We'd been in Beijing all of a month or so, and I hated those taxis with a passion. Every time I got in one, which was often, because our car hadn't arrived, I felt sick. Not just a little carsick, but full-on nauseous, almost as if I was...
So I rode my new red bicycle up to the clinic and bought a pregnancy test. Which was positive.
I was not happy. After all, hadn't we just given all of the baby things away before we moved? And hadn't the last OB told me forcefully not to risk having more kids? And wasn't our family complete?
When I told Bart the news, he sat down, rather heavily, and sort of half laughed. We sat there, shocked, trying to figure out what this was going to mean for us. A baby. A fourth baby. In China.
And then, about two weeks later, I went deaf. If you've been reading for awhile, you know the story.
I was so very sick. My ear was buzzing and my head was spinning and if I so much as moved my eyeballs, I got violently ill. When I went to the clinic, they couldn't figure out what was wrong. But I warned them, as they tried to figure out what medicines they could give me, that I was pregnant. The nurse asked me bluntly if I'd thought about aborting. "China is not such a good place to raise babies," she said, "and now, with this..."
I told her that wasn't on the table. So they sent me home with some mild anti-nausea meds, which didn't help.
Eventually they put me on a plane to Hong Kong in the hope that an ENT there might be able to determine what had happened to my ear. The diagnosis: Sudden Deafness Syndrome. The oral steroid treatment only had a slight chance of working, and they didn't think they could administer it to a pregnant woman. My other choice, steroid shots directly to my eardrum, had even less of a chance of working, but could be done to a pregnant woman. So I had to choose, right there in the ENT office, with my husband in another country, because time was working against me if I ever hoped to regain my hearing. Did I want the one treatment, or the other? In other words, the way I heard it, was I choosing myself over this still-first-trimester baby?
And it hit me full-force, this clarity of purpose. This was my baby. I had no idea why God chose to send a fourth one my way, when I was so clearly overwhelmed with the three I already had, but there it is. I'd been chosen, and I was going to protect this baby even if it meant I had to lie still while some doctor stuck a needle full of steroids directly into my eardrum. Four times they did that. And it didn't work. I left Hong Kong still pregnant, and still deaf.
I'm still deaf in that ear, you know, and I've never been given a satisfactory answer as to why, exactly, it happened. But I'm not pregnant any more. Three years ago, in a hospital in Beijing, Ainsley kicked her way into this world. I loved her before she ever arrived. Long before she arrived, when I sat in that hotel room in Hong Kong feeling oh-so-sorry for myself, I already loved her. I knew even then that I'd move heaven and earth to keep her safe.
Here it is, three years later, and I can't imagine life without her.