19 July 2010

considering the possibility

I'm fortunate enough to be married to someone who is not scared to delve into any topic. Something that has come up for us a couple of times now, for example, is this: Have you thought about if Ewan doesn't make it?

The answer is an unequivocal yes. I -- we -- have thought about it. And we've talked about it.

This shouldn't be surprising -- I've raised the issue before. While the loss of a child could happen to anyone, it's not what most expectant parents are thinking about. The possibility is especially inescapable when you know your as-yet-unborn child has a severe heart defect, the particulars of which make a seasoned pediatric cardiologist go long in the face. We know the numbers and cannot forget his words. He was too sober for us to mistake his full meaning.

So we've thought about it. It is a possibility. I have to acknowledge it. The risk is there, and it's not insignificant. It's not, as some have said, just a quick "patch him up and send him on his way" kind of proposition.

But what I don't have to do is dwell on the possibility of loss; I don't have to live there. I'm still getting a nursery ready and still buying baby things. I'm still celebrating his growth and his kicks and all signs of his rather raucous activity in the womb. I still call him by name and we still speak of him in a future tense. I still err on the side of hope for one simple reason:

Ewan is here now, and he is alive.

So we live with that reality.

As a Catholic, something that gets discussed a lot is "being open to life." This means a lot of things: not simply taking an anti-abortion stance, but actually keeping the marriage relationship open to the possibility of new life. This has taken on new layers of meaning since learning about Ewan and his heart.

Being open to life has meant not only continuing the pregnancy when the medical community presented us with the awful "option" of deliberately ending our child's life (never an option in this family), but also living with the hope even in light of the diagnosis and being open to the greater possibility that his life will continue: that Ewan will live and grow and thrive.

This doesn't mean there won't be challenges, that it will be easy, or that we're living with our heads buried deep in the sand. Living with hope is easier on some days than others, especially when taken in consideration with a host of other unknowns. But I simply refuse to behave as though he's not even here, or that we must imagine his funeral before he's even born. It's simply unthinkable to me.

This is where I have to rest right now because right now, I have a baby boy who is very much alive (and who, at almost any point of the day, is more than ready to prove it to you).

And so we live, hope, celebrate and prepare. We acknowledge the possibility of loss without living as though it is our present reality. Because here and now, he is so very much alive.


terri said...

you are a very wise mother.

Sarah said...

I love how you love Ewan. Failing to celebrate him now would be a tragedy in and of itself. Love you.

HennHouse said...

I agree with Sarah--wise words. So much to learn here. So much to love.

erin said...

'Ewan is here now, and he is alive.'
that divine simplicity.
that wisdom of following what is happening now.. living in the moment. celebrating who he, you, your family is- TODAY...
i'm excited for you to be able to hold your baby boy.
for the first words for him to hear on earth are your words of love for him... <3

Stefenie said...

This was a great post. We didn't learn of our son's heart defects until weeks after he was born so I have no idea what it is like to be pregnant knowing your child's life is at risk. I do however think that it is a great opportunity to be able to plan, process what is about to happen and feel somewhat informed ahead of time. For us learning after was a chaotic, stressful and emotional roller coaster. Through it all though I have constantly reminded myself that as long as he is breathing he is still with us. There is always HOPE in that!

Praying for you!

NikkiAWardell said...

Your HOPE is beautiful!!! The journey isn't easy and I can't speak about the pain of losing a child but, I know the fear of the possibility of losing one. We celebrated every moment of her life. After her birth and diagnosis of TOF (3 days old) we had a period of mourning but then we celebrated her life and every second of joy and light she brought!! I have 2 scrapbooks FULL of life with Abby just in her first 5 months. Ewan will bring you so much joy...just like he already has!! And your HOPE can make a world of difference...even when the doctors tell you things don't look good! It turned the world around for Abby!! Ewan is so lucky to have such faithful and wonderful parents who LOVE him so much! Hang in there...and know that here in Utah we have hope and faith for Ewan as well!

Karlissa said...

Your faith and love are amazing! You have so many praying for you and your family. Keep it up!

di said...

I agree with everyone that you are a wise and loving mother blessed with a wonderful husband and father and it is a joy to be rejoicing with you and celebrating Ewan's life now and praying for exceedingly abundantly more kicking (no no jk) Life to the full!

Anonymous said...

This is so applicable to me/us right now. The possibility of loss is real daily. Sometimes in a consuming way. But Emily is here and has been for 7 years now. I love her more every day and I know she loves me!

Two nights ago she fell asleep in my arms, NOT a common occurance. I treasured every minute, until by back gave out.