Thursday, May 30, 2013

Let Nature Take Its Course?

Now that I'm pregnant again, memories from my other two pregnancies keep resurfacing. Which weeks I was the sickest. Hip pain that tortured me for most of Carter's pregnancy. At what point I exploded into a giant ball of fat. Specific doctors appointments.

Last night for some reason, a doctors appointment came to mind. A sad memory that I keep tucked away.

It was towards the end of Addison's pregnancy (I think it was in the early 30 weeks), and I went into the appointment prepared to discuss birth plans. I wanted to go all natural, and I had some questions for the doctor. But we never got around to discussing it because halfway through the appointment, the doctor said

"Do you want medical intervention to save your baby's life if necessary, or do you want nature to take its course?"

As I was silent, rather shocked by the question, she continued

"That's what we ask all parents of handicapped children."

Now she asked this question very gently and kindly, but I felt rather stung by the word "handicap" to describe my baby that I hadn't even met yet.

I remember responding in a daze that of course I would want them to do whatever it takes to save her. I wanted them to give her life as much effort as they would give any other baby.

The doctor nodded and noted that on my chart.

Remembering this last night, I realized that the true sting in that conversation wasn't the word "handicap." It was that a small part of me wanted to say "No. Don't help her. It will be easier to just say goodbye than to face a life of hardship. Don't perform medical intervention. Let nature take its course."

The last three years have given me some perspective on this that I didn't have at the time. I have no doubt that without medical help, Addison would not have survived very long. She was extremely sick and needed a lot of help for a long time. Looking back on this now- remembering my small desire to say that- but refusing to let myself go there- I think of how once again I almost missed out on something very good.

After all- if Addison had been born a century ago- the medical intervention she needed wouldn't have even been possible. Would it have been a wrong decision? "To let nature take its course"- isn't God in control of that? Were we trying to play God by prolonging a life that he designed to only say "hello goodbye?"

I don't let myself feel guilty about the small part of me that wanted to say that. I hadn't met Addison. It seemed hugely easier than what I thought we were facing- especially if that was the way it was meant to be. But the bigger part of me that said vehemently "OF COURSE we want you to try everything you can" knew that to go the other route was to give up-to give up on a life perfectly created. 

God allowed Addison to be born in a time when the help was there that she needed. To not access that when we could? To me that seemed like giving up on a good thing gifted to us (a little girl) just because the outcome was unknown and therefore seemed scary.

I think about the joy, happiness, and extreme blessing that Addison has brought our family, and I am so thankful.

Of course I don't speak for any other families or any other situations, because I understand that sometimes letting nature take its course is the absolute right decision. But for us? It would have been the wrong one.

Since this pregnancy caught us a bit by surprise, I'm not afraid to admit that I have had significant fear about it. Being so involved in the special needs community- watching friends and family lose children- I know how many different ways this pregnancy can go.

But that memory from Addison's pregnancy- knowing how uncertain everything was- remembering the fear- recalling the pain from this doctors appointment- it's so reassuring to know that the same God that brought us through all of that with our perfect Addison also designed this new little baby. That's more comforting than all the prenatal tests, screenings, and ultrasounds in the world.

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