May 14, 2010

Control and Everyday Miracles

I see miracles every time I go to work. From every pregnant woman that comes up in labor to every new mom holding her newborn. Sometimes we forget how miraculous pregnancy really is. One egg and one sperm meet under circumstances that have to have perfect timing. They combine, divide over and over and over, perfectly. Each mother's body knows how to nourish this new life, how to keep it safe, and it knows when it's time to start that amazing process called labor that we have yet to completely figure out. The body knows. Then after some time, a new life is here - a newborn baby, and with it's first cry makes it's transition from its amniotic fluid world to an a world where air fills it's lungs.

Sometimes things aren't always so "perfect". Sometimes the timing of the sperm and egg meeting is perfect, but fertilization doesn't happen. Or it occurs but it doesn't divide just the way it should. Or the woman's body starts labor a bit too soon, or there is a complication that threatens the life of the unborn baby. We have technology to fight it. We have IVF, IUI, progesterone, clomid and many other meds to try to help pregnancy be achieved. We have cerclages to help keep a shortening cervix from opening. We have terbutaline and Magnesium Sulfate to try and stop preterm labor. We also try to prevent seizure and lower blood pressure from pre-eclampsia with medications, including Mag Sulfate. We have vacuums, forceps and operating rooms for when something just isn't going like we want and we need to get the baby delivered. Sometimes we are successful in controlling mother nature/playing God. Sometimes we are not. Sometimes God/mother nature/whatever being you believe in, lets us know that WE are not in control at all. Sometimes it is revealed that the baby has birth defects that are incompatible with life. Sometimes we can perform surgery to correct this...sometimes there is nothing we can do. We can put a mom on bedrest, start her on blood pressure medicine, Magnesium Sulfate to prevent seizures...but she still seizes. We can do NST's and ultrasounds and biophysical profiles to assure ourselves that the baby is doing fine...and then mom notices no movement and the baby has died. Sometimes we can use all the medications we have to stop preterm labor, put mom on bedrest with her head below her heart to prevent the weight of the baby from putting pressure on her cervix, we can place a stitch in the cervix to try and stop it from opening...and she still delivers prematurely. We can fertilize an egg outside of the mother's body and implant it into her uterus, hoping it takes root in her uterus, and it does...then she miscarries. Or we can use every for of fertility treatment we have over and over but she never becomes pregnant. We can rush a mom back for an emergency c-section when her baby's heartrate plummets to dangerously low levels...and the baby doesn't survive. We have ventilators, machines, meds, surgery, etc. - all sorts of life saving measures that can help a 24 week baby survive outside it's mother's womb. Sometimes that baby grows into a healthy adult. Other times it has severe disabilities...or we are unable to sustain it's small body outside of it's mother's body. Again, another reminder: We are not in control. For all we try to do, we can't control everything. But we try.

But in these instances when we do all that we know how to do and still can't stop mother nature, we can still see the beauty and the wonder of something we have no control over. We see it through tears when a perfect 20 week baby is born into his parents arms much too prematurely to survive outside the womb. We see how perfectly that sperm and egg combined and divided to make such tiny fingers, toes, hair, fingernails, a beating heart. We are astounded it when fights, and lives for a couple minutes, sometimes hours. We can see it in the infant born with anomalies that will prevent it from living outside of the womb, and notice how perfect her eyes and nose are formed, how her skin is flawless and see that baby grasp it's parents fingers in it's few moments it has on this earth. At 12 weeks and even earlier, we can see on ultrasound the baby moving and taking in it's amniotic environment.

But thankfully, the majority of the time, a full term, mature baby is born healthy into the arms of his parents, not needing any intervention from us. We aren't in control. The baby develops, labor will ensue and a baby is born. Regardless of us. He cries, he nurses, he grows into an adult that someday may have a child of his own. From one egg and one sperm, a human is formed. Just an everyday miracle.


Carrie said...

This is such a great post and so very if only the rest of society could accept that...

Taking Heart said...

Some of the most weight lifting words an OB said to me was, "we can't save them all."

So much pressure. Even to read the latter part of your entry is exhausting... exhillerating... and debilitating.

We just cant save them all.

But... most of the time... we can... and I LOVE when a baby's birth is uneventful from our point of view... the parents experience a very "eventful" life of love with that child... often ignorant to the what ifs we cannot always plan for in our jobs.

Delivered a nine pound shoulder last noc... Pink and screaming! God had His hand on my own shoulder... and not a second goes by where I am not thankful for the lusty cry of a normal, healthy, pink, vigerous baby.

Emily said...

When I first saw my new daughter's perfect toes, fingers, fingernails!, eyelashes...on & on...I wondered how anyone could deny the existence of God. I don't mean to proselytize...I have serious gripes with organized religion & understand how people can turn their backs...but that moment of awe has stayed with me. And was repeated when my son was born.

Of course, next came the hard part: raising these miracles to become healthy functioning adults. And now I have to say I found that we are not in control there, either.