I am an O- mom entering the last ten weeks of pregnancy, so it is time for my beloved Rhogam shot. For those of you who are not Rh negative, you may not be familiar with the risk associated with delivering Rh+ babies. Essentially my body is full of antibodies developed to combat any baby born with Rh+ blood. Enter Rhogam. This miraculous drug, developed just 40 years ago, is injected into my large pregnant gluteus maximus before each new baby is delivered and then again within 72 hours post-birth with an Rh+ baby. It saves these babies. They would otherwise be susceptible to brain damage, organ failure or even death.
Receiving this shot prompted me to reflect on the blood types of our three children – the first is always safe because your body has not yet generated the dangerous antibodies, but our eldest emerged O+, so my body produced the antibodies then. Number 2 is O-, so he was safe. But Number 3! He is O+ and very well might not have been born healthily without Rhogam’s protection. If I were a woman in the developing world, or a woman without healthcare coverage, this little boy could have died. He is an articulate 2-year-old with massive brown eyes and silky hair who looks and acts like his father and holds my heart in the palm of his hand.. alive because of our blessed circumstances.
Then, I found precious free time to read a National Geographic article on Brazil’s shrinking family size. This article is part of a series that the magazine is running in “honor?”/ “terror” of the milestone of Earth’s population reaching 7 billion. The author maintained a fairly neutral position on small versus large family size, but she made it very clear that Brazil’s ability to lower its national birth rate from 4.2 to 1.9 (below replacement value — cheer!) in just 40 years is viewed as a success by demographers worldwide. 1.9, hmm, 1.9 I kept thinking.. that number also would have eliminated my precious clay-faced Number 3. If I were a statistically average woman in Brazil, I never would have birthed this little guy. The article profiled woman after woman who proudly touted her tubal ligation at age 24 as a real liberation from the difficulties associated with raising more than one or two children. It was explained that two is viewed as socially acceptable only if there is one of each gender. But us!? We had that desired couple. One girl, one boy, and we went for it. We received the most precocious, big-brother-loving toddler I have ever encountered. How dare these “promising statistics” dissuade any woman from meeting her amazing third child. OK, so maybe I was taking this a bit personally, but I am an emotional pregnant woman treasuring the final months of this little guy being the baby.
Really, as my husband and I have continued to live this exhiliratingly terrifying journey of being open to life I am grateful for the gift of each new soul under our roof. I am grateful for the sledgehammers over the head like Rhogam shots and self-centered Brazilian woman for refocusing me on what a precious gift from God each of our children is.