Monthly Archives: August 2012

There’s a miracle happening.

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This miracle, though, isn’t happening in our baby.  But rather, in our hearts.

Sometimes, the spark of faith is slight

And does not make the darkness bright.

But keep it lit and you will find:

Far better this than being blind.

One little flame when all is night,

Proves there is such a thing as Light.

Remember now the place and price

Where Jesus promised paradise.

One answered prayer when all is gone,

Will give you hope to wait for dawn.

                                                                                                                                          — From Job by John Piper

We get another day it seems!

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So we’re celebrating. Exactly 2 weeks ago, the doctor gave us 2-4 weeks left with our little one. So we started celebrating our “bonus time” this week – with a little trip to a pizza place. We’re really enjoying all the time we have with this little one – because we never know when it will end. That’s one thing our baby has taught us – to truly appreciate the things that are important.

Don’t get me wrong – we’re still nervous. Especially this week with some of my meds becoming irrelevant at this point and wondering if this baby’s placenta was blessed with the extra chromosome as well, and therefore won’t pick up the duties it needs to this week.

But today, right now, we still have a baby. And we’re thankful. Our God has truly blessed with gifts immeasurable.

Is it ever ok to ask God, “Why?”

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So many Christians think not. Perhaps they think the God who is gently taking them through a deep fire of trial or temptation now will add lightning to the mix if they question Him.

Perhaps they think that by questioning God they’re exhibiting a lack of faith.

Perhaps they think their friends would rebuke them for asking God for a purpose to their trials.

I had someone close to me tell me this week, “Stay close to God. I’d hate to go through what you’re going through as it is, but I’d really hate to do it with God angry with me!” I had a few other people tell me, “I can’t imagine what you’re going through. I bet you’re tempted to question God. Remember how much He loves you instead.” As if questioning God’s purpose for our trial was some sort of sin. And if I had the desire to question Him i was facing a temptation to sin.

While I appreciate every note, phone call (even though most of the time we haven’t answered them, I know!), message, comment on facebook, and gift, some of these particular comments got me thinking that perhaps there was something we were missing about our God.

I’ve been through trials before. Some in jr. high – “God, why did you let me leave my original copy of my state piano competition score at home? Now, after 10 months of 2 hr a day practice, I’ve been disqualified!” Some in high school – “God, why can’t I make a basket, even when my coach has put me in every. single. game?” Some in college – “Why innocent people in the twin towers? Why America? Why is evil seeming to win?” Some the day we gave birth to our first sweet daughter.

And now this. A deep trial that has rocked our faith to its core. After our faith had already been rocked to its core, we thought, twice in the last 6 months.

So, can we? Can I? You know, ask God for His purpose in putting me through such painful situations and trials?

Is it OK to ask God, the Creator of all things good, and the giver of all things good, for His purpose in putting us through some sort of trial that, honestly, makes us want to think that not knowing God would be easier than knowing He is good and all loving and still doing this to us?

Everything does have a purpose under the Heavens. (Ecclesiastes 3)

And all things are through God, In God, and from God. (Romans 11:36)

And we’re supposed to ask God – who created these purposes and knows these purposes – for wisdom. (James 1:5)

In fact, James said – When you’re in a trial, count it joy. Because this testing is going to bring about perseverance. And that perseverance. if you let it keep you in the trial until God deems it to be finished, when it’s finished its work, you will be perfect and complete – lacking nothing. But while you’re in that trial, If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

HOLD UP!

Really? God will give us the wisdom we need to get through trials? He’ll give us the wisdom we need to make it through? And He won’t get angry at us for asking?

The wisdom for deciding whether or not continuing some hormone supplements that were supposed to help me stay pregnant (which I was taking this entire pregnancy when I thought the baby was “perfect”), when the doctors are advising against it now and are all telling me that this is only prolonging the inevitable and will just cause more potential physical and emotional issues for me when I try to deliver a larger, more developed baby?

The wisdom for coming up with a birth plan about a planned C section vs a natural delivery, which could potentially give me a few more moments of life with our little one should he or she make it to full term, but could possibly have me so drugged up that I wouldn’t be alert and able to enjoy those few precious moments?

YES!

But what about when I need a reason. When what I’m doing needs a purpose. Why am I here on this earth? To glorify God. OK, I can do this living, earth-thing then. I have a purpose.

But why am I under this deep trial? Is it ok to ask God that?

I’m submitting another resounding YES. Here’s why I say that.

It’s been done. And not just by Job. And me.

Moses did it.

“Why have you given me this burden to carry these people? I don’t deserve this. Just kill me.” (Number 11:9-11)
 

Joshua did it.

“Why, if you are so Sovereign, did you bring us here only to have us face this hardship? I would have done things differently.” (Joshua 7:7)
 

David, That “man after God’s own heart”, did it.

