Saturday, 25 April 2009

The Biggest News of All

If you know anything about malaria, the question may have entered your mind at some stage - why was Kelly so sick, why the evacuation and the ban on returning to Solomon Islands? Yes, I was sicker than most people, and no, you wouldn't normally get evacuated to be treated for malaria. The reason was that I wasn't the only one with malaria. We found out, about a week before I got sick, that we were having a baby. We guessed it was pretty early days, and so he/she was nicknamed "Ziggy" (the zygote - google it if you haven't done biology!).

As I have learned, pregnancy depresses your immune system, meaning that illnesses are more severe than they otherwise would be. Malaria carries extra risks for the fetus as well: an increased risk of miscarriage, problems with the placenta, risk of poor growth and premature delivery. I have done enough work with infants to know that having a fever while pregnant is not a good thing for the baby. And boy did I have a fever....

I don't normally talk about God in these posts, because I suppose people have so many wrong ideas about Him that I don't want to word something clumsily and put them off more. But I can't leave Him out of this, because I believe with everything that He is responsible for getting us and Ziggy this far. So sorry if you're offended by the following talk of supernatural things, but our lives have not taken these turns so far because of "the natural order of things". So it is with this part. As we know, a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing: I have seen a lot of neurologically messed-up babies and kids through my work, and know that it is important to be healthy during pregnancy. So as I was getting sicker, and was convinced that something really was very wrong, naturally I was extremely concerned for whatever might be happening to this little guy, whose life had barely begun. My own inclination is to worry myself silly, and to think of all the catastrophic implications that this illness would be sure to have: miscarriage, severe disability, a lifetime of grief, struggle and hospital admissions, the works. But oddly enough, even in the midst of a pretty scary time, I had complete reassurance that this baby would be okay, and I didn't have to worry. That, of course, goes against everything my head knows, yet it is something I've learned to trust.

Maybe it is the wrong time to be telling this story, maybe I should have waited ten years until we had this child I could hold up and show you was completely healthy, completely normal. But everything we have heard and seen along the way has supported this seemingly irrational knowledge that this baby is okay: the early scan in Brisbane showed that everything looked well, we made it past the crucial 12 weeks without any hint of a problem, the obstetrician said I was sick too early on for the malaria to have affected the placenta and thus Ziggy's growth, the baby has been kicking like a pro-footballer since 16-and-a-bit weeks, the 20 week scan was beautiful and showed appropriate growth....

I can't tell you exactly what the future holds for Steve and Ziggy and me, but we're excited to be safely home together, all three of us, and the size of my 24-and-a-bit-week belly says things are growing well. After such a rough start to our little bubby's life, it is good to be excited about the future, and to be feeling well as we prepare for his (or her) arrival in mid-September.


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