Chapter Nineteen

Married Life

Bubba and Angie were married by his father and in their family church. The service was simple but beautiful. Angie found a used wedding dress that looked glamorous on her. When she walked down the aisle toward Bubba, he couldn’t take his eyes off her.  She was so beautiful. Her long blonde hair was flowing and shining. As she walked toward Bubba, all she could think about was how happy she was that she found Bubba. She loved him so. Bubba looked at her as they stood before his father and just said a prayer of thanksgiving for bringing Angie into his life.

After the ceremony, the couple went back to Angie’s house. There was no time nor money for a honeymoon. Both were just grateful to have each other.

Life was wonderful for the newly married couple. For the first time, Bubba experienced a reprieve from his past. He was so happy having Angie as his wife. The thought of becoming a father was overwhelming to him. He dreamt about what he would do with this son or daughter of his. Times were good for both Angie and Bubba. Then the good times started to change.

As the months passed, it was evident to all that Angie was pregnant. She was so happy that she didn’t even have morning sickness with her pregnancy.

I could have five children if all my pregnancies were like this one, Angie thought.

Angie’s pregnancy progressed normally until the sixth month. She had a doctor’s appointment to have an ultrasound done and to be checked out by the doctor. It was at this appointment that the doctor saw something on the ultrasound that looked “suspicious”.

“What the heck does “suspicious” mean?” questioned Bubba. Neither Bubba nor Angie ever experienced having a child. This term was unfamiliar to them. They asked the doctors to be more specific and help them to understand what was happening.

“Let’s get some more tests done and then we’ll be able to tell you more,” the doctors replied.

Bubba was scared. He tried not to show it and he knew he had to stay strong for Angie.

“Honey, everything is going to be alright,” he told her.

The last ultrasound revealed that the baby she was carrying was a boy.

“Oh my God, Bubba, we’re having a boy.”

“I can’t wait, Angie.  Just the thought of spending time with our son raising him and teaching him about life is exciting.”

All the excitement came to a halt when the doctors used the unfamiliar word “suspicious”.

She knew something was wrong with her baby boy. “Oh my God, what did I do wrong” she would say to herself. “Why is this happening to my baby?”

Bubba and Angie sat in the Consultation Room barely speaking to one another.  The tension was so great that neither could say a word. They heard a noise outside the room and froze.  They didn’t want to know what was wrong. This was their baby.

The doctors came back in to meet with Bubba and Angie.

They were so scared. They didn’t want to hear what the doctors had to say. They just wanted their son to be normal.

Three doctors entered the Consultation Room. You could tell by the look on their faces that something wasn’t right.

“We’ve looked at the test results. It appears the fetus you are carrying has a genetic defect. It’s called spina bifida. It means the spine has not developed fully and the fetus is exposed to infection. We can attempt to correct it after you deliver the fetus, but it’s not always successful. It is our opinion and recommendation that you have an abortion.”

“Abortion – kill our baby? Is that what you want us to do?” Angie couldn’t move. She didn’t believe in abortion anyway and now the doctors are suggesting she abort her son.

“How can I do that?” she screamed. He’s moving and kicking. I can’t kill him.”

Bubba sat there stoic. “Why are you suggesting this?”

The doctor preceded to tell Bubba, “Spina Bifida is a very serious genetic defect. It causes severe disabilities due to nerve damage. He will probably be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life or use crutches to move about. This is a tremendous burden on the family, but many spina bifida babies live a long and prosperous life.”

When the fetus develops spina bifida, the development of the neural tube and the spinal column goes wrong, and it doesn’t fully close.  The operation done on the newborn baby will fix the defect, but the doctors will not be able to repair any existing nerve damage. Other bone issues may develop. Other surgical procedures may be required later in life to correct scoliosis or dislocated joints.

“Is there a treatment for this disease,”  Bubba asked.

“If you insist on continuing the pregnancy, we suggest surgery immediately after delivery.”

Angie was in tears. She couldn’t understand why this was happening to her and her precious baby.

“I need to go home and talk about this with my wife, doc,” replied Bubba.

“I understand. We’ll await your decision.”

Bubba and Angie drove home in silence. Finally, Angie broke the silence.

“What are we going to do, Bubba? I’m so scared.”

We need to think this through and do what’s best for all of us including our baby.”

When they arrived home, there was total silence.

“Bubba, we have to talk. Can we talk about how I feel?”

Bubba was in another world.  His thoughts were not of his unborn son or wife, but of Vietnam.

“What do you want me to do Angie?” he asked. “I can’t fix our baby and I don’t know if I can live with our baby once he is born.  Just think of the burden we will have the rest of our lives. Is it fair to him? To you? To me?”

Angie couldn’t believe the words that just came out of Bubba’s mouth.

“I am not going to have an abortion and that’s my final word.”

There was a wall of silence between Angie and Bubba. Neither wanted to discuss the situation. All they wanted was it to go away. Angie thought about her baby boy and what it would be like to hold him.

Bubba thought about the burden this baby would put on his family. The medical expense was one big consideration but, the biggest was raising a handicapped child. The doctors explained that his child would probably be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Bubba couldn’t stand the thought of taking care of a disabled child for the rest of his life.

The two operated as though they were separate and didn’t exchange words. They each had taken their stand and now it was a battle as to who would win. The tension frightened Angie.  All she wanted was for Bubba to take her in his arms and cuddle her letting her know everything would be fine.  He didn’t.

He reverted to the old days and got lost in his alcoholism. He just couldn’t face what was happening to him. He couldn’t because he was so ravished with the thought that his only son would be handicapped. This thought was so disparaging to him that all he wanted to do was drown his sorrows by drinking. It took him out of his reality and into a world where he didn’t have to worry about anything – not Angie; not the baby.

Angie was shocked that Bubba was dealing with their problem by drinking and removing himself from their lives. She wondered if he would recover in time for their baby to be born.

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