw in here. When I got home from my ultrasound I showed the kids all the pictures and videos of the ultrasound. They were a bundle of excitement thinking and talking about their brother. Ember fully gets that there’s a baby coming now and talks daily about our baby boy. The kids overheard me talking to Allan about the baby’s webbed fingers and the older girls started asking about it. We explained it to them and geez, the sweetness and pure love of kids really is amazing. They saw nothing wrong with the idea of his fingers being fused together and when we explained why we’d have to have them surgically separated they were so sad for him. They’re already protective of their baby brother.