Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Thing Called Life

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God... (Ecclesiastes 11:5)

There was joy in our lives on September 9th, when Erika and I learned that she was pregnant with our second child. This news came after what felt like an eternity of first doing everything by the book, then moving on to fertility meds, then to four intrauterine inseminations, and ultimately to in vitro fertilization. (With Sarah, our first child, Erika became pregnant almost immediately, so having to take all these steps this time around felt even more frustrating than it already would have. Erika recently began her own blog to comment on it.)

Two mornings ago, we were visited by pain when we learned that our baby passed away. The writing was on the wall at a doctor's apppointment one day earlier, and our fears were confirmed Friday when we saw the baby on ultrasound -- without blood flow, without a heartbeat, and measuring just over six weeks in size when he or she should have measured about ten weeks.

The fact that our second child never advanced beyond the very early stages of development does not make him or her any less special or less human. It feels very strange using phrases like "he or she" and "him or her" when referring to our child, but no human being should ever be referred to as "it." In layman's language, there are male sperm and female sperm which determine a child's sex at the moment of conception, but after conception occurs some time must pass before science can discern the baby's sex -- and considering how young our baby was at the time life ended, it is unlikely that chromosomal testing will be able to answer that question.

Facts forced the emotional pendulum to swing yet again yesterday, when we held Sarah's fourth birthday party and saw her having fun with her friends and taking huge leaps in her swimming progress. Today is her actual birthday and we will enjoy it with her.

Words are not capable of conveying the swirl of emotions involved in these recent events, so I will not attempt to describe them. But in spite of them, I am at peace and will move forward. Millions before us have faced such trials, and many of them have faced trials that are even harder to confront.

For reasons I can't explain, I have always known that things happen for a reason and that everything will work out in the end, so long as we don't lose faith and so long as we do our duties as we understand them.

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