My son, Cameron, was born Sept 24, 2012 with parts of his fingers and toes missing (amputated in utero), some fused (stuck together) and some deformed (twisted/banded/smaller or larger). It affected the digits (fingers and toes) from all four limbs.
After many losses, a lot of help from doctors and meds to help maintain my pregnancy and an extremely rough several months, my doctor scheduled an induction for me to be started on Oct 1st (one week prior to my due date) but our little man had other plans. By 6am on the 24th of September I was in labor with contractions every 1.5-2 mins and a 45 min+ drive to the hospital awaiting us! We packed up our other two boys, all the bags and got on the road.
A little before 8am I was taken back to triage and was checked for dilation…I was between 6-7 centimeters!! They started my IV, had us sign paperwork and hurried me back to a room. Once I got all hooked up to the monitors my contractions were coming so fast and so strong they opted not to give me anything to speed things up…I was doing it well on my own:) My epidural was put in place and slowed the contractions some but still no drugs to push things along. I was exhausted from being up all night. I figured after they checked me, and I was at an “8”, it was time to lay back and take a nap before it was too late. The nurse told me they would be back in about a hour to re-check me but to call if I felt any pressure or the urge to push. I sent a text out to my family (who live 1200 miles away) to update them, rearranged my pillows to get more comfortable and closed my eyes.
For 10 mins I tried to go to sleep but all I could think about was my sweet baby boy who I had fought so hard for. I was about to meet him. He would be perfect. (One of the positive things about having high risk pregnancies is the numerous ultrasounds you are given to check baby each visit) I had seen my perfect little man on that screen so many times. And now, in just a few hours, I would meet him face to face! My mind raced as I wondered would he be able to breath on his own? Would he need to go to the NICU since he was coming two weeks early? As these things crossed my mind I started to notice how uncomfortable I was feeling. Lots of pressure. I tried to push that feeling aside since it hadn’t been even 15 mins since the nurse left my room, but my friends and husband must have seen it on my face. I shook my head yes and my husband called the nurse before I could tell him there was no way I was ready. Too late…the nurses came in and I was at 10! He was ready to meet us too!
I pushed only 3 times and out he came! He cried and my heart melted. They handed him to me still covered in fluids. Put him right on my chest. His lips, hair, perfect little nose….then I noticed two fingers on his left hand were so much shorter and fused together, his right hand had only a pinky finger sticking out and the rest were all tangled and fuse into one big cluster. I started to tear up inside. I immediately thought to look at his feet. Hiis little toes were all fused together and/or missing as well. My heart broke. Why was I not told about this?! So many ultrasounds and never a mention of any of this! The doctors and nurses started to whisper. I was scared. In shock. Angry at myself, the doctors, God…everyone. Why my child? I did everything right…no drinking, no smoking, walked some each week until I was told to stop, went to all my appts plus a few extra…why us? why him? I overheard the nurse asking was this genetic? (Because this was a teaching hospital there were several extra people in the room and then several more were called in as well to check him over) And then it hit me that this could be our fault. My fault. I held him and cried.
They sent people from genetics, another doctor who had seen something like this before, pediatrics and a plastic surgeon. All concluded from the constriction band around his finger, the way the digits were twisted and everything else that this was not anything that anyone could have done different to prevent it and it was not genetic. They told us about Amniotic Band Syndrome (ABS) and said our son had suffered from this…this is what made our perfect son “different” from all of us.
I spent the next few hours, days (weeks even) crying. My eyes were swollen and bloodshot. My son was going to be picked on, starred at and teased his whole life because of some freak incident and there was nothing I could do for him. There is no worse feeling in the world than feeling helpless to your childs needs. Then I had a few good friends, family and doctors tell me something I really didn’t want to hear but needed to hear…they told me he would only grow up to be what we showed him he COULD be. So, I thought about that for a few days and started researching ABS. I found this website. After seeing all the pictures and reading all the stories I felt a little better knowing I wasn’t alone and that it wasn’t any worse than what it was. And then, for the first time since he was born, I felt blessed. I thanked God.
Honestly, I never would have known about ABS if my son had not been born with it. I feel God gave us this special little boy because he knew we would love him unconditionally and stand up for him no matter what. And he was right. Cameron taught me so much just in his first few weeks of life…I can only imagine what he has in store for our family and everyone who meets him in the future:) I have created a facebook page for Cameron to help spread awareness about ABS (Our Special Blessing-Little Cam’s Story) Hopefully one day this syndrome will be a problem of the past but until then all we can do is spread the word!