Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The best teddy bear ever

My writing has been pretty long-winded and something of a bummer as of late, though I suspect you'll forgive me for that. Even so, I think maybe it's time for a nice short post with a little more... cheer. You'll like this.

On the truly excellent recommendation of Cori's midwife, we went to the nearest Build-A-Bear™, picked up one of their little recording devices, and brought it to a recent appointment so we could capture Aiden's heartbeat. One more quick trip to the ursine customization facility and we were the proud owners of this little guy:

He's pretty much my favorite stuffed animal of all time.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Tough decisions and tougher odds

A few weeks ago, Cori and I sat down and had a tough conversation. You're likely thinking that difficult talks must be somewhat commonplace for us right now, and of course you're right. This particular chat, however, was more important than most. You see, we knew that at some point one of our well-meaning friends or family members would suggest to us that we should get an abortion, and we needed to be prepared with an answer.

They wouldn't use those words, of course. They'd be far more politically correct. Instead of "abortion" they would say "terminating the pregnancy" or maybe "releasing the fetus from the womb", and it would be put forth as the kinder, less selfish course of action. I suspect my tone has already revealed my thoughts on the topic, but I'll continue anyway, primarily because this would be a weird moment to abruptly stop writing.

In short, we decided that we are completely unwilling to entertain an abortion, and only a very clear and very severe risk of Cori dying would ever cause us to even revisit the issue. We will not rob our son of whatever small chance he has at life, no matter how short a life that ends up being. We are not giving up on Aiden. Not now, not ever.

Unfortunately, we can only speak for ourselves. I've recently started to get a tangible defeatist vibe from some of the people around us, most specifically the medical professionals. Toward the end of our most recent appointment, our doctor finished a sentence with, "...Oh, and let's not bother with the gestational diabetes test. There's no sense putting you through that."

For those that don't know, the test for gestational diabetes is pretty much standard procedure for expecting mothers any more. They draw blood, then make the poor woman drink some gross sugary slime (Cori said it tasted like Tang and snot), have her sit and read the decade-old copies of Redbook in the waiting room for a few hours, then draw blood again. By comparing the "before" and "after" blood samples, they can tell if her body is properly processing the sugar. If not, she'll be put on a diet and exercise program to compensate. Side note: I don't ever want a job that requires me to tell pregnant women that they need to start dieting.

Now initially my reaction to the doctor saying that Cori could skip the test was, "Oh, good. She was dreading the thought of having to choke down that nasty stuff again." Later, however, I started to get uneasy about the whole thing. Why did he say there was "no sense" in doing the test? Gestational diabetes, when present, notably increases the risk of a stillbirth. Isnt that something we would rather avoid, or is there "no sense" in putting Cori through the test because the doctor figures Aiden is already as good as dead?

There have been a few other recent examples as well... Times where a doctor or nurse has said, "Now normally we'd test for this or be careful of that or keep in mind that other thing", quickly followed by, "...but I think maybe we won't worry about it right now." Don't get me wrong... I'm a big fan of not worrying. Cori will attest to the fact that I take great pride in my ability to suppress and ignore things that might otherwise upset me. That said, anything that endangers my children gets a special exemption from my normally calm facade. I worry about my kids, and even though he won't be born for another several months, Aiden is still my son.

All of this talk is of course wildly unfair to the doctors and nurses. They're in an impossible position. They have to make recommendations based on what they know to be probable, and all of their training and experience tells them that it's simply foolish to expect anything but an extremely short and extremely painful life for our baby boy. They're not really giving up, they're just playing the odds, and I shouldn't blame them for doing so. They've seen this before, and they know how it always ends.

As we move forward, we're going to have to face more tough choices, and I expect that we'll continue to hear whispers of futility in the words of our advisers. We'll try not to take it too personally. Instead, we'll make decisions with our son's best interests in mind, decisions that will give him the best chance at life, decisions that will give us the best chance to hold him. Aiden's story is likely a tragedy, but our part to play is one of only love.