Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Two weeks ago, after having a 21-week ultrasound and meeting with the person known hereabouts (that is, in my mind) as Midwife Plague, whom I usually avoid like ... you know ... a Level 2 ultrasound was scheduled for the Fetal Care Unit at the Children's Hospital in Charlottesville.

At that meeting two weeks ago, Midwife Plague, ever enjoying her role as Bearer of Potentially Bad and Disruptive News, put on her best "I've never had children and this is why" face and proceeded to tell me that

  1. The baby has a cyst on its brain.
  2. There is excess amniotic fluid (polyhydramnios), and
  3. You are old and have lots of children. What else did you expect?
She suspected that a) it could be nothing, but b) it was more likely something, esp. because of the aforementioned no. 3. The "something" she suspected and I should ready myself for was one of the Trisomies -- Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), Trisomy 18 (Edwards' syndrome), or Trisomy 13 (Patau syndrome).

I agreed to scheduling a Level 2 ultrasound and perhaps meeting with a genetic counselor and then drove straight to Ethan's office, sat down, and cried, saying, "There's nothing wrong. Ignore my crying. There's probably nothing wrong." I told him I was NOT going to google anything and then went home, only to have him call and say, "Maybe you should google it...I've looked it up and I think she's wrong." He found more and more evidence to put his mind at ease while I found more and more to put me on edge.

The next two weeks were spent praying, and reading my Bible, and being thoroughly irritated with Midwife Plague's bedside manner (which had also thoroughly irritated me when she was the attendant at Zeb's birth), and praying some more, and pleading, "Make me a willing servant, and Thy will be done, but please be merciful in Thy will," and not sleeping very well.

And then yesterday came. Ethan and I drove to the hospital, sat in the darkened ultrasound room, and tried to decipher the ultrasound pictures and the sonographer's poker face.

When the doctor came in and said, "Your baby looks perfect. I see absolutely nothing concerning in any way. Your fluid levels are normal; there is no cyst...and if I did see a cyst, it wouldn't concern me because as our ultrasound equipment gets better and better, we are seeing more and more of them...everything looks wonderful..." well, there just are not words for the relief and shock that overwhelmed me.

All that was left to do was celebrate. We took a 15-minute tromp through Whole Foods (because 15 minutes of pretentious cloth bag-carting yuppies and mothers who will. not. stop. talking. to their disobedient long-haired little boys is about all I can handle, plus, there's that whole "we love our crystal stick deodorants and raw garlic salves and should we pick up more patchouli?" smell that overwhelms the pregnant nose). Then we pranced through World Market, picking up a whopping two items: Red Curry potato chips and some dark chocolate with mango and coconut. We tried out Karen's wonderful suggestion for a restaurant: the Mediterranean Mezeh (and to my sister, Rebecca: GO THERE!). I had the lamb and Ethan had the steak and we could probably eat there every night of our lives and still want more.

Then there was Williams-Sonoma, because everyone needs a good laugh in an air-conditioned pristinely white "I'll take the copper KitchenAid and you take the strawberry huller-and-slicer" environment.

And finally, a coffee and a pastry to nourish us on our way home.

My belly was (more than) full, my heart was so light, and in my purse were eleven copies of the profile of another little Allison Stinker, because the doctor said every sibling should get his/her own picture.

I know these things don't look like much. I'm always saying I can never tell whether it's a baby or a pending weather alert. 

But this...all eleven copies of this ultrasound picture and all eleven real-life copies asking about a reminder to me. He is faithful, and He has been merciful, and this would be true even were the outcome different.

I give thanks for that solace.

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