Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Not so coherent thoughts

This week, we received the saddest news one can possibly imagine. A couple we know well have lost their baby, just a few days before the due date. The contractions have started unexpectedly at home and labor progressed very rapidly, but she felt something was wrong. The umbilical cord had wrapped itself around the baby's neck; it wasn't something that could have been prevented. She was later told by the medical staff that examined her that the baby had died a while before she went into labor. 

I kept thinking about our poor friend all day long. She is healthy; she took care of herself; the pregnancy was coming along fine; she has four healthy children who were all born with no complications. Why, then? A search of the web told that it's quite common for the umbilical cord to be wrapped around the baby's neck with no problems caused by it. It can, however, cause sudden death of the baby, and while it happens very rarely, it is no consolation for the bereaved parents.

Then I began thinking desperate thoughts. Is there truly no way to prevent such tragedies? What if all expectant mothers were sent to hospital from the start of third trimester? What if they were all constantly hooked to monitors, so they could be rushed to an emergency C-section at the first sign of fetal distress? Sure, it would be a nuisance for most healthy women, but wouldn't it be worthwhile, if it could save the life of even one baby? After thinking it through I was forced, of course, to conclude that such practice would not only disrupt the normal course of life, it would probably cause an array of other complications such as depression in mothers and false alarms which lead to early C-sections, premature births, and all the problems related to that. It's just that it's so, so hard to come to terms with the fact that sometimes, out of the blue, babies die and the whole family suffers a tragic blow.

The day after that, we received a phone call from my brother-in-law. He called to tell us his wife had just delivered a healthy baby girl, their fifth child. We were stunned because, as strange as it may sound, we didn't even know my sister-in-law was pregnant. Last time we saw her in person was several months ago, when the pregnancy didn't show yet (or perhaps we just didn't look close enough!), and then the subject just didn't come up in conversation. So, we offered our heartfelt congratulations and hung up, still hardly believing what we heard.

In other circumstances, I would probably have felt a slight pang in my heart. I never meant to be envious, but if you think about it, it's quite natural. I live in a society where, it seems, everyone is pregnant all the time. Families all around are constantly growing, while I'm not sure whether I will ever have another child. But at that moment, all I could think of was my friend, the one who lost her baby. It was her fifth one, too. Just a week ago I looked at her big pregnant belly wistfully, wishing I could trade places with her. I did not know what I was asking for.

All of a sudden, I experienced an overwhelming sensation of wanting nothing. Not a bigger house, not a more comfortable life, not even more children. I grieved with those who grieved, and rejoiced in the joy of others, and was content with my lot. 


sara said...

I don't know what to say, Anna. The Lord gives and the Lord takes. Blessed be His name.

Kim said...

You and your friend are in my prayers.

Leah Brand-Burks said...

How utterly bitter and sweet, so closely hugged together in your world. Prayers for your dear friends.

Lady Anne said...

So dreadfully sad. I truly ache for your friends.

As you said, constant monitoring is obviously not possible, but I'm wondering how often doctors in Israel do sonograms. It seems that if this problem could have been identified earlier, a C-section could have been performed.

When my granddaughter went in for her first pre-natal sono, the baby was very, very busy, playing peek-a-boo with the cord, doing somersaults, turning backwards, until the doctor had to put his hand on her belly and "trap" the little rascal so they could find out if it was a boy or a girl. He did mention they would have to keep an eye on things. He didn't say so, but it might be to avoid the horrible tragedy your friend experienced.

Again, I send her hugs and prayers that the Lord will ease her pain.

Anonymous said...

I think especially in religious communities or cultures where there are babies always being born everywhere, women who have known loss and women who have to accept having far fewer children than they may have wanted really need each other in friendship and support. At worst, childbearing is made into an idol, yet at best sometimes it seems to be almost taken for granted when lives or years pass and there are many people who seem to get all the children they could want, all healthy and well and alive. People who have known loss or who have heartache about children not born are kind of supposed to keep quiet and forget or not exist, in the face of life's celebration of all the precious babies who are born, but I think these are women who need to hear from each other so much.

Fmbe said...

I am very sad for your friend. This is a tine when God shows how unfathomable his ways are. There is no reason and there is no prevention. Only faith in his purpose and love. I say this as a mother of a child who died as well. Peace to all.

Jennifer said...

Thank you for you thoughtful and insightful post. Comparing my life and what I feel is lacking can be a struggle. I have been constantly reminding myself to focus on my blessing and appreciate the encouragement in your post.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your friend.
Our fifth child also had her umbilical cord around her neck. Shortly before the due date, something felt amiss, so we went to the hospital. During an emergency c-section five loops of cord were unwrapped from around her neck before she could be delivered. She is fine, but it could so easily have ended differently.
Your friend is in my prayers.