“Why do you seem to stand afar off and hide Yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1-2)
“Why are you so far from helping me and do not hear my groanings?” (Psalm 22:1-2)
“Why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1)
 

King Hezekiah, the one who said, “I’ve been good in your site, God. I’ve been loyal to you.” And God added 15 years to his life, He did it.

“Why have you forgotten about me?” ( Psalm 42:9-10)
“Why do you cast me off?” (Psalm 43:2)
“Why do you sleep, God?” (Psalm 44:23)
 

Asaph, the songwriter responsible for many Psalms, did it.

“Why does your anger smoke against your people, God?” (Psalm 74:1)
“Why do you withdraw your hand of protection, God?” (Psalm 74:11)
 

Jeremiah, weeping in deep sorrow, did it.

“Why have you struck us and not healed us?” (Jeremiah 14:19)
Why is my pain perpetual? Are you a liar and unreliable?” (Jeremiah 15:18)
 

Habakkuk did it.

“Why do you allow wickedness to win and allow good people to suffer? (Habakkuk 1:3)
“Why are you silent when the wicked destroy those who are more righteous than they? You are not fair!” (Habakkuk 1:12-13)
 

Jesus. God-Man incarnate who knew all things – and never sinned. He did it.

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:45)

Perhaps sometimes, we already know the answer to the question we ask. We just still don’t understand that answer. Jesus certainly knew all things. Surely He knew what was happening. But if He was truly sinless, then asking such a thing in the midst of the worst trial in human history can’t possibly be a sin. Perhaps its a natural human response to find a purpose for what we’ve been given from God.

In fact, “the cross not only allows us to ask why; it compels us to ask. Because when we’re asking why, we’re peering into purpose. It’s absolutely essential, in “tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword,” that we discover and cooperate with divine purpose so that we might be “more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:35,37).” (quote from Bob Sorge.)

And it’s OK to do.

Just…be ready for God’s answer. Because He says: Go ahead during those trials and ask for wisdom. God will give it to you – and He won’t rebuke you for asking. But if you do ask, you’d better ask in faith, not doubting the answer you get. “For the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.”

So ask. In faith. And confidence.

(*some study notes of the servant’s questioning God taken from Jeanette Miller’s Study entitled, “When Seeing is Believing”)

Celebrating Week 15!

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You are so very loved. Even now.

 

It’s party time! On Sunday, we’ll have officially entered the beginning of “no man’s land” – when our sweet little baby has been expected to no longer be alive. And, while we don’t know in total surety that it’s still alive, we have no reason to think it’s not.

(But if anyone wants to purchase an ultrasound machine for us, I’ll be sure to send you a real nice thank you note – if they’re on amazon, make sure you use my affiliate link. Ha ha!) :)

So we’re celebrating today. And pretty much every day we have the energy to. Because I believe that joy comes from a gift of grace – the gift of grace that gives us the ability to be thankful for something in whatever situation we’re in.

Because we’re – I’m – choosing to be thankful, still, even with our bleak prognosis, for every precious day we have.

Here’s a few photos of our celebrating from the last few days:

Chloe’s family album from school. You’re in my tummy there – with my tummy getting bigger and bigger and bigger….

 

The percentage the dr’s giving you for life. We’re hoping against those odds that he’s wrong.

 

Your first (documented!) picnic at the park! The girls couldn’t wait to show you their favorite slide. And Chloe just wants to teach you how to walk. Maybe she’ll get to one day.

 

A little bed rest company from the big sisters.

 

Our anniversary dinner – your dad and I have been married for 8 years. Yeah, I know. We’re old. :)

 

 

Movie night. The girls were watching a new movie – it got a little scary at one point and they wanted to “keep you safe”. :)

 

 

 

A Rough Day washed away with Tears

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Today was rough. I’m not gonna lie to ya. The true realities of our pre-diagnosis has really started setting in.

Some (statistical) facts:

1 in 7,000 are born with this. Considering the average of the last few years of US recorded births is in the 4 million range…this gives us an approximate number of 550 babies per year in the US. This includes still births (sometimes called miscarriages) that occur in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters – which is after 13 weeks gestation.

Of those 550, about half of them make it to term – or 38-40 weeks gestation. So, around 275.

Of those 275, half of them will be still born – usually because of the severe heart defects that can’t hold up to the pressures of labor and delivery. Around 137 of them or so.

Of the 137 or so that do live through birth, almost all of them go straight into NICU care.

After that, less than 13 of them will be alive at the time of their first birthday.

The median survival time is 14.5 days.

This is Trisomy 18, or Edwards Syndrome.

