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These next two essays have taken me a while to write, mostly because I wasn’t sure how to share what happened during the second trimester of my first pregnancy.
I’ve heard that every pregnancy has its challenges. However–I honestly will tell you that I was naive enough to think that I wouldn’t have any bumps on the road! Blessed with strong genes and overall good health throughout my life, I assumed this would carry over into the pregnancy. The fact that my husband and I were able to conceive felt reassuring, and we saw nothing but smooth sailing ahead. I didn’t have any morning sickness in the first trimester. I generally feel “in tune” with my body and hadn’t noticed any warning signs or cautionary intuitions. I had nothing but pure optimism for all routine tests and monitoring.
But then it happened–we got a screening test back that required further testing, and additional follow-up exams. Without going into all the details, I’ll just say things didn’t look good. It seemed we had some very difficult decisions to make.
As we went through the testing process, I learned that the greatest value of these unsettling circumstances meant I could become closer than ever to my husband, closer in my relationship with God, and start parenting my baby in the womb.
These are some of the things I did that helped me through the unknowns:
First, I reached out to family, friends and medical professionals.
That sounds obvious, but asking advice from others is generally new for me. I would rather try and figure it out on my own. Intellectually, I know my husband and I have a community of close friends and family ready to support me through anything, but I often feel like I don’t want to burden others with my problems. In this case, I put aside my hesitation and immediately called a close friend from college who went through something similar in her pregnancy. (It is worthwhile to note that she shared her experience with me years before, otherwise I would have thought that no one had ever been through this before.) She supported me so kindly and comfortingly, and as I heard more about her journey I realized I needed to trust that this is the baby I am meant to have.
I called my midwife. On her cell phone. After hours.
My wonderful, understanding midwife has almost a quarter century of experience, and she poured it on me and our budding family. She helped me understand what the frightening test numbers actually measured, and gave me perspective by researching and telling me what severely abnormal numbers meant. She gave us spiritual guidance. And she gave practical guidance, too, such as reminding me to eat, suggesting ways to help process emotions, and telling me, whatever I did, not to search the web!
It was tempting! I wanted desperately to know how our combination of testing and numbers and results would pan out. But ultimately, no matter how many cases I read about on the web, deep down I needed to accept that our situation was unique to us, and would only play out in our unique way. I trusted that the information I got from our midwife and doctor was all I needed to know for now. I trusted that more information would be revealed.
I really prayed and meditated.
As I mentioned in the first essay in this series, I tried to say prayers daily for the development of the baby from the beginning–but as we all know, prayers in crisis are even more fervent and heartfelt! Every day during the following weeks, as we processed the information we received in the perinatologist’s office and made choices on what to do next, I prayed multiple times every day.
Even though my baby was unborn, I said a Baha’i healing prayer for infants:
I implore Thee, therefore, by Thy name through which Thou didst manifest Thy Godhead, and didst exalt Thy Cause above all creation, and by each of Thy most excellent titles and most august attributes, and by all the virtues wherewith Thy transcendent and most exalted Being is extolled, to send down this night from the clouds of Thy mercy the rains of Thy healing upon this suckling, whom Thou hast related unto Thine all-glorious Self in the kingdom of Thy creation. Clothe him, then, O my God, by Thy grace, with the robe of well-being and health, and guard him, O my Beloved, from every affliction and disorder, and from whatever is obnoxious unto Thee. Thy might, verily, is equal to all things. Thou, in truth, art the Most Powerful, the Self-Subsisting. Send down, moreover, upon him, O my God, the good of this world and of the next, and the good of the former and latter generations. Thy might and Thy wisdom are, verily, equal unto this. – Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, pp. 236-237.