Thursday, February 7, 2013

some things are meant to be hidden

This morning we trekked to maternal-fetal medicine specialist. The reason: according to my midwife, the baby measured small, and was not lying head down and she did not like that I do not have a specialist managing my pregnancy-induced hypothyrodism. So I found myself sitting in a high-risk office and trying to figure out how did I get there.

In all my other pregnancies, I could clearly tell that the baby is head down and the feet kicking my intestines. This time around, it did not feel the same way. I kept feeling two bumps, lying across my belly. The midwife I am using agreed. Moreover, because of the way this baby is lying, it kept measuring small, even though my weight gain was fine, and there was nothing else to worry about.

So here we were, waiting for a detailed ultrasound to measure to baby and check that it is head down. The technician came in and did a very detailed scan. Thank G-d, the baby measured just where it is supposed to be, and it is head down. Everything else looked good, too, except for a possible duplication or splitting of one of the kidneys. The high-risk doctor reassured me that they are not even positive if it is doubled, but we might want to follow up after birth with additional ultrasound and maybe contrast injection, just to make sure that everything is fine.

While the good news were good, this whole experience left me thinking. The gemara says that we do not know the way of the baby in the womb, it is hidden from us. Today it might sound downright silly: we have technology! Doppler! Ultrasound! Genetic testing! Amniocentesis! Surely there are many ways to poke and prod and extract information. There seems very little that is hidden. Moreover, there seems even less reason to keep things hidden, especially since they can be known so easily.

I remember my first pregnancy, when I proudly announced to my grandmother over the phone that I am expecting. She, being in her late eighties, and never dealing with pregnancy tests, could not understand how I can be so sure so early on. I kept trying to tell her about the hormones, but she was not buying it. Well, a few babies later; a few spottings later, and a few miscarriage stories later, I think she was right. You can have a positive pregnancy test, but it might be more prudent not to rely on it too much. Historically women waited till they felt fetal movement to be sure that this is a viable pregnancy. The information gained by a pregnancy test is minuscule compared to the possibility of things not working out.

Same for the rest of the technology. With one of my kids, the ultrasound did not show a four-chambered heart, so I had to go back (everything was fine, except for a few weeks of anxiety). You can have a genetic screen and still miss a mutation.

With the other kids, we found out the genders. I was more ambivalent. My husband really wanted to know, so we found out. Both boys were due on Pesach, so it made sense to know whether to make a bris or not. This time around, I put my foot down and firmly decided to wait. Apparently, this not knowing is driving everyone crazy. The kids were jumping up and down, trying to figure out the gender today. All my reassurances that we will know within a month were falling on dead ears. How will this bit of information change anything? We have clothes for both genders, and they babies are impartial which color to spit up on...

Now we have a new piece of information to fret and worry about. Most likely this kidney thing is nothing. Most likely, it would have been fine being "hidden", and I would not have to subject the baby to yet another invasive test.

With my other kids, one had a funny heart murmur, and another hiatal hernia. With hiatal hernia, he was awful as a baby, constantly spitting up, not sleeping, not gaining weight, etc. I really wanted to know what was going on. My husband said: " Watch, we will get a name for this thing, but they will not do anything!" He was right: the hernia is supposed to resolve on its own and they do not follow up on it. Was the endoscopy on a few months' old baby worth getting the diagnosis which is just a fancy name for the misery?

Some things are in G-d's hands alone. Health is definitely one of them.

הַנִּסְתָּרֹת לַיהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵינוּ וְהַנִּגְלֹת לָנוּ וּלְבָנֵינוּ עַד-עוֹלָם לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת-כָּל-דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת:
The hidden things are for Hashem, and the revealed things are for us and for our children forever, to fulfill the words of this Torah ( Devarim, 29, 28).

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