Lisa and I spoke after she was done with sonogram appointment. She told me that there was an unusual reading and that she had to stay to see the doctor. She waited and waited and waited and eventually had to leave to go back to work. On her way home the doctor called her and said that she’d have to make another appointment.
An email from my mother-in-law; call Lisa. I returned to my office where we have a State Department phone that can call home clearer than any other method on the FOB. I found her on her cell. The doctor called Lisa at home. On a Saturday. As she recounted the conversation I asked her to tell me everything he had said. The baby is too small; too small by about four weeks. Lisa’s amniotic fluid is low. There need to be tests; as soon as possible. She is going Monday with a friend.
There was a lot the doctor didn’t say. He didn’t say anything about how this was going to be okay in the end.
I call my brother and give him the message.
A fitful night had me agitated all day today. I can feel the anxiety in me building. I know I will have to go home. I tell some of my officers so that I can leave them in charge in case I need to go quickly. Following an evening meeting I meet with the Chaplain. We talk and pray and he reminds me that hope is okay. I talk to God on my walk home.
I can feel the muscles tense in my back and neck. I run for miles out along the perimeter. Usually it clears my head and allows me to think. Today it doesn’t. I return from my run to the compound. I stretch and notice a coin buried in the dirt. I pick it up and it has two hands in prayer on the front. On the back it says, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” I call Lisa on the satellite phone later in the evening. She is in the doctor’s room waiting and I need to call back. There is nervous apprehension in her voice as she describes the high definition ultrasound she had done. I tell her that I’ll call back soon. Twenty minutes later I call. Her friend answers. Lisa is talking to the doctor. She puts me on. The connection is static and garbled in space but I hear her crying. It’s not good.
Lisa put me on speaker phone. The doctor tells me that the placenta is detaching from the uterus and the baby is not getting enough nutrients or oxygen. The baby is only 350 grams and should be 500 grams. I hear what she is saying but I need to ask her what it means, although I already know. I ask her how these situations usually end up. “Not well,” is the answer. I go numb. I can’t hear and tell Lisa I need to back to the office to call her from the State phone.
Ten minutes later she is more composed. She is being put on bed rest for two weeks to see what happens. We discuss options. We discuss when I should come home. I tell her about the coin. Everything else blurs.
I skype with Lisa in the morning. I haven’t slept much. We talk. I am reminded that this woman is an amazing source of my strength and I hers. I love her beyond description, although I still try as often as I can. Together we try to find some peace and prepare for the hard road ahead. At work I make the arrangements to go home when the time calls for it. I am 8,000 miles and three days of solid travel from home.
I see the doctor who gives me Tylenol PM to help me sleep. I sleep for nine hours.
We have slowly been telling family and friends. This is as much to share the burden than anything else. It amazingly opens up other people to tell me their story of when they lost a child. Their stories give me perspective and remind me that I am not alone. Lisa and I speak twice a day. My days are filled with work. It’s the only thing to divert my mind. It’s hard to imagine what is going to happen. I know things are hard now and will likely get much harder before it gets better.
Lisa and I will have to make choices between things we can changes and accept the things we can’t. I take the coin out and pray for the wisdom to know the difference.