The other day, the last two appointments on my schedule were “unable to get pregnant, consult” and “pregnant, desires a termination.” Even my medical assistant commented about the timing of those last two patients. Although these are not unusual issues for patients to see me about, the fact I was seeing them back to back, haunted me all day. Why? Why did life deal them these cards? Did fate make a mistake and now, as if to tease them more, have them sit next to each other in my waiting room, anxiously awaiting what comes next? And why at my doorstep, challenging me to be in different mindsets, to support one that cannot get pregnant and one who can but doesn’t want the pregnancy, one right after another?
Life forming when it’s not wanted, when the timing isn’t right; and then not, when the timing is perfect and the desire is huge. Such mystery and awe in the formation of life. As much as we understand now as scientists, there is equally as much we don’t understand.
In the beginning, the sources of life approach each other in hopes of a blissful union, sometimes cells come together that aren’t normal, sometimes they come together and divide incorrectly, sometimes they just have a mind of their own and make something with no human likeness, and sometimes, they never collide at all. In the darkness, what forms clings onto the womb for dear life, sometimes it can hold on, sometimes it can’t endure and loses its grip, or sometimes it clings on in a way that will kill its host. The growing life that makes it this far then unfolds, quiet, unassuming, swaying in the warm fluid. Sometimes it becomes contorted and can’t unfold fully, sometimes it swims with blessed freedom, sometimes it never unfolds.
The time passes slowly, passes quickly, with sadness, with hope, with fear, with love. The growing life begins to form into a recognizable human creature. The limbs stretch out and become stronger to eventually help this being navigate a dry world instead of its current watery sanctuary. The inner organs grow and mature to make life in the breathing and eating world possible once the cord to its mother is severed. This life knows it can’t stay in its warm coccoon forever – some won’t accept this and will not survive the journey out, coming to the dry world without a heartbeat or breath. Some leave with great expectations and joy, excitedly screaming as they enter their new world. And some are so contorted, they must make the journey out a different way, requiring others to open a new door through their mother’s belly.
I think about all these complicated processes and how each step along the way can go wrong, how miraculous it is they ever all go right. I think about all the complicated expectations, disappointments, relationships that go into making life and how all this affects the processes too.
I take a moment before I enter the first room, knowing it is filled with disappointment of life not forming, all the while mindful that I will need to reset myself for the last room, which is filled with disappointment of the opposite.