Last night, I came into the bedroom to find Kirk watching Discovery Health. This is one of the channels I banned while I was pregnant, and the show he was watching is a good example of why:
"Born with Two Heads - Sunday, Sept. 11, 9-10pm e/p Egyptian baby Manar was born with one of the most rare the birth defects called Craniopagus Parasiticus Ė a defect that has been reported only ten times throughout medical history. This condition occurs when an embryo begins to split but fails to complete the process, leaving one of the conjoined twins undeveloped in the womb. In Manarís case, she was born with a second parasitic head thatís able to smile and blink but has no chance of survival on its own. Discovery Health Channel documents Manarís story, showing how the second head affects her frame and prevents her from development. Then, follow Manar as she takes the journey of her life to a local childrenís hospital where doctors prepare to surgically remove the second head. Itís a bittersweet story showing Manarís emotional and physical fight to recover from her grueling surgery."
It was just the kind of thing that would have kept me awake at night while Will was still in utero. This poor baby was born with quite literally a second head growing off the back of her actual head. The extaordinarily stunted twin had a fully developed, active brain, but no heart, lungs, stomach, or other organs. She was just a head and neck, but she could open her eyes and react to things--smile, cry, suckle. She was fed completely by the first baby
s blood supply. Eventually, they did surgery to remove the twin and try to give the baby a fighting chance at life, which, of course, killed the twin.
It was horrifying to watch. Never, not in my wildest dreams, not in my most irrational pregnant moments, did I ever once think, "Ohmigod--what if Will is born with two heads?!" It would just never have occurred to me. And yet--there it is. A real, honest-to-goodness medical possibility. As was the child with the face eating tumor featured on the program that followed Born With Two Heads and the baby who suffered a DNA split, was born with two sets of genitalia, and is its own twin, whose story will be shown tonight.
Sometimes there really is such a thing as too much information.
After the show ended (because of COURSE I had to know if she survived the surgery and if the operation resulted in brain damage, poor child), I told Kirk I was going in to check on our decidedly one-headed baby. He said, "You aren't going to hug him, are you?" I laughed and said no.
He was sleeping sideways in his crib, half on his Trucks book, his head half-buried under Doggy, his foot peeking out from between the bars of his crib. I gently removed the book, repositioned Doggy, guided his foot back into the crib, and covered him with his Nana Blanky. He sighed in his sleep--a deeply happy and satisfied sound.
Life is good.