Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Christmas Story This Year

I found out some things from friends last week that brought up a lot of emotions in me that I really can't talk about and, because these aren't my stories, they aren't ones that I have the right to tell, even if I could tell them adequately.
So, instead, a story that I can tell.

I got a billing a week or two ago from the hospital for just shy of a grand. Now, thankfully, from my experience with Roslyn I knew that this bill will be mostly absorbed by insurance and that my remainder portion will be minuscule.
You see, I'm an A- blood type, which means I am Rh negative. The hospital charge was for my RhoGham shot.
If all of this sounds very foreign to you, I suggest you start with Wikipedia, and then maybe try the Mayo Clinic for a little more information. But, it essentially means that, unless I am given me-specific antigens, my body will try to destroy my babies.
It rarely affects first pregnancies, but you have to have the injection every time, every pregnancy as a just in case factor so your body doesn't develop the desire to attack any other blood type in your body.
When I got ready to go in for my shot, I found myself discussing it at work in a rather blase fashion. After all, I had done this before. But what I got this time were the stories. My director had had a sister who died within several days of birth; another co-worker, her mother had lost pregnancies and had given birth to what was known as a "blue baby" and had low-weight babies.
This got me to thinking about my own maternal grandmother. She was an Iowa Farm wife and, I think like most couples starting out in that time and in that place, she and my Grandfather, I am sure, had wanted a whole gaggle. But after my Uncle Larry was born, they would not have another baby that survived infancy until my mother, born in a home birth pre-mature and with underdeveloped lungs, 9 years later.
I had known all my life that my grandmother had had many miscarriages and had carried one baby to a live birth, only to have him succumb to death within days (his grave is next to my grandparents). To know my grandmother, this was part of her story and part of her sadness. She loved her children and grandchildren, but I think some part of her may have always been with those lost babies.
I realized as I listened to stories from my friends that my grandmother may have been Rh-, too, before anyone had any idea what that meant. I came to understand that I am being spared the grief that must have defined much of her child-bearing years, and maybe beyond.
My grandmother has been gone for over 5 years now, so trying to find out her blood type is a logistical difficulty, and it's not important for the story. The fact is, I realized that if I had to pay the whole bill for the shot (and there will be another one after the baby is born unless we end up with the rather unlikely possibility that the baby is A-, too), I would do it in a heartbeat.

In this time of Advent, in waiting for the Christ, I listen to the relative silence, knowing that in just a few short weeks, that silence will be irrevocably punctured by another life that moves within me with great gusto, subtly assuring me that I should sleep now.
I don't know what I have done to live in this time and in this place and be given these blessings, I am fairly certain that I am not worthy of any of it, but I can feel God's Grace streaming down over me like the snow and I am grateful.

The stories of others around me make me leary of wishing joy this year for Christmas, so I will wish you Peace, instead.
May you find the Peace that surpasses Understanding and has always been a comfort to those in exile. Merry Christmas.