The OB/GYN looked down at the young couple authoritatively and did his best to console them. “I’m very sorry, I know how much you’ve been looking forward to another child. But you’ve lost this baby. I know how much this hurts, but you’re very young and have plenty of time to try again.”
The 29 year old looked up from the beautiful baby bump and met the eyes of the doctor. This father was a veterinarian, and as such had significantly more medical knowledge than perhaps most other expecting parents.
“But Dr. Shure, how can you be so certain? Couldn’t there still be a heartbeat even though your doppler stethoscope can’t locate it?”
The physician looked so soothingly compassionate. “Bill, I’ve done this for a long time. Your wife has an abnormal pregnancy with a condition known as placenta previa, and although sometimes this corrects itself, this time it’s getting much worse. We need to get her downstairs for a D & C before she loses any more blood.”
This was before the age of Google, but hours had been spent digging into his medical books, leaving the young father with an irritating unwillingness to follow doctor’s orders. “I’m not comfortable with your advice. I think we should get an ultrasound to see if the baby’s still alive.” Dr. Shure’s compassion was becoming transparent as his confidence turned to arrogance. “It doesn’t really matter. Even if there’s a heartbeat, there won’t be very soon.”
Knowing very well that this would be self-fulfilling if they went downstairs, they nodded in agreement. “We want an ultrasound,” they said in unison. “We’re Catholic, and we’re just not comfortable with abortion as an alternative.”
Dr. Shure was red-faced now and the veins on the side of his forehead were clearly visible from across the room. “Well, I’m Catholic too, but this is important, you need to face reality. You are making a mistake, and wasting time.”
Perhaps they had different definitions of Catholic, or different interpretations of what was important. For them their faith was what helped them discern what really is important, as they face reality. Risking his further disapproval of their blind ignorance, Bill clarified: “Well, we’re practicing Catholics.”
The door closed abruptly as the man they had chosen to help them bring forth life left in disgust. And so the young couple was engulfed with fear as they looked down at the bloody sheets. Before they could get her dressed, a nurse came in to assist. “The doctor doesn’t understand your feelings, but I certainly do. I’ve made arrangements for you across the street to have an ultrasound performed, and they’ll be waiting for you.”
Their tears of joy were contagious with the entire staff at the imaging center, who now knew what was happening, and were all in tears. Emily’s heart was most certainly beating, and it continues today.
It wasn’t an easy final 6 months of pregnancy, all spent in bed. Any attempt to become vertical resulted in massive blood loss, and progesterone supplements were taken as a precaution against premature labor.
Of course the young man was me and today I remember that fateful day. Beautiful memories of each of my five children have carried me through some pretty tough times. Today is September 13, and I celebrate one of them. Happy Birthday Emily.
Please help me celebrate by remembering precious memories of your own children, or siblings, or growing up. Recall a moment when something life changing happened. Give someone a hug and tell them how much you love them and how glad you are that they’re alive today.
Life is beautiful.