I honestly don't know where my fingers and feelings are going to lead this blog post, but I was prayerful before beginning it in hopes that whatever is shared is for the glory of God.
I know a lot of my reasoning for writing this is to simply remember what good came from such pain over these past two months--what learning, growing and grieving took place. I can't hold back what incredible good has come from something so outwardly difficult.
So rewind about 6 weeks ago when we found out the gender of our baby. The night before we went into our appointment, Jordan had bought and created a box that he wrapped and prepared for our parents to open and find out the gender of their grandchild with either a pink or blue balloon that would rise out of it. We loved that we were able to share the news in person with both of our parents, as we were headed to Artesia right after my appointment.
God had other plans.
We woke up feeling like it was Christmas that morning and showed up early to our appointment for the sonographer to ask "do you want to find out the gender?" within the first minute of the ultrasound probe on my stomach. It didn't take but a few seconds for her to tell us, "it's a BOY!".
We were so excited; we truly felt it all along--I mean, wives-tales say that if you crave salty over sweet and aren't sick, it's a boy. Proved right for me! ;-)
But then she kept going. She began to measure the size of our baby boy's head, heart, kidneys and more that Jordan could explain in depth with his nursing knowledge. My heart began to sink a little as I could tell she became less talkative and more focused on what she was looking for. It quickly became obvious that she was seeing things that concerned her. The inner mom in me quickly began to worry. The calm Jordan in our relationship quickly soothed me as we waited in the waiting room to see our doctor and hear the results.
We were called back into a private room, and our doctor walked in to explain that she would go over the results of the ultrasound. She firmly, yet as gently as she could, explained that there was a cyst found in his brain but that this could simply be benign or go away on its own. Not to worry. She then continued to share that he seemed to have echogenic bowel, or his intestines appeared bright and white on the ultrasound screen. And furthermore, they noticed a spot in his heart. She explained again that these alone would not affect our baby and could resolve themselves. However, she went on to explain that these are 3 "soft markers", which together can point to a trisomy genetic disorder such as Trisomy 13, 21 (Down Syndrome) or 18.
Typically, there isn't much to worry about if your baby has one of these 'soft markers', or maybe even two. But our little boy had three, and that was enough of a reason to give our obstetrician serious concern.
We wrapped our minds around this as she offered a genetic test which we had declined earlier on, because...we're young and healthy. Right? The odds were in our favor...right?
That's what she said.
As thoughts rushed my mind, and I fought tears back, she reminded us that if testing did come back with something we did not want, we legally were able to abort our baby before 22 weeks. I was 18.
Shocked. Yet again.
"No." We thought and Jordan verbally expressed, which she respected. This was our baby that we had fallen in love with since I surprised Jordan with the news in our living room. This was our baby who I was starting to think I was feeling move around in my tummy. Our baby who we would cry with joy over regardless of his diagnosis when the nurse puts him on my chest after I deliver. Our baby.
It was at this moment that our worlds shifted, and we wept, waited patiently for results and spent the next two weeks in the sweet arms and prayers of close friends and family.
I'm sharing this, because God is good.
We ended up spending the day at home together calling close friends and family, crying with them, asking for prayers and being...together. And I don't want you to mistake this grieving for sadness of a baby with Down Syndrome. I know full well after working with many people with Down Syndrome over the past several years in speech pathology that they are the most precious, gentle, encouraging and joyful beings. There would be smiles and laughter again one day, regardless. No, we were grieving the desires and dreams that we had already envisioned our baby boy being and doing. Our hopes and our expectations. We grieved these and the many other thoughts that rushed to our minds as we wrapped our minds around the possibility as we waited for the test results.
But God is good. He took what felt like the most difficult, painful situation into something that I am now able to thank Him for and see all the good.
How Good He Really Is
1. He immediately softened both Jordan and my heart and brought us together in such an intimate way. I have never wept with Jordan, and after this appointment, we did. And it healed, bonded and felt good.
2. He taught us how to communicate with one another. Over the next couple of days, I found myself crying out of nowhere, and Jordan was so good to always be quick to softly ask, "what are you thinking about, baby?" Having a counselor as a best friend, I feel like we were very healthy throughout this whole process (thank you Meg), and I was able to simply answer and talk through the thoughts flooding my mind. I knew it was better to never hold back my thoughts or feelings. In this situation, I learned that sharing is truly healing. So very truly.
3. He taught us how to empathize. Having friends and family simply just say, "I don't know what to say right now, but I am here" was medicine. They cried with us and empathized, and it was perfect. I had never quite understood this until then. We didn't need wisdom; we needed empathy and tears. I learned this firsthand.
