Our final stop on our journey took us to Texas Children’s Hospital. We had a bit of time before our appointment, so we found a McDonalds for me to buy coffee (I was pretty tired by this point) and then walked to the trains. Travis had seen these one other day, back when Samantha was still in the ICU but was getting better. It was a Saturday and Allison, Mark, and the girls had come to visit, along with a couple from church. Travis, Mark, and Erich took the girls to see the trains. Lillian stayed with Micaiah in the waiting room, and Allison and I went to get coffee (yes, I like my caffeine!). This time I got coffee and saw the trains. They have a large model train setup with buttons you can push to start up different parts. It was really intricate and a fun distraction while we waited.
We headed to the research building, the location of our 3:30 appointment. We were meeting with Dr. Carol Baker, who is the lead researcher of the Group B Strep Vaccine (which we hope will be finished and distributed soon!) and also is the person who really started to research Group B Strep in the first place. Her work and that of many others has taken the mortality rate in babies who get an early-onset GBS infection from 1 in 5 to 1 in 20. It’s still too high, and the mortality rate in late-onset is unchanged. The hope is that a vaccine, given to pregnant women, will reduce or even eradicate this terrible disease.
Our conversation with her was fascinating. We learned a lot, including that if all goes well, the vaccine will be in use by 2017. That’s too late to do any good for our choices about having children, but at least our nieces will benefit from it when they want to have children, since the oldest of them is only 8.
The reason for our appointment was to present a check to her from the Group B Strep Association. Samantha’s memorial monies were designated to that charity. Part of the funds remained with the Association to help with their costs in getting the word out. The rest is sent to Dr. Baker to fund research. So we were sent a check to present to her. What a blessing to be able to meet her, that she is so close to where we live, and to personally hand the check to her.
When we left, she gave me a hug. I am so glad we went. At the same time, meeting with her and asking questions raised more doubts in me, as well as hopes. She believes that late-onset GBS, like what our Samantha caught, is contracted from the environment, not in utero. So as I think about having children in the future, it actually makes me think that maybe I could have another baby. Of course, on the flip side, it terrifies me to even consider bringing any newborn into our home, whether I give birth to it or we adopt. Yikes, to think about another baby getting this disease…
And while I could sit and worry about what we might have done wrong, I refuse to give in to Satan in that way. It is his desire that I worry. God has given me too much peace for me to sacrifice it now. I hold onto the knowledge that we did everything we could and nothing could have stopped this from happening. And I am also holding onto my original decision, to not make any decisions about having children or not until a year has passed. That July 10th deadline gives me a lot of comfort, knowing that waiting is the best possible decision for us right now.
Meanwhile, I am thankful for the day we had on Friday last week. It was such a gift, and was not nearly as painful as I was prepared for it to be. In many ways it was a day of healing. I know I can go to the hospital to visit someone if necessary without falling apart. Volunteering might just be a possibility. I may even be able to help others in some way.
Meanwhile, I’m still here, learning to live one day at a time. My memories of Samantha will always be with me, and I am so thankful for them. I may never understand fully why we’ve been through all of this, but I do know that God is working in me and through me every single day. I will keep leaning on Him.