Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Approaching Crossroads

I'm fifteen weeks pregnant today, and I've been feeling this little one flutter and kick for about a week now already. Of course it is faint, but this is certainly earlier than I've felt movement for any of my other pregnancies. If I had to place my bets, I would bet that this one is a boy, and that he's going to be a pretty good match for his big brother Toby.

Of course we won't know until the 20 week ultrasound, which is scheduled for July 19th. As the date moves closer I feel the same mix of excitement and apprehension that I felt before my ultrasound with Toby. So much is revealed at that appointment. It is like peering into the crystal ball and suddenly gaining visions of the future. In one word, "girl" or "boy," the future suddenly clarifies with pink dresses and fairy tales, or blue baseball caps and toy tractors. This is the moment so many parents can't wait for.

But for us, three out of four ultrasounds have revealed far scarier visions of the future. The most dreaded words, "echogenic kidneys" gave us a foggy glimpse of the endless blood draws, doctors appointments, strange neurological symptoms, and searching for answers we have lived out so far. And those words gesture to the hazy future still before us, filled with shadowy specters of racing to the hospital while a daughter vomits blood, months on dialysis while we search for a kidney donor, transplants, anti-rejection therapies, and early death.

At Toby's ultrasound my apprehension proved founded when the technician couldn't find his right kidney, and the fear that welled-up in me completely eclipsed what should have been a joyful moment: the announcement of our first son. So, as much as I long to know whether Toby's newest sibling will share his love of power tools or encourage his fetish with girls' shoes, I grow nervous as that date approaches. Not exceedingly so, I'm not much of a worrier by nature. I have repeatedly laid my children's lives and health in the hands of their creator, and I am at peace now with whatever he chooses to do with their lives. It is just that in that moment we stand at the divide between the sun-filled path of normal childhood, long-life, and grandchildren to come; and the shadowy, brier-lined path of disease. We are willing to hold the hand of our guide and travel either, but the heart does begin to pound as we strain to see which path he is stepping out on.

We'll reach that fork in the road in just under five weeks, and we'll walk that path when we come to it.

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