Heartbroken in Houston

Dear Jim,

I’ve read your column for years and I’m hoping that now, after reading the advice you’ve given to other people in need, you’ll be able to help me. When I found out I was pregnant almost one year ago, it was as if all my dreams had come true. I had always wanted to be a mother and after struggling for years with infertility, I felt as if my prayers had finally been answered. 

It was an uncomplicated, “normal” pregnancy, not that I had any idea what constituted a normal pregnancy. The trouble came during my labor and delivery. What should have been a wonderful, glorious day where I met my precious baby girl, was anything but that. It was certainly life-changing, and my labor had been going relatively smoothly when  my daughter’s heart rate suddenly dropped and I was rushed in to have an emergency Cesarean section. 

Before I could be rushed in, however, my daughter decided she had to make her entrance. During her delivery, she got stuck coming out, something called shoulder dystocia. The obstetrician delivering her was able to get her out, but not without injury. 

In addition to her collar bone being broken, we have since discovered that the nerves in her left shoulder were severed, causing her to have a condition called Erb’s palsy. The weakness in her little 8-week old arm is so severe, that at times it looks as though her arm is paralyzed. We’ve had to put her in to occupational therapy, and are even considering surgical intervention at this point.

Jim, I want to know how to cope. I should be spending my time cuddling the daughter I have longed for for years, but instead I find myself constantly worrying about what’s going to happen next, and whether this injury is going to be permanent. I’m just not sure what to do. 


Please help.

Heartbroken in Houston


Dear Heartbroken,

First of all, I want to start off by offering my sincere thoughts and prayers as you go through this difficult time in your life, and congratulations on the birth of your little girl. I wish I could offer you more than just a little advice, and tell you that worrying about what’s to come will never go away. 

Unfortunately, once you become a parent, the worrying never really goes away. However, there is something to be done about the birth injury your daughter has suffered. Many people find that taking action in these situations can make them feel empowered instead of helpless. 

I encourage you to do the same in this situation. It may be worth your while to look into what caused the injury. Was it the shoulder dystocia itself that caused the injury? Did the obstetrician delivering her do so the wrong way? If you have a medical malpractice lawsuit on your hands, you could be entitled to compensation for a birth injury

With that being said, try to remember that while this situation is not ideal, you have taken the steps needed to help your daughter heal, and that’s all any parent can do for their child. 

All the best to you and your daughter,