The Miracle of a Little Life that Almost Wasn't

This is the story of how my youngest child almost didn’t exist. He wouldn’t be here today if I had followed my doctor’s advice. She admitted she was wrong. I wonder how many other times she and her colleagues have made such a grievous error.

My youngest son was conceived the week of September 11, 2001. A day that will live on in our memories -- a day that changed the world. By the time September was over, we had done a pregnancy test, and confirmed that we were indeed pregnant, again.

My first three pregnancies had been anything but smooth -- but the children were born healthy and well, and were thriving as normal children were supposed to. Since my third son was born, I had suffered two miscarriages just over a year apart from each other. So finding out I was pregnant was exciting as well as scary. Within a few days of the positive test I started to feel nauseous in the mornings -- a good sign that the pregnancy was sticking. (I hadn’t felt that with the last pregnancy, and I had miscarried).

I was in contact with my doctor early on, as I didn’t want to lose this pregnancy too. The minute a woman learns she is pregnant, a space is made in her heart for this child. She starts dreaming about the child she carries within her. It’s instinctive. And I am no different. I took progesterone hormone supplements (those of you who have had to take them, you know that I don’t mean pills to swallow) in order to just boost my body’s ability to handle the pregnancy. I didn’t pick up my other kids, although the youngest was already three and didn’t really need picking up that much. I did everything I was told to do to ensure this baby stuck.

I was two months pregnant. I felt a twinge in my lower back. Ok, I guess I need to lie down. It got worse. I went to the bathroom; I was bleeding. Oh no, here we go again I thought. But worse than the bleeding was the pain. We got to the hospital, where their immediate concern was the belief that I had an ectopic pregnancy. This is a pregnancy that doesn’t make it to the uterus, but gets stuck in the fallopian tubes, and can be life threatening if untreated.

Test results came in -- negative. They felt that an in-depth ultrasound was needed to check if the baby was still viable. The ultrasound technician declared her findings: There was a fetal sac, but no heartbeat was visible, and at this stage of the pregnancy it should be. Her conclusion: the baby was not viable. My ob/gyn was paged.

Meanwhile I was still in agony. They had diagnosed me first with the ectopic pregnancy, then they put me on drugs to cure a kidney infection -- which they quickly realized was also a misdiagnosis. They prescribed me morphine, even though in my mind I was still pregnant and shouldn’t have been taking it. The pain was that bad.

I remember lying in bed in my hospital room, with Dr ThreePushes sitting next to me, holding my hand, trying to convince me that I had lost my baby, and that I need to let her do a D&C to clean out the womb, something that I was unfortunately familiar with from my first miscarriage. I told her that she was wrong, that despite what the ultrasound showed, I was still pregnant. I told her I felt pregnant, and that I know my own body. Every time I fell pregnant, I knew right away. With both miscarriages, I knew in my soul that my babies were lost. I didn’t feel that now. I felt deep within me that this baby was still viable. My doc was skeptical, tried very hard to shake me out of my deep denial. She told me the blood tests showed low level HcG, another sign of a missed miscarriage. She wanted to schedule a D&C for the next day. I persuaded her to hold off, at least until after I had spoken with my rabbi.

The rabbi was unreachable for most of the next 24 hours, which was most unlike him, but I refused to allow my doctor to go ahead with the D&C until I had spoken it over with my spiritual leader. However, Dr ThreePushes explained to me that leaving it much longer, if in fact the baby had passed, could compromise my health.


Credit: timsamoff.

I managed to get her to agree to do another ultrasound. I told her that if this ultrasound was the same as the other one performed the day before, that I would allow her to go ahead and schedule the procedure. It frustrated me to not be able to be in contact with my rabbi, but I had to accept it.

We went downstairs to the ultrasound place. I was shaking like a leaf. I knew deep in my bones that I had not lost this baby. But medical science didn’t seem to agree with me. The technician called us in. When she saw us, she did a double take. She was the same tech as the day before and the look on her face was that we were wasting her time and resources.

I lay on the table as she prepared all of the equipment. At that moment I gave it all up to G-d. I really felt that I communicated with Him, lying there on that cold ultrasound table. I put it all in His hands and told myself that I would trust that whatever would be, would be the right thing. I had a tremendous sense of peace come over me.

Meanwhile the waves of resentment were emanating from the tech. She didn’t want to be there. She made that damn obvious. She consulted with her superior, who probably told her she had no choice in the matter, as she started the scan.

I was too frightened to look at the screen, so I chose to look at her face instead. I had a profile view. I was perplexed to see a tear run down her cheek two minutes into the scan. She picked up the phone, murmured something into it, and continued to scan. Within 30 seconds there was a doctor in the room, having a hushed conversation in French with the tech. The doc took over the scanning. There was a look of blatant shock on both their faces, and at this point I got really very scared.

I finally had enough, asked them to stop conversing in French whispers around me, and tell me in plain English what the heck was going on.

They explained: Where yesterday there had been an empty fetal sac, today there was a “normal for two months” fetal sac and a heartbeat. A strong heartbeat. They showed me on the screen where the heart was beating. They said that it was absolutely impossible that this could have changed in 24 hours. Impossible. But there it was, in front of their very eyes. They were both very moved, and a little disturbed.

I was returned to my hospital room, feeling as if I had won the lottery. I knew it was still a precarious situation but I was right. My baby was viable. Dr ThreePushes showed up soon after, also in shock. She told me, later, after the birth of the baby, that every time she came across someone in a similar situation whose intuition told them they were still pregnant, she insisted that they have an ultrasound a few days later, just to make sure they would not be aborting a healthy fetus.

This was truly miraculous; there was no other way to explain it. I wonder what my rabbi would have said, but at the end of the day it didn’t matter. My baby was not dead. They couldn’t explain the pain. They thought that perhaps I miscarried a twin. But at that moment all that mattered was that I was right, and if I had listened to medical advice I would have lost my baby.

The pregnancy did not improve much. I was on bed rest until I gave birth. 30 weeks on bed rest with many complications, but this baby was a stubborn little fighter and hung in there until 37 weeks and 4 days into the pregnancy when I went into labor. After 20 hours of laboring. the baby decided he didn’t want to come out; he liked his accommodations. A caesarean was performed, and our little miracle was born healthy: 5lbs 12 ozs, 10 fingers, 10 toes, absolutely perfect.

Many times I think back to that afternoon, that moment when I gave all my trust to G-d. If only we could feel that kind of trust on a regular day when nothing huge is at stake. That is a level of faith I hope one day to reach.

Originally posted on my blog In The Pink.

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