A fellow mother who carried to term despite a fatal diagnosis passed this blog address to me. I am engrossed. The blogger is an American OB/GYN practicing in Uganda. I am so grateful for her perspective as I walk through a high-risk pregnancy with our little one, and as I continue to process my pregnancy with Sam. Before this, I felt grateful that the placental abruption I had with Sam did not end my life. An ambulance came in record time. Medical staff monitored me constantly. I felt grateful before. I don’t know how to describe my gratitude having read the perspective of this doctor. I could have been neglected until it was too late. I could have lost Sam even earlier than I did–those last few days with him are so precious to me. My husband might have had to grieve the loss of both a wife and a son.
One entry was particularly poignant for me, which told about the saying used after giving birth, “Luwo neko.” You have survived the battle between life and death.
There is a currently popular belief that pregnancy and birth have been tainted by the modern medicine. I am not sure if this is a popular phase limited to my generation, if maybe it’s a pendulum swing from over-dependence on medicine. Steven and I took the first few Bradley classes (yes. we’re Bradley class drop-outs), and I thought it was funny how pervasive the thought was that, “Birth is natural. If doctors would leave well enough alone, birth would be much safer.” This was the theme behind the movie, The Business of Being Born, as well. I just don’t think that the medical community could be single-handedly responsible for the fact that childbirth is not perfect.
They’re right on one point. Pregnancy and birth are tainted. There’s this innate sense from the moment we get a positive pregnancy test through the pain that is birth that things are not quite what they should be. Sometimes it starts even before the positive pregnancy test, with the grief that comes with infertility. We are broken beings giving birth to broken beings, deeply affected by the Curse. It’s a miracle anything goes right. It’s a miracle when fingers separate in the womb, when organs actually develop inside the chest cavity, when feet turn out the right way, when hearts have the right number of chambers, when umbilical cords have the right number of vessels, when limbs grow to the right length, when brains develop in way that keeps little hearts beating, when umbilical cords don’t get wrapped around necks or prolapsed or clotted. It’s a miracle every single time mother and baby survive. Can you believe how many miracles the world witnesses every day? The fact that pregnancy and birth ever happen beautifully is not thanks to the hands-on or hands-off approach of the medical community. It’s grace entirely.
Steven and I are anticipating the anatomy scan, which is the scan that revealed Sam’s condition, at the end of January. I have mulled over how to ask for prayer over this. Should I ask that the baby be healthy? That would be a good prayer, though I believe God has already numbered sweet Junebug’s days, just as he numbered Sam’s and mine and Steven’s… Should I ask that my nerves be calmed? Maybe. I am pretty nervous. I think the best prayer for us would be that God would prepare us to receive the blessing He has for us. If that blessing is a healthy baby, a baby with special needs, a baby like Sam who will live a short life, may He prepare our hearts. I am longing for the miracle that is a happy pregnancy and birth, but I need the soil of my heart to be fortified to receive and flourish with whatever gain or loss comes my way.
I want to confess that it is taking a great deal of courage to type out that prayer request. I have a difficult time trusting God with this pregnancy and with my heart. To ask that He prepare my heart for however this pregnancy will turn out is a big step for me. I have to believe that the God who oversaw the miracle that was Sam, and who oversaw every healthy pregnancy I have ever known about, will show the same concern for this little one. And for me. I have a great deal of anger and hurt, as that is a pretty normal part of grief, but I also know that there is something freeing for me as a creature, coming near to her Creator. So I would appreciate your prayers.