How 1% Can Matter

So today is Valentine’s Day.  The day for celebrating the ones you love.  Needless to say, if you are grieving the loss of a precious loved one, especially a spouse or partner, this day is probably extra painful.  All the hearts everywhere and constant bombardment of ads reminding us to remember our loved ones today with some special gift really helps.

One thing that really struck me after I had my daughter was how incredibly different the significance of certain things can be depending on the circumstances you’re in.  For example, I never even used to notice the kids’ clothing section all that much in the department stores but after I had Jenna it was hard for me to walk through Sears without having all of those bright pink little girls’ clothes screaming out at me, tearing at my heart and reminding me of what I had lost.  Today I can make it through pretty much unscathed.

A much more significant example though occurred when I became pregnant with my son Dylan, 4 months after Jenna was born and died.  As I learned that I had a Chromosome translocation which caused Jenna to have Trisomy 13, we knew that there was a high risk of any other pregnancies having the same thing.  We knew we wanted to have prenatal testing and had the option of Amniocentesis or a newer procedure called CVS.  Not to bore you with the details, the difference was that CVS could be performed much earlier but there was a 1% risk of miscarriage vs. .5% with Amniocentesis.  Now we’re talking a .5% difference.  We’re also talking a 1 in 100 chance of anything happening at all.

I can’t tell you how much I agonized over that decision.  The social worker at the hospital should have won an award for how wonderful she was working with me.  She was so patient, understanding, supportive- she answered every question.  I felt at times so ridiculous making such a fuss over that 1% chance but having just lost our daughter- what if the baby was fine and we lost it because of the procedure?

Anyway, I think you get my point that in that instance, a 1% possibility seemed like an enormous risk to take.  It felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders during the days that I had to make that decision.  In hindsight, I think that if you told me I had a 1% chance of winning the lottery, I’d say those were terrible odds.  I wouldn’t waste my time.  That experience really opened my eyes to how relative everything is.

So on Valentine’s Day, if you’re happy and in love, you can’t wait to share candy and flowers, maybe a special dinner or maybe just a quiet evening with a beer, who knows.  If you’ve lost someone dear, you may wish that cupid would fall out of the sky and that Russell Stovers would go belly up.  That’s ok too.  Now I know that we can’t expect the rest of the world to stop celebrating everything because someone will find it difficult.  It’s just one of those many days that you just have to take a lot of deep breaths, allow yourself to feel whatever you feel and focus on doing something good for yourself.

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