When You Win the Wrong Lottery

When You Win the Wrong Lottery November 16, 2011

It’s been an eventful week for my friends…and a bit of a rough one for me.

It was precipitated by the happy fact that a few weeks ago, Elijah started sleeping through the night, thereby ending our sweet, middle-of-the-night interludes. He’s growing up too fast.

Then, last Monday, Paul ran his hand over my belly, and like a shock wave it hit me that we won’t ever again get to feel a tiny growing baby dancing inside me.

Then, stupid Betty Draper didn’t want to be pregnant with her third baby.

Then, three friends had their second or third babies.

Then, a few more friends posted magnificent announcement photos of their brand new baby bellies, or new pictures of their ever-expanding, almost-ready-to-pop bellies.

And then, just for good measure, one more had her second baby.

Sometimes, it seems, the mountain literally crumbles when you’re already in the valley.

So, like a emotional champ, I skipped over to Google and typed in “emergency hysterectomy.”

(I’ve done this before. It rarely ends well.)

I read scattered findings – because there are no major, concrete studies that tell us anything conclusively about why or how many women’s childbearing days end this way – and came across one teaching hospital’s study at which 22 out of 110,000 women had emergency hysterectomies over a ten year period, all due to similar complications but otherwise for no discernible reason.

After wading through thickets of anger, regret, and crossing the inevitable “What if it was my fault? What if I had just waited for Eli to come on his own, instead of inducing labor and starting this ball rolling…?” river, I reported these findings to a dear friend who shared my experience. And her response was, “When you do the statistics it sucks – 1 out of 30,000 or something – really couldn’t I win a really good raffle? Or the lotto?”

It sounds funny, but it’s a healthy reality check too: This can’t possibly be my – or anyone else’s – fault, ’cause massive postpartum hemorrhaging leading to near-death and the consequential life-saving emergency hysterectomy is, as Marilyn pointed out, about as likely as winning the lottery.

That to say, there’s no point in wondering where blame lies, because it doesn’t. This kind of thing just doesn’t happen…at least, not to more than a couple dozen in one-hundred-and-ten-THOUSAND women. When it does happen, it’s a classic fluke. The terrifying exception to an otherwise predictable rule.

So…where do I go from here? What do I say, and how am I to feel, when part of me is truly rejoicing with my friends for their healthy new babies and perfectly normal wombs, and the other part is screaming “WHY!?!”

I mean, where does the 30-year-old widow turn when her friends are celebrating one anniversary after another while she grieves another year without her husband? Where does the almost-mother turn when others are celebrating birth after birth while she grieves the loss of her stillborn daughter?

To where does anyone turn when the most senseless devastation befalls her, and there simply are no answers for the questions burning the last shreds of her faith?

To Hope.

To the One who is so intimately acquainted with grief and sorrow that He knows the best – and only – thing to do is invoke the all-knowing groans of the Spirit who so perfectly and adequately pleads the Father’s mercy on our behalf.

To the peace that lies solely in the bittersweet company of the Knowing few, who can grieve together.

To the Comforter who promises that all will be made right, in the end.

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