Friday, June 15, 2012
The importance of a life
Today I had the interesting experience of going into an imaging clinic to get a sonogram to check on our baby. I'm 10 weeks, 2 days, and I'd been having cramping for 3 days, some slight spotting, and a decrease in my pregnancy sickness. We wanted to see if the baby was OK and just to find out what all these symptoms mean. Our midwife is a little over an hour's drive from our house, and she doesn't have the equipment for sonograms anyway, so her office helped us find somewhere local where we could get it done. Once we arrived, we went in the room with the technician. The monitor was faced away from me, where I could not see what was happening. My husband and children were behind the technician, so they were able to see, but didn't know what they were looking at anyway! She said she would not be able to tell us anything until she talked to our doctor (midwife, she meant). She let us hear the sounds of blood flow to my ovaries, but never turned on the sound for the baby's heartbeat, nor talked about the baby at all. She left the room. A few moments later She returned and confirmed that the radiologist would not need any further pictures and I could get dressed and go back to the lobby. No visit with the radiologist. No news. Just sitting in the lobby. Eventually she came back and told us she left a message with the midwife and was waiting for the return call. She said we could leave if we wanted to (like we are going to drive 30 minutes to our home without someone telling us if our baby has a heartbeat!) My husband asked if the radiologist could at least tell us what is going on, and she said she would check. The midwife called (unbeknownst to me at the time), and the receptionist called my name. I asked if my husband should come, and she said, "No, just you." She handed me the phone which was right there by her desk, a seat in front of it, and two boxes of tissue, so, apparently, this was a common place to receive "news". It was my midwife. She said she'd never had a radiologist want her to give out the news. "They couldn't find a heartbeat. Your baby has died". Even though I was "prepared" to possibly receive this news, I really wasn't. I immediately wept, so much that it was a while before I could catch my breath enough to even give a reply. I then realized why the tissues were there. She said some more sweet words about God having a purpose for this baby and that the baby has fulfilled his or her purpose, about how she loved me, and to take time to grieve. After I hung up the phone, the lady at the front desk said, " You are finished here." I was so far from being able to compose myself to leave, and couldn't even catch a breath to tell her to call my husband over here. Now I had to walk directly into a lobby full of strangers, to see my husband, who doesn't even know. Another 5 or 10 minutes and the ability to see my husband would have given me some time to stop crying long enough to get to the car, but here I was alone. The lady at the front desk couldn't take it any more, I guess, and came over and gave me a hug. I had to finally walk to the lobby, my husband saw me and immediately knew the problem and we headed to the car. After getting home (a trip I hardly remember), I texted my midwife: how big was the baby? will I get a printout of the sonogram? What else do you know? The whole experience left me dumbfounded. Couldn't they have just left us in the private room? Couldn't the radiologist come talk to us? Didn't they know I'd want my husband there beside me? Couldn't they see I would need a moment, that I might respond the way I did over the news of my baby's death? Didn't they think I might want to see my baby on the screen, alive or not, and take home a picture to remember his or her precious, short, life? How would they like to walk, sobbing, into a roomful of strangers, to report the death of their child to their husband? It all seemed so cold, intentional or not. So, what makes a life important? For a baby, does it mean they have to make it past a certain age of gestation, or to be the first or second child (not the fifth)? What about the mother, what makes her life important? I didn't expect anyone there to grieve my baby, but shouldn't they expect me to grieve mine? I walked out of that place very grateful for my midwife, who has always treated our family with love and compassion, recognizing our babies, however short their lives, as gifts of our God. How you view a life is important. It isn't a blob of tissue - it is a baby, whose soul is back in the arms of our Heavenly Father, and whose body we will soon have to say goodbye to. We are never guaranteed a certain number of days at any point in our lives. I thank God for the 10 weeks I've had with this baby, for the joy that he or she brought, for the chance to be a mother, again. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, blessed be His name.