During every pregnancy, parents hope for a healthy baby. New mothers and fathers wait with baited breath to see whether their child has “all his or her fingers and toes.” But for parents who carry genetic conditions, the pregnancy waiting game, and the question of what constitutes a “healthy” child, become far more complicated.
Though she does not have the condition herself, Bonnie J. Rough carries the gene for hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia, or HED, in her genetic code. The condition affects bone structure, hair, sweat glands, and can cause immunodeficiency, leading to a life of discomfort and related illness. Her memoir, Carrier: Untangling the Danger in My DNA, works through the family history, four generations long, of individuals affected by HED. Assuming the voices of her grandfather, Earl, and mother, Paula, as well as writing in her own voice, Rough provides an intimate portrait of a biological legacy.
Excerpt: Bonnie J. Rough reads Carrier‘s prologue, “Letter to an Unborn Son”