I sit staring at the tocometer strips, bored. The little lines dash up & down. The mama in room 8 is doing well—baby responding to contractions. Room 2, fine. And room 4, in for observation, hasn’t made any changes over the last two hours.
The noise jolts me from daydreams. Flashing green on all monitor screens—FETAL BRADYCARDIA.
We see a steep deceleration of the fetal heart rate in room 6. And five nurses go running.
Mama didn’t see the blue baby squeezed out—a tube down her throat. Under general anesthesia in just enough time to save baby, rushed to the NICU.
polyhydramnios made a yellow amniotic river on the floor beneath our feet.
I visit the little one later. Microcephaly, just as the ultrasound indicated. IUGR, like the images said. Mental retardation, undoubtedly present.
And yet Mama insisted at a chance she’d be fine.
I thought her foolish, ignorant even. I thought her doubtful, untrusting of the “professionals”. I thought her childish, discounting the obvious truth.
But now? Now I think her HOPEFUL.
Hopeful for those 34 weeks while she grew inside her belly. Hopeful despite our downtrodden greetings. Hopeful amidst the sullen grins, the shaking heads, the “I’m sorry’s” & “You’ll love her the same’s”. Hopeful during the painful realization that her daughter would never grow in the normal sequence of development, hopeful at each pre-natal checkup, hopeful at each 4-D ultrasound.
Hopeful that something might change, that we were wrong the last time.
And maybe, just maybe, hopeful that God can heal to our standards, I think.
I stand staring at that Little One. That little tiny package, breathing & pink, who entered the world in scary circumstance. And now, out to face the world.
And those prior thoughts of Mama, the ignorance & foolishness come rushing back. This time, I’m accusing myself. Because I don’t want to look at that malformed baby. I don’t want to watch her shallow & broken breaths. I don’t want to stare at that too-small-head, those club feet. I can’t manage to interpret the non-axial lines of that EKG…and can’t swallow the guilt that comes with the relief that she isn’t mine.
But she is someone’s. She’ll go home to grow up with her Mama. The HOPEFUL Mama who, from the very beginning, thought her to match the World’s Normal. The HOPEFUL Mama who, from the first sound of heartbeat chose to love what she did not know. The HOPEFUL Mama who, despite the prompts & the criticisms gave this child LIFE. The HOPEFUL Mama who defied modern medicine & trusted in Someone Greater.
The HOPEFUL Mama who was unbearably BRAVE, unceasingly LOVING, undoubtedly OPTIMISTIC.
The HOPEFUL Mama who accepted her assignment with Grace & embraced GOD’S STANDARDS instead of the World’s.
HOPE, let me be your student.