Charlene text Charlene Guenette On mother-daughter love, Thalidomide, rejection and realizing she was "different" Toronto, July 2013 I've always been told that I am a Thalidomide baby, because of a prescription that my mother took. But I’ve always considered myself first and foremost a Treacher Collins Syndrome baby. * * * I was born on September 11th, 1962 in Sudbury, Ontario. My mum says when my head came out, all she remembers is the doctor said, “turn off the light, sedate the patient.” She did not see me for three days; they sedated her for three days. I’m just assuming that they tried to figure to how they’re going to tell my mother that she has a girl born with a facial difference. And what she was not aware of during the time, but after the fact, (was that) they put me in another room, totally isolated, to make sure that nobody was looking at me, nobody was suspicious of me and so forth At that time we had this big epidemic around the world, especially around the United States and Canada, of babies affected by Thalidomide, and my mother did in fact take the prescription Thalidomide, which was to help ease the morning sickness and help to calm the nervousness throughout her pregnancy with me. She was prescribed for one month’s supplement on the second month (of her) pregnancy, and she felt so great that on the third month she went back to see her doctor and asked can he prescribe again and that’s when he had the obligation by law not to give out any more Thalidomide, because they found out what this Thalidomide medication has done to the fetus, which was babies were affected to be born without arms and legs. And in my case, it has been affected on my face. After I was born, my mother was in a room with another patient and she heard the conversation between the doctor who assisted this patient deliver her child, who was also affected by Thalidomide. My mother heard the doctor say to the mother, “your son is okay, and he was born only with a torso and a head. He had absolutely no arms and no legs.” My mother has never forgotten the mother’s reaction, and that’s what inspired her wanting to keep me. She heard the other mother say to the doctor, “get rid of it.” She’d never seen her son. When (my mother) saw me, she was adamant to keep me, regardless, because she said to me, she said, “one of my wishes in my young adult life is if I was ever going to have a little girl, I’d like to have a little girl with lots of black hair,” and I was born a girl with lots of black hair, so that’s what she wanted, and she kept me.