As I contemplate the service I’ve received over the course of five pregnancies, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. Strangely, though, the experience that stands out most doesn’t involve a meal, babysitting, a ride to the doctor–you know, all those things I normally group under the “Compassionate Service” heading.
Following a blood clot in my brain at the age of 21, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder and told that it would affect my life in two ways: I would be on blood thinners the rest of my life, and I’d have problematic pregnancies. I was blessed to find a specialist whose area of research dealt with my disorder in pregnancy. He had an 80% success rate in treated pregnancies, so finally my husband and I said a prayer (okay, a lot of prayers) and took the plunge. (That sounded much dirtier than I intended. Sorry.)
My pregnancy was textbook normal. I had extra appointments (Apparently not every woman has an ultrasound at 7 weeks to confirm viability–who knew?) and injected myself with blood thinners twice a day, but things were going well. Having children was a righteous desire–a commandment, even–so why wouldn’t I have a baby?
I was 14 weeks pregnant, at a routine appointment with my specialist. He pulled out the doppler…no heartbeat. But I’m obese, and babies like to hide, so nobody was worried. Because of my high-risk profile, he sent me for an ultrasound “just to be safe.”
In retrospect, the ultrasound was unusual, but I’d only had the viability scan, so I didn’t realize that. After the first 5 minutes, the technician stopped talking. Ten minutes in, she excused herself to get a doctor. I will never forget that moment when the doctor took my hands in hers and said, “I’m so sorry. Your baby is dead.” It’s ten years after the fact, and typing that still makes me cry.
I called my best friend, who happened to be pregnant. Her due date was a week after mine. Shortly after I arrived home from the hospital, I heard a knock at my door. I opened it, and there stood Katie, a dozen roses clutched in her hands. I looked at her, she looked at me, and she promptly burst into tears. “I don’t even want to be pregnant any more!” she cried, and we both stood there in my doorway, hugging and crying.
The cards and kind words spoken during that time mean a lot to me, but aside from family members, Katie was the only one strong enough to cry with me. It is, to this day, the strongest manifestation of Christlike love I’ve ever experienced.
Mosiah 18:8-9 (that’s the Book of Mormon, for those of you who read my blog and don’t happen to be of the same religion as I) says, “…and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort…” (emphasis added)
I’ll never forget the day that Katie didn’t just comfort me–she mourned with me and, for a time, I felt a little less alone.