We don’t have our official diagnosis yet; we’ll be doing a blood test for that in a couple of weeks when enough of baby’s DNA is in my blood to register on the testing scale. But based on the severe swelling (or nuchal translucency) surrounding baby, and the entire intestine system that is developing outside of the baby’s tummy, instead of inside, the specialist we’re seeing is giving us his best guess of Trisomy 18 on this one. And he’s assuming we’ll be in that 50% that don’t make it to term. In fact, he’s already made arrangements for delivery options for me in the next few weeks, should I go into labor.

Dealing with the unknown is rather unbearable at times. (How do you make any sorta plans for anything?!) And the amount of mental and emotional energy needed to stay positive and do the normal tasks is enormous. I found myself raising my voice, yelling, at my girls alot today. My youngest was crying about not being able to find her blanket “I just want my blanket, Mommy!” she said. – all I could do was begin sobbing with a “Yeah? Well all I wanted was a healthy baby.” We were both in tears for awhile together. Crying out both of our very real hurts and longings, tears rushing as freely as the rain from the late summer thunderstorm outside our home.

Don’t get me wrong. We have our God. We have His peace. We have friends praying. And we have a strong family. But I’m not Ok with this. It’s not easy. All I know is that, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me the strength”.

Feel free to stick to this journey with us. And feel free to not. I wouldn’t blame you at all if you don’t. For those that do, though, I hope beyond all odds that it will have its moments of joy. But I’m sure most days will be full of tough decisions, painful challenges, and dim outlooks.

I can only hope that someone somewhere will get some sort of blessing out of what our God does for us and our little baby in all of this.

I cried a lot today. But the tears seemed to help wash away a lot of the fears and uncertainties and sorrows – tomorrow is a new day. And we can’t wait to celebrate it with our little one. Because, like we said from the beginning, every day is a precious gift. And we’re choosing to celebrate each one of those days.

Rick Santorum with his little full Trisomy 18 daughter, Bella, who is 3 years old.

14 Weeks -

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How far along? 14 weeks, 3 days. (although baby’s development is measuring at only 11 wks 6 days)
Total weight gain/loss: 3-4 lbs. +1 this week!
Maternity clothes? I pulled out a couple of capris I found in my closet this week. Along with some honeymoon clothes. Pretty sure I won’t be wearing those for awhile. :)
Sleep: Back on hormones for another couple of weeks….so, back to 3 hour naps and early bedtimes.
Best moment this week: Seeing our beautiful baby on an ultrasound. After thinking it was no longer alive. It was the most wonderful  thing ever.
Movement: not yet – but it kinda waved to us on the ultrasound. :)
Food cravings: banana pudding?
Anything making you queasy or sick: yes – cleaning bathrooms and taking out the trash.
Have you started to show yet: Yeeep – a tad.

Gender Predictions: still guessing a boy…

Labor Signs: YES. (thus the ultrasound) But for now, baby is staying put.
Belly Button in or out? IN
Wedding rings on or off? ON – Still on the right hand too! (That’s my bigger hand, and my rings haven’t been resized since I lost 30 pounds in the spring. So, they’re still too big for my left hand. Maybe I’ll be able to wear them the whole time this pregnancy?
Happy or Moody most of the time: This week was pretty tough.
Weekly Wisdom: Peace is something God gives freely when you trust in His plan. But joy is something you have to fight for.
Milestones: baby is as big as a plum – about 2 inches from head to rump. (And we celebrated our 8th anniversary!)

Exercise: I’m still on bed rest this week – really taking it easy.

How I found peace in losing my brokenness.

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I truly didn’t think I’d be here again.

The place where I was stricken with fear and doubts.  We have been here twice before. Back in January. And again, on Mother’s Day. Attempting to open our hands to God’s will – allowing Him to take yet another precious baby from our future arms.  My husband had been forced to go out late that Saturday night in May to get a new Mother’s Day card. One that didn’t mention how happy he was about our new addition coming in January. Because I didn’t need a reminder on that lonely day that while everyone else was celebrating the gift of their children, I was sending another one away.

But yet, here I was. only 13 weeks later. Pre-labor contractions and bleeding. I knew exactly what this was. I had been here twice before.

I had tried to be thankful for every day we had together. I had taken every precaution. I had joy. We were all so happy. This was it. This was the baby God had for us and everyone would see it. They would see God’s wonderful blessings to us and bringing us through two heart wrenching losses.

And yet, here I was. Losing another baby. On another weekend. So I had to wait – agonizingly wait – for Monday.

I was so angry. The things I had always believed about God and children seemed to be untrue.

“Children are a heritage of the womb.”  “No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.” “And God said, be fruitful. Multiply.” “If you ask anything according to my will, He hears us.”

Perhaps God was untrue?

How is this good?

I walked into my