4. He drew us closer to friends. Two days after we found out the news, we were in Las Cruces shooting a friend's wedding and having a reunion with so many people we went to college with. At first, I was so nervous about this, but God knew better. Of course, he orchestrated times for us to share what we were going through and ask for prayer. This intimately bonded us together with so many sweet friends of ours that we were reminded we had.
5. He provided us energy. Having two weddings and several sessions schedule during my 2 weeks in New Mexico, I quite simply didn't know how I was going to be able to do it. But He quickly reminded me that this job I do is a gift. The best medicine for me was to use this gift and serve others. As soon as I had clients in front of my camera it was like medicine to my wound. I needed it, and God knew this. Feeling Him provide this for me when my flesh simply couldn't was just incredible.
6. It brought awareness to the topic of abortion, specifically with babies who are diagnosed with a Trisomy in the womb. We learned that with the genetic testing we had done, false positives are a serious possibility. And to make things worse, 92% of babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome in the womb are aborted. I can't say that I don't understand how women feel when they get this diagnosis, because I do. I understand the fear and questions that come from this and why this option seems tempting or obvious to some. And I wish that I could comfort you in that situation and explain fully how God used the two weeks that we waited for results for His good. He showed us in that moment when we found out the news, that our baby was a huge blessing and testimony of His good. And at the same time, I would never be quick to judge one who has chosen this but quick to hug, and offer them the same forgiveness that Christ has given me so freely. There is no shame.
7. And He did this through all of the above. We learned yet again how peaceful the power of prayer feels. I know that I was only able to move forward by the peace and power that came only from Him.
8. He drew us closer to Him. He reminded us that even when our lives are busy or going well, we need Him and to grow our relationship with Him. A couple weeks prior this news, I had heard the song, God With Us by All Sons and Daughters on Pandora, and while I'm NOT a lyrical person, this line stood out to me: "In your presence, we find our strength". And at the time, life felt easy. I didn't know why this line would stand out to me until a couple weeks later when I clung to this song for peace and encouragement.
9. He reminded us that Scripture is alive and powerful. Certain verses just calmed my anxiety:
Psalm 16:5 & 8: Lord, you are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. I keep my eyes on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and keep you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
10. He used this situation to create a ferocious love in me for this little boy. While I worried that my first pregnancy wouldn't feel the "same" or be "exciting" when I actually started to feel him or show, He was faithful. It was during these two weeks of waiting that I felt him move strongly, and I found myself with my hand on my belly several times just beaming with joy. God is good.
While I wish I could say that this never happened to us or that it didn't have to happen to others in different extremes, the truth is that it did and it does. And while others might look at this situation and wonder how in the world my God could let this happen to us, I just explained to you above how He could.
He was merciful in his ways to let us endure this, because His name was illuminated and desired throughout it all. I have no doubt that if this little boy entered the world with Trisomy or not, he would be a testimony of God's love, he would be used and our faith would be strengthened.
So here we are today, resting in knowing some test results and more thankful than ever for this little boy we get to call ours.
Jordan flew back to Dallas in the middle of the two weeks while we waiting for the results, because he had to work. It was during that time that the nurse called me with "good news", though I emotionally still couldn't bear to hear it without Jordan. So naturally, I called Jordan frantically while he was at work. This guy, I'm telling you--my craziness needs his calmness. So he called them back to find out the results over the phone 2 days later: negative for all trisomies.
Praise God. God is good.
While our hearts were prepared to hear news that may not be what we had been praying for, our prayers were answered.
We had an appointment with the maternal-fetal specialist when I returned back home from New Mexico, and the doctor told us that the cyst in his brain had resolved, no spot in his heart and no echogenic bowel that looked concerning to him.
Praise God. I wept with joy and relief.
Now doctors, leave me alone, and let me be pregnant.
God is good.
But God Isn't Good Because He Gave Us What We Wanted
God is good, always. You see, regardless of the genetic testing results, we would have acknowledged and found God's goodness within those cards dealt, as well. He always works for our good. And in this case and that, the good is that He drew us closer to Him, showed us His love and provided us with what we needed. As a Christian, we don't expect life to be easy, but we can reply on our needs to be met.
While we were blindsided during our appointment, I still wonder if this could've been avoided. But I rest in the fact that this was supposed to happen, because it did. And there was so much good that came from it that I never want to forget--that closeness with the Lord and desire for His strength daily; how much of blessing a baby in the womb is and how desperately we need a relationship with the Lord daily.
I couldn't go without sharing this, because 1) there was so much good that came from such grief 2) we are continually prayerful and at peace with the growth of our baby in my tummy and 3) for those of you who have experienced this or something similar, I weep with you from afar.
Because sometimes the plans we make for ourselves aren't the plans God has for us. And He knows how to draw us closer to Him and what we need.
Down Syndrome or not, we are in love with this miracle little boy who we can't wait to meet in December, and we are definitely praying for you when we say we are praying for your healthy baby.