Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Just Thirteen Weeks

I knew something was terribly wrong when my OBGYN called me at 8am yesterday morning and asked, "When would you be available to come into the office?"

Not good news. Not good at all.

I had already entered our second trimester. Much of the morning sickness and fatigue had subsided. All that was left was worry. And lots of it.

My husband's face was full of consternation when he arrived from the Chabad across the street following his morning prayer. I looked at the poor man's face - what could be worse for him - knowing or not knowing? For me however, I had enjoyed the two weeks of silence from not hearing the results from the genetics testing. Maybe it was because I gone through so many genetic tests in Israel with my first, that I was all tested out. Maybe it was I was still indulging in the pregnancy feeling that I didn't want anything to wave me over... who knows?

My husband's fear however, quickly caught up with me and I started to join the "panic and worry" club. The weather too, put a dampen on everything with its endless grey, rain and overcast that Pittsburgh is known for.

On the bus ride to the hospital, I had made a pact with myself that I wouldn't tear up unless it was absolutely necessary. After all, I had work-for-hire packets to send out, proposals for presentations to write, blog posts to write...After all, the week had just started and we were away in Florida the previous week for the International Reading Conference and Disneyworld....

Once at the doctor's office, I realized that I hadn't brought anything to read and being I am not one to waste time, I started making "to-do" lists for our trip to Israel. I was constantly asking Haim questions about this and that making sure that not one detail was left untouched. I heard the doctor's undulating voice in the hall and looked at my watch. We had been waiting exactly 30 minutes. For my husband, it was 30 minutes too long - for me, it had become to be a waste of time.

But it turned out that it wasn't a complete waste. In those thirty minutes, I had set my intention that I would react peacefully to whatever the doctor had to say. In a ritual of simple list making, I was already thinking ahead, planning myself for what may be in what was just an ordinary moment.

"The news isn't good," the doctor said when he finally came in. And at that moment, I knew all of our dreams were gone including the 13 weeks of the seed of life.

Then, there was a litny of words that I would much rather not hear uttered again in this lifetime.... an extra chromosome, the worst abnormality, severe abnormality, little chance of survival, at-risk of the mother's life, brain damage. At this point, my husband put his hand to his face and shuddered....I can't go on....

But one major thing hit me yesterday that will change me (us) forever...

People can never EVER understand what it means to go through an abortion or any life changing event (medical or something else) unless it (G-d forbid) happens to them.

For me personally, (and I think for dh, too) this news was like a "curse" as if someone had sponged up a chorus of broken and awful and evil energies and squeezed them out on us leaving us broken and in pain, left to pick up the words and emotions where we started from....

We are Jewish and for both of us, this news was earth shattering. As Jews whose influences were predominantly traditional and secular, we perhaps go the opposite in some halachic (laws) areas but, believe still in pursuing these kinds of tests due to my advanced maternal age. We believe in life and perpetuating its continuity. What perhaps distinguishes us from non-Jews, is that we don't believe in 'rocking the boat'. It was shall I say, "expected" that I would deliver to full-term and we would not talk about the pregnancy unless I started showing and people started asking. For this simple reason, we don't believe in having baby showers.

"It's G-d will," my husband said as we signed the consent for abortion to go through. "It's G-d will. What will be, will be."

"This has to be done, like, soon," I said with urgency, determination and confidence that I had never known could penetrate through my weak voice. "We're going to Israel in three weeks and this must be done way before that." Yes, let's get this over, let's clean it up, let's forget about it and hope that it would never ever return.

The amicable and amiable doctor said, "We could have you in the earliest by this Thursday. That is really the earliest we can do."

And the doctor in charge of surgery said at the end of reading all the things we needed to know as far as the law in Pennslyvania goes, "you can take the tissue home and have a private funeral."

Private funeral? Are you crazy? We are Jewish - why would we want to do that?

"No," I said. "We're giving it to the hospital for research. Maybe you can save another baby's life..."

I noticed the doctor made a note of that. "So are there any questions? Anything you want to know?"

"Yeah," my husband said. "What was it... a boy or a girl?"

She said tenderly and thoughtfully, "It was a girl," as if the procedure had been done with and there would be no more.

And that's when the tears came streaming down my face. Against everything I wanted, I cried for the crushed dreams for MY baby girl I would never see, never dress up in girly clothes and never have deep serious mother-daughter talks who, at just thirteen weeks old, would be just a remnant of a memory.

But when there's a will, there's hope. It would still take me time though to figure it out...


By the next day, (today) I realized what I would be going through and a good friend from Ivry's class called me. Her voice was so good and so thoughtful, I couldn't help but cry. For 24 hours, I had blocked out everything just to not worry and cry, but now it seemed, I couldn't help it.

"Don't worry, Dorit," she said. I will go with you."

It was a voice from G-d. Suddenly, I felt it was now or never. I would need to arm myself with my tribe in order to go through with this ordeal.

And I'm still calling out to that tribe now.

1 comment:

  1. My prayers go out to you and your husband. The decision to have the procedure is never easy and the choice is always complicated. I pray for peace for you as you make the choices you have been asked to make. I am here if you need me.