Recently I had something of an epiphany. Some of my friends are religious, some are not. Lee and I aren't particularly religious, but I think it's fair to say that I am more spiritual and faith-interested than he is. When we were expecting Connor, I wanted to join a church so we could have him baptized. Long story short - we joined a church, a Lutheran church where we liked the pastor.
Now see, in my family, baptism was an early-in-life event. We have a baptismal gown that came from my side, and I wanted my son to wear it, which required a certain timeline to be established. We picked a day that worked for the church about 6 weeks after Connor's birth, ensuring he would still fit the gown. We made all the arrangements. Family, godparents, friends joined us at the regular service and he was baptized. At the end of the service, he was paraded up and down in the arms of the pastor to be greeted into the church, which I liked very much. Afterwards, almost every person in the church came over and touched him, greeted us, etc.
EVERYONE TOUCHED HIM. And a few days after all those people touched him, he developed a fever, his first.
I called the pediatrician's office, and they scheduled us to come in that evening. The senior member of the practice saw us and checked him out, and he said, "Anything else?" I thought about it, and then said, "You know...he did this really weird thing a few days ago..." and proceeded to describe a seizure to the doctor. He thought for a moment, then said, "You know, that's not normal. I think I'll ask them to do an EEG while you are at the hospital." We had assumed they would tell us to go home and give him baby Tylenol, so I was surprised that we were headed to the ER instead. Babies that young they don't mess around. They sent him to the ER to ensure he didn't have meningitis. So off we went, spent several days at the hospital, but never managed that EEG. We had to go back, about 4 weeks later, for that appointment. In those 4 weeks, Connor changed dramatically and was mostly unresponsive to us. The test only confirmed what was essentially known in our hearts.
And I was so mad at that first visit to the hospital. What was wrong with me? Why had I let all those people touch him? Breathe on him? I hadn't protected him; I had let him down.
Now almost 12 years in the future, I realize that his baptism extended his life enormously. What if he hadn't gotten sick then, and the doctor hadn't thrown in that open-ended...anything else? Had we not intervened so early in his life, the likelihood that his body would have been so consumed with the seizures that their initial expectations of less than one year would have been most likely to be correct.
Having Connor baptized there kept him with us. And I have forgiven myself for letting everyone touch him. I would gladly spend another 4 days in the hospital in exchange for the extra days I had to spend with him.
But I still waited until Drew and Tucker were 6 months old (or more) before having them baptized. I'm sad that they couldn't wear the family gown, but that sadness is outweighed by their good health.