“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future”.
— Lewis B. Smedes

I believe that with grief, anger is a natural companion. You are mad primarily at yourself, for not being able to control the situation. For not being able to stop what happened from happening. You also get mad at your God, or religious/spiritual connection. Why did it let this happen to you? And if you don’t have that type of background you may get mad at the doctors for not being able to stop or help or fix the problem. If you are like me, you get mad at everything and decide that the world sucks.

However, there are lessons to be learned from anger and grief. Sometimes, we have to learn things the hardest way imaginable. This includes learning through the loss of a child.

This week, after hearing originally from my doctor’s office that all of my blood work came back “normal” for everything they tested me for, we got a call back that things were not indeed ok. It turns out that the nurse transcribing my information into my file caught this little result and it raised a red flag (thank you to her!). I tested positive for a genetic mutation called MTHFR. For an explanation of what this is, I will turn to the professionals at pregnancy info.net (it basically summarizes the things the nurse told me):

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Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) is a rare genetic defect that can lead to complications in pregnancy. Many people do not know that they have this defective gene until after they have had several unsuccessful pregnancies. Others may carry one pregnancy to term and not discover until afterwards that they carry the defect.

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What is MTHFR?
Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) is the name of a gene that produces an enzyme, also called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. If a person carries the genetic mutation that inhibits production of this enzyme, it can result in hyperhomocytenemia, which is an elevated level of an enzyme called homocysteine found in blood plasma.

When the body is deficient in methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, its ability to absorb folate (also known as vitamin B9), such as folic acid, is inhibited. Folic acid and B9 are both essential to the development and health of the fetus.

MTHFR and Pregnancy
Because of a mother with MTHFR’s inability to efficiently metabolize folic acid and vitamin B9, the disorder has been linked to a variety of pregnancy complications such as chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome, and congenital malformations.

Elevated levels of homocysteine have been associated with placental disease, preeclampsia and recurrent pregnancy loss. 21% of women with high levels of homocysteine experience recurrent pregnancy loss.

Symptoms
Because MTHFR is a blood-based disease with many varieties, symptoms vary depending on the exact mutation of the disease. They can include:

 Detection
Blood testing is the most accurate way to screen for MTHFR. This is especially true if women have a history of complicated pregnancies, including recurrent pregnancy loss and/or stillbirths, or if they have given birth to a child with neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.

Treatment
Taking folic acid can help women with certain mutations of the disease. Folic acid can be found in eggs, dark leafy vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli, oranges and orange juice and legumes, such as peas and dried beans. Vitamin supplements also contain folic acid.

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So you may be wondering where that leaves us. Well, that is my question too at this point. The nurse made the situation sound very much like there is the possibility that I will not be able to carry a baby to term. (I don’t know if all medical professionals are trained to scare the hell out of you, but I seem to find the good ones). She also said that she isn’t the doctor though and I would need to speak to him for a  “clearer picture of my situation”. Thus we head to the doctors on Monday June 28th to find out what he has in store for us.  I may be one of the lucky ones who can take supplements and do ok, it all depends on what mutation of the disease is that I carry.

Now going back to my original thought about anger. Yes, I will admit that I was angry when I found out about this. I was angry at how I found out about it and I was mad that I was born with something that could have caused the death of Jack . But at the same time, there is a silver lining.

Without Jack coming to us and living his short life, we would never have known any of this. That is why I am forgiving life for all of this trauma. I cannot continue to hold on to rage when my child has potentially saved my life by bringing this condition to our attention. I could have had a blood clot form at anytime, it could have moved into my lungs and that could have been it for me. Or I could have had a stroke. Either way, now I can take care of myself to prevent these things from happening. And I can never thank my baby boy enough. He is truly my hero and every day he continues to be. And I have never really believed in guardian angels, but I can’t help but feel like he is looking out for his mommy and daddy.

Like the quote beneath the picture above says, we change the memory of our past into a hope for our future. It is my hope that I can live a healthy, happy life and maybe go on to be able to carry a baby again someday. And I owe it all to one incredible little boy.

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