It has been quite a 48 hours in the extended family!
To start with the simple, positive news, my brother-in-law landed in Australia from Afghanistan this morning. Thank you God! This is a very big relief. He has also been awarded the American Bronze Star Medal for his work there, so well done to him.
Then there is the baby (that my other sister is carrying). On Tuesday night I was trying to prepare the bible study for my group for Wednesday night (because our regular leader couldn't do so), and then my Mum calls. My sister had been back to her obstetrician that day, who had a report from the ultrasound on the baby’s heart, which lead him to tell her, in view of what was presented, that the baby probably had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. Only I think Mum left the “probably” out of her report to me, so I thought the baby definitely had this. HLHS is a very serious congenital heart defect, that requires a complicated series of surgeries beginning straight after birth (called "palliative surgery", because it doesn't cure the condition) or the baby dies. And even though my sister's Christian obstetrician had been very positive up until, he was grim this day.
Being the self-designated family research assistant, I couldn’t help then googling all manner of things on this syndrome. I worked from home yesterday (Wednesday), which is just as well, because after reading stories of babies born with this condition I was a weeping mess (reading stories of babies fighting for their life on internet was never going to be a pick-me-up). There are some who survive all three surgeries and do well, and Melbourne is the place to be in Australia for this problem, and there are continuing improvements, so it wasn't hopeless. But then there are all the babies whose little hearts are too messed up for surgery, or who don’t survive the surgery, and so they die. I think we all cried Tuesday night, and everybody did a lot of praying. Mum told me my sister wasn't up to talking to people that night, but did say she had to have another scan on the Wednesday.
So my sister did have to go back for another scan yesterday. Then early in the afternoon I get a text, to the effect that the cardiologist who did this scan was not convinced there was even a hole in the heart and that while he could see a possible narrowing of the aorta, it didn’t appear to him to be affecting the size of the chambers (whereas if a baby has HLHS there is a big difference in the size of the chambers, to the point that they say of such kids that they have “half a heart”). So, this was quite amazing. My Mum even said to me on the phone on Tuesday night “so unless there is a miracle between now and tomorrow ...”. I’m one of those people who would probably be in the sceptics camp, who is reluctant to claim divine intervention in the ordinary course of things, but this is now the second time my sister has received a terrible diagnosis (last time it was stage 4 ovarian cancer), then we all start praying, then she has another scan and the medical professionals have changed their mind ... Make of that what you will.
Meanwhile, I found some more little shoes in Vinnies (they look like they've not been worn). I'm going to make this baby a little hipster!
(Consequently I didn’t turn on the TV and watch The Bible on Tuesday night, with every other Christian I know on social media, but I am hoping I can manage to see it some other way.)