The Story of My Super Boy
Recently, I shared the story of my first pregnancy on FB- a story of how 20 weeks along, we discovered that the baby had a fatal birth defect caused by the egg being fertilized by 2 sperm. It was a faulty egg that didn’t respond properly at the exact right moment, shutting the other balloon-shaped competitors out. I remember how, 20 weeks pregnant and already using a hairband to close the top of my jeans, I lay there watching the ultrasound tech take the fetal measurements and talk through them, without indicating that anything was wrong- but I KNEW something was wrong. Even having never seen an ultrasound of a baby before, I could see and feel that the proportions weren’t right. It was a visceral sense and it was exactly right. The baby’s heart was beating, it was moving and flexing its limbs, and would likely grow in utero all the way to birth. But I knew- there was something horribly, irretrievably wrong. If I let the pregnancy progress, this baby would continue to grow and then, the baby would die- because an egg fertilized by two sperm doesn’t produce a viable person, it creates something close- but this is not a game where close counts. And although I told myself I wouldn’t, after the doctor told us the news, I had one more question- “What would the baby have been?”
“A boy,” she answered.
I have often imagined what things would have been like if we lived in a parallel universe where this genetic quirk didn’t mean malformation and death but instead would have meant that my baby would be an X-men like super hero. Who would my boy have been? Obviously, amazing. Two hearts and an extra lobe in your brain would certainly mean the courage of a lion, the strength of ten men, and a mind that could easily bend both natural laws and wills to its desire. My boy would also have been impish and accustomed to playing pranks- using his speed and intelligence to tease his baby sisters, and the dog, and entertain the neighbors, as any seven year old would. He’d have unruly red hair, fair almost translucent skin that made one think of dolphins or fairies, and muscles that rippled incongruously along his young body. He’d be, by turns, brilliant and mature or childlike and vulnerable. He’d have his dad’s noble expression and kindness and a laugh that came straight from his mom. It’s clear he would have been a great gift to the world, a joyful and heroic person- and maybe it’s just that our world, the “real” world wasn’t ready for him.
When I allow myself to, I miss this boy- but I also remember that he is a creature of my imagination and thus, lives there happily, with me. It’s not the life I might have wished for him, but he has, in a way, made me the person I am- mother, partner, friend, a woman familiar with the keenest of heartaches. I am a person seasoned by loss, but not defeated by it; a person who has drawn comfort from others in times of sadness and can pay that comfort forward. I am a person who has looked at something “deformed” and been transported by love for it. I have confronted difficult decisions and made the one that was right; even if by many measures, it was the harder one. My heart has not been turned to stone but rather, flowered because of the love it was bathed in when in times of crises. I am so fortunate to have been through these experiences and to be the person I am today. Thank you, sweet super boy.