This is part 4 of our high-risk pregnancy journey about finding perspective in grief or hard times by keeping your eyes open. Our unborn son has a lower urinary tract obstruction- posterior urethral valve. Read parts 1, 2, 3 and 4.
It was one of the longest weekends to date. He made a decision, he felt down. He made the other decision, still no peace. He looked to me for guidance and I had none to give. I felt helpless as he bared the weight.
Soon after arriving to our new Air Force Base, my husband’s boss asked him how my pregnancy was going. I’m sure he expected a polite, maybe even boring response, but instead, Andy told him the truth. Later that day several higher-ups called Andy into a meeting and asked him to take the year off from his orthodontic residency. The decision was still his to make, but his bosses made their wishes known; Andy had until Monday to decide.
You may be reading this thinking the decision was a no-brainer, you may think I wanted Andy to take them up on the offer, but I didn’t know what to think. We came here thinking it was a two year assignment and suddenly it would turn into three—the longest we have been stationed anywhere in our military life.
Andy and I met when we were both 18 years old. In a sea of sorority girls, I some how stood out to him with my then long curly hair and red top on the front steps of his fraternity house. Although I had a boyfriend, he stood out to me, with his college-swooped hair, yellow polo shirt and an unfamiliar southern charm. It would take two years of run-ins for him to tell me how he felt, but I never forgot our first conversation where he told me his life plan: to be an orthodontist.
How could I tell him to take his bosses up on their offer? He had been waiting for this for more than a decade. And really, more than that, the truth was: I didn’t want to admit that our lives had gotten bad again. I didn’t want to acknowledge that our situation was so extreme, that it warranted us to turn our lives more upside down than it already was. I didn’t want to confess to them, to ourselves, that maybe they were right—we couldn’t handle the stress of this pregnancy, delivering in a different city, surgery, an extended hospital stay and also the stress of the residency. Our dream of another uneventful pregnancy was already crushed, why did another dream have to come to a halt, too?
After consulting several mentors, Andy decided to take the year off from residency and continue working as a general dentist. We realized his residency directors had given us a gift, but it was a hard one to accept.
It was Monday and before going to talk to Andy’s bosses, we had to take our son Anderson to the pediatrician. Knowing that the pediatrician knew at least a little about our new son’s diagnosis, I told the doctor what was going on and said to him, “We’re doing the right thing, right?” He responded in a way I couldn’t, that no one could, prepare for, “We had a child die from cancer, you are absolutely doing the right thing.”
I don’t think he meant it in a way that he expected our son to not make it, but instead in a way that life is precious, unpredictable and that we should embrace this time we had been given.
Two days later we went in for an emergency appointment because I started having contractions. The doctor examined me and after telling us that all looked stable, we started making casual conversation. I asked him, “So, you have three kids?” “No, we have four, but we lost our daughter to a rare genetic condition.”
That same afternoon we rushed home to interview a respite provider for our children. I liked her right away. She exuded confidence and light. And then she told us her story: she was a refugee from the Congo who came to America as a child to escape slaughter.
Three people in three days who have stories of unimaginable pain and trials, yet all had managed to go on. Not only go on, but to make a difference. The doctors chose to continue caring for others, the respite provider is working on her masters and will specialize in helping orphans find forever families.
My point is not to say that our problems, your problems, are not as bad as they seem. But yes, there are others out there who have likely had it harder than you. Instead of letting that statement make us defensive, we should instead realize this: we are not alone. We are all connected by the trials of this life. And if you know your heavenly father, then there is even greater comfort in reading His word. Not because He guarantees to relieve our pain, but because he promises to be there with us when it inevitably comes.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
It’s easy to get lost in the disappointment. With the exception of a growing belly and a home in a new state, 2017 has not at all turned out the way I expected or wanted. But even as I write this today, I went through old pictures and was reminded again that there has been joy in the trials. There have been daddy-daughter dates, milestones met, old friends that were hard to say goodbye to, new friends being made and our children are growing closer to each other everyday.
That week was a hard one for our family, it’s still hard. Admitting that our pregnancy had taken ahold of our lives in another unwanted way was yet another disappointment we’ve faced over the last three years. But we are not alone in our disappointments.
Instead of falling into the temptation of keeping our lives pointed inward, we will aim to live with our eyes wide open. We will help others going through the hardest parts of life and will accept help from others willing to walk with us. We will search and be thankful for the light that exists in the middle of the darkness. And no matter what happens, we will go on, seeking to fulfill our life’s purposes even in our painful circumstances.
We are on this earth, not to walk alone, but side-by-side, not to look downward, but upward, not to let trials become roadblocks, but instead speed bumps and sometimes, maybe even springboards.
Medical update: We learned that the urinoma on our son’s right kidney has gotten larger. At this point his abdomen is measuring full term- meaning it is too big for birth. Right now, they are planning on draining the urinoma while I’m in labor. I will move away from my family in preparation for deliver this week. For more frequent medical and life updates, follow us on Facebook.