Friday, February 8, 2013

Getting Here Part X: God But A Heartbeat Away

Perhaps the direction of my life in the first half of the 1970s was reflected in my changing look. At the beginning of that decade I had a certain fresh-face look. My hair was trimmed from what it was in our Hippie phase

As I slipped further into a life of pleasure-seeking and anger at those who criticized such living my look darkened. I let my hair grow out again and also stopped shaving.

By 1974 I appeared quite the anarchist.  I was also now in even another job and we had made two more changes of address. Since leaving ARCo in May 1969 I had worked for Philadelphia Gum as a bubblegum welder, North American Publishing Company as circulation manager, Lincoln bank as Operations Accounting Supervisor and Olson Brothers as Office Manager and Cost Accountant.  Now I was a year with Welded Tube Company of America as Assistant Controller.

We had given up our apartment in Aldan because Olson Brothers was planning to relocate in New Jersey. We moved to the Cherry Hill Towers to be closer to the new factory, but then Olson's folded operations instead and I found a new job and we moved to Chalet at Ski Mountain, on the edge of Pine Hill and near Clementon, NJ.

We continued our friendship with the couple from Aldan and so there was little change in our lifestyle. However we ended the visits with the other couple because Lois was suspecting they were hinting we do engage in wife-swapping. Also in those years we lost two more babies in the early months of pregnancy. Lois was having more pronounced periods of depression. I was urging her to have her tubes tied before her health suffered.

We traveled a lot, went to concerts a lot, drank a lot and engaged in risky sexual behavior. Then in 1975 on one of our vacation trips I noticed she was getting sick in the mornings. She finally told me she was pregnant again, number seven.

The doctor was dubious, but did his best. I don't think he performed a Shirodkar procedure again, but can't remember for certain. Lois did have this procedure performed previously because it was determined she had an incompetent cervix, but it proved unsuccessful and that baby was lost. Nonetheless, things were looking okay this time. She made it through the fourth month and was well into the fifth, but then it happened. She told me she felt she was going to lose it and I took her to the hospital.

They put her in a labor room and hooked up an IV drip. They hoped to retard the labor and give the baby time to develop further. She was alone in this room for nearly a week. Every day after work I came and sat with her.

On a table near her bed there was a monitor. It recorded the babies heartbeat. Do you know when a heartbeat is first detectable? In the fourth week of the fetus the heart can be heard. At that point the brain is forming its five sections and all the vital organs have formed. The baby is a human from the moment of fertilization, which is the point when it has all the DNA to determine its makeup and from conception the sex of the baby is known. From that point it is dividing and developing and two weeks after that it has a face.

Much of the time spent in that room there was silence, but not completely. There was the sound of the baby's heartbeat all the time. It sounded strong. It sounded like someone who was fighting very hard to live. 

Near the end of that week the doctors had to allow the labor to proceed and a baby girl was born doomed to die. We would have named her Amy. 

I was sent to a waiting room while that delivery and death took place. I sat in the waiting room and somehow I could still hear that beating heart. I know it is hard for some to understand, but every beat I imagined told me there was a God. Hearing that baby struggling to live made me understand that life could not have been just a chance accident. I didn't know exactly what God was, but I could not do anything at that moment but believe in a creator. 

When we went home, once again just the two of us, it was with a feeling of great emptiness. My wife was as low as I ever saw her. She didn't want to get out of bed. She was crying. She talked of suicide.
I did not know what to do. 

I found myself making a suggestion I never thought I'd make. It would change my life.

To be continued...

The last picture is a fetus at 15 weeks.

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