About a month ago, I saw a show on TLC about bizarre, harrowing pregnancies. Don't ask why I watch those, 'cause I don't know. Morbid curiosity and a need to convince myself that I am not, actually, the most creative when it comes to new ways to lose a kid are the two front runner explanations, though.
Anyway, this show was about ectopic pregnancy. When I read the synopsis on the guide, I though, "Ectopic? How is that weird or unusual? You have an ectopic, they either catch it or they don't, which means you could have an interesting trip to the E.R., but either way, it ends up with no baby." I know, this is way oversimplifying, but I still couldn't see how they would get a whole hour-long show out of something that is, unfortunately, so very common.
But they did. It seems that some women have ectopic pregnancies that implant in the abdominal cavity, well outside the confines of the uterus. And, on even more rare occasions, these pregnancies can sometimes establish enough of a blood supply to develop a relatively functional placenta. They told the story of a middle-eastern woman who, over forty-five years ago, had been pregnant with a baby who, in her words, "went to sleep". She'd gone into labor, but after three days of horrific pain, no baby ever came.
Then, nearly a half-century later, doctors discovered that the mass she'd carried in her belly ever since was this same child. Ordinarily, the woman would have died from the toxins released by the baby when it died. But in her case, the body managed to seal the baby in layer upon layer of calcium. Calcification, the doctor explained, is a very common response from our bodies when they encounter something foreign.
The doctors operated - a task that was, in itself, fraught with risk - and finally freed the baby from its mother. Born, finally, nearly fifty years later. You could see that it was a baby. A baby that was turned to stone as its mother's body sought to protect her.
I thought it was a powerful metaphor: the body coating over something harmful in layers of protective material, hardening the harmful something into a stone, never actually destroying it, but glossing over it until it was a mere representation of the original object.
I think we all do this emotionally, as well as physically. Sometimes pain is simply too large and threatening to be processed. It has to be sealed off. Not destroyed - not forgotten - but fundamentally changed. Transmuted into something tolerable until such time as our mind and our spirit can address it.
And because of this, I was not so surprised when Dr. Smooth pointed to some bright white spots during my ultrasound. "It looks like we have some calcification," he said.
Damn straight, I've got some calcification. And I count myself lucky that it's nothing more than a few bright glittering spots on an ultrasound screen. In less than two weeks he'll go in and attempt to remove those threatening scars and stony nodules from my uterus.
As for the other calcifications - the spiritual ones - well, they'll just have to stay put. Reminders of scars to deep to heal completely.