Today has been quite sad for me.
This morning, I got an email from our birth class instructor, telling the sad news of one of our favorite couples from the class, Dustin and Mindy, who had gone into labor at 41 weeks. At my last prenatal appt., the secretary at the birth center had told me that they were transferred, but she didn’t give me any more details at the time.
Apparently, when Mindy’s water broke, it was black– a bad sign indicating that the baby had already pooped in the uterus. She was immediately transferred to Baylor where they did an emergency C-Section. They then diagnosed the baby with sepsis, an infection that used to be a common cause of death for babies before modern medicine. There’s no way to detect it beforehand– the only way to deal with it is to get the infant to the hospital as soon as possible.
After 8 days of fighting, however, their little 6 lb. girl, Trinity Elise, passed away. I can’t tell you how much hearing this news breaks my heart. I was just trying to explain to Jesse why this seems so much more unfair than other deaths. I mean, it’s one thing to lose a child, but it rarely ever happens this way. After having just gone through 9 months of pregnancy, I can safely say that it’s the most unfathomable thing to even think about, especially considering the firstborn-factor. All the anticipation, hopes, gone after just a week. Only a week to enjoy the fruit of the miserable experience that is pregnancy.
It also feels unfair because so few babies die every year that it is very unexpected. There probably aren’t even support groups for this type of thing. It never even occurs to most parents that their baby could die of some weird disease within a few days of birth, simply because modern medicine has eliminated most of these deaths. I definitely prepared myself for the possibility of miscarriage that first trimester because almost every couple I know has had one at some point in their marriage. A miscarriage would be devastating to me, but it wouldn’t blindside me the way that losing Gregory that first week would have.
Another birth story contributing to these feelings of mine is that of one of the girls from my Torrey group. Christy posted on my Facebook wall a few months ago, excited that our babies were due on nearly the same day! After Gregory was born, I checked on her facebook wall, and her baby boy, Samuel, was also in the NICU, seeing as a valve in his heart had failed to close. He underwent major heart surgery just days ago! Their only pictures of him thus far have him hooked up to tons of tubes and monitors…as a new mom who suffered a lot more than Gregory during his circumcision, I can’t even imagine the pain of witnessing one’s baby endure all that.
I know my perspective on this issue is most likely skewed because I am grieving for both of these couples, but it has also caused me to re-evaluate so much of what I think about our own experience with Gregory. What a miracle he is, and what a miracle that nothing was wrong with him! Sure, 21 hours of labor, an episiotomy and a cracked tailbone weren’t fun, but I’d do it again tomorrow if he needed it. In those bleary hours of the morning, when I hear Gregory cry and I stumble over to pick him up, cursing the hour and how TIRED I am, all it takes is one look at his face and I immediately feel awash with love for him and gratitude to God for giving me this privilege. Who are Jesse and I, that we were given such a blessing, and a wonderful godly couple like Dustin and Mindy had theirs taken away?
The feelings that I am experiencing are probably best categorized as “survivor’s guilt”, something I’ve struggled with ever since the suicide of one of my childhood friends. He and I struggled with so many of the same vices throughout our teenage years, yet God helped me to recover. This guilt was what Father Wayne and I spent most of my first confession on, back when Jesse and I were catechumens at St. Barnabas. I couldn’t think about what happened to my friend without feeling like it should have been ME, in all fairness. Why did God choose to save me, while allowing my friend to be swallowed up?
These are just thoughts that I am currently processing. I don’t have a conclusion, or any resolution as of yet. I know that “God’s ways are not ours”, but so often I feel like we live our lives dodging bullets or getting hit by them, just depending on the day. These thoughts are fatalistic, at best, but it’s where I’m at. For now.
If you would like to see the prayer page created for little Trinity and her parents, you can click here. They have set up a way to donate to the family in order to alleviate some of the medical expenses they have incurred as a result of everything.