Was it the Mountain Dew I drank in the first trimester? Spot has the Other “D” Syndrome

Dick is ready (oh, is he ready) to have another kid. Last week he said for the first time that we need to have another try at making a boy. This is almost a relief to me, because before when he always said the right things about how happy he is that we have three girls, I never quite believed him.

I’m not ready for another kid, and so I talked it over with my good friend Tara, because open communication is important in any marriage. One reason I’m reluctant is that I feel extremely lucky to have three perfectly healthy kids. Why push it? Do you know how many things can go wrong? The odds on having four normal kids seem almost astronomical.

Here’s my baby, Spot. Not such a baby anymore. We first noticed something ‘off’ with her eyes at six months. She’d outgrown the usual newborn cross-eyedness, but her right eye was often not tracking with the left. We hoped she’d outgrow that, along with those strange grunting noises and the diaper-wetting.

At nine months I took her to a pediatric ophthalmologist who couldn’t get her to do her eye trick. Like a recalcitrant car that insists on running smoothly the second you take it into the shop. The cross-eye doctor said her eye muscles were all equally developed and that it was probably just a baby thing that would resolve itself. Don’t you love doctor-speak?

Dick thought we should get her a patch, but I couldn’t imagine her keeping it on. Plus, the doctor hadn’t actually recommended the pirate look.

So now she’s 21 months old, and the mysterious eye thing is not resolved. It comes and goes and I call her cross-eyed baby sometimes. Today we saw a different pediatric ophthalmologist. It took his assistant approximately 46 seconds to diagnose Duane Syndrome. Okay. Can we not call things “syndromes” unless they’re seriously life-changing/threatening/coma-inducing? Also, could we not name syndromes after your beer-drinking uncle who likes to watch NASCAR?

Avoidance? Huh? Anyway, Duane Syndrome means that in the 6th week of pregnancy, her 6th cranial nerve didn’t hook up with the 6th eye muscle that it’s supposed to control. Her left eye cannot turn out past the midline. It’s completely untreatable and means (to Dick) that she will never be great at basketball and (to me) that she will never be a fighter pilot.

To Tara, it’s a good reason to have a fourth kid because, as she pointed out, we no longer have three perfectly normal children anyway.

On the one hand (more like ninety-nine out of a hundred hands), I’m grateful beyond expressing that it’s not something worse. Spot has the most common, least complicated type (I) of Duane Syndrome, and she seems to be compensating well for it. DS is more common in girls than boys (3:2) and not hereditary and usually doesn’t affect quality of life.

Unless you wanted to be a fighter pilot.

When do you tell your kids that they can’t become something when they grow up? Do you ever tell them? Do you take your son aside and tell him he’s tone deaf before he tries out for American Idol? Do you tell your daughter that the tallest ballerinas are only 5’7″ and that since she’ll most likely grow to 5’10”, she might want to pick a different dream?

When do I tell Spot she can’t be a fighter pilot?