The medical conference, an event I’ve been anxious for and dreading at the same time, is finally here. Will we get answers? I suppose there will be answers, but what kind? Definitive ones, vague ones, upsetting ones? Regardless, I guess there will be some kind of closure, but will it sit well? This meeting is set for early evening in some conference room in some medical building. There will be a lot of medical professionals there, those who cared for Trinity and me, before and after her arrival.
Riding up the elevator, I feel nervous relief. I don’t know what I am going to hear, but I am glad that it will be over soon. We join everyone in a small room with a large rectangular table. I wonder how often they have meetings like this one. We sit on one side with all sorts of doctors arrayed around the other three sides. To me, the room feels is a little awkward, slightly heavy, and a little tense. They tell me how good I look. Some didn’t even recognize me. The last time they saw me, I was in the hospital in pretty bad shape. I can’t relate to all those pictures I’ve seen of moms holding their newborns. They are sitting up in the hospital bed looking oh so happy, and maybe a little tired. Jealousy is oh so bitter, and I beg God to take it away every time it strikes. I find real relief simply by admitting these nasty feelings to myself and confiding in God.
As we settle down at the table, there is very little small talk, and the doctors begin their explanation. However, we quickly learn that we are not going to get an actual explanation, only a best guess. Trinity was severely anemic, and the little blood she had was clotting massively. They have no idea why she was so anemic, but she probably had a clotting disorder, and the field of medicine knows very little about clotting disorders at this time. We were told that they may or may not know in another twenty years. They guessed that the unusual clotting was triggered by the cord being around her neck, but did not classify her death as a cord accident because they think that any other baby would have survived. Cords are wrapped around babies’ necks in a large percentage of births, and most of the time the outcome is fine. Had she survived, something else may have triggered it, like a long flight or birth control pills. The likelihood of this happening again with our next baby would be like lightening striking twice. They had tested us for one known clotting problem, but there was no indication of trouble. Statistics no longer comfort me, though. Something not only rare, but unknown happened to us. When people use odds to talk about the negligible chance of something happening to a person, it’s almost like they are forgetting that the one in a one in a million chance is actually a person, with a name, and a face, and feelings. But I’m probably a little sensitive these days. When we do get pregnant again, they’d like to see me right away. I will probably be put on low dose aspirin during the pregnancy as a precaution. And that was pretty much it. The whole thing took maybe forty-five minutes to an hour.
Riding home in the car, I feel relieved that it’s over and that there were no curve ball surprises. I think I’d gotten used to the idea that it was just a medical mystery. It also feels a little anticlimactic for some reason, a bit of a letdown, probably because we had to wait so long. But there are still miles to walk to get through this, with zero visibility ahead, no point on the calendar to reach. At least the most treacherous parts are behind us. On second thought, I am dreading Mother's Day and Father's Day and whatever else may pop up until we've cycled through a whole year. Just keep breathing. Keep going.
As I'm going one day, Richard stops me in the kitchen. He has really struggled with anger at God over our medical mystery, and tells me how he’s wrestled with “why?” Why did God let this happen to us? And then he shares how it occurred to him that God let it happen to his own Son. I am sort of stunned. I hadn't thought of it that way. The why question is still unanswered, but this realization somehow brings a small measure of relief.
Since it's almost Easter, this adds new meaning to a story I’ve grown up with and am somewhat desensitized to. I hate to admit that, and I try to recapture the wonder and amazement each year, but honestly I’m often a little disappointed. When I think of Easter, I think of Good Friday first, and the hideous way Jesus was beaten, made fun of, spit on, nailed to a wooden cross, and then left to suffer until His last bit of human life waned away. I never want to stay too long gawking at this gory scene. Even worse, this year I find myself thinking about Jesus’ death from God-the-Father’s perspective, as a fellow parent. This is a whole new way of thinking about God, of relating to Him, certainly not as an equal, but relating to Him nonetheless. Thinking of God in this way changes my perception of Him, expanding my view, but also narrowing it to a much more personal focus.
Someone told me when I was grieving heavily that God understands and mourns with us, but that just didn’t bring much, if any comfort. Maybe I just couldn’t get my mind around it. But I’m reconsidering that now. It’s like God and I have something in common. A funny thought.
I am also incredibly grateful that my baby girl didn’t suffer the way Jesus did. How did Mary get through that? No doubt with divine help. I, too, have had plenty of divine help on this less than pleasant journey.
And we know how this story ends, not with death. Jesus came back to life. Not an earthly life, but a Heavenly life not to be touched by death again. My little Trinity did not come back to life as I know it, but because He is risen, she is risen! My wonder and amazement are back and better than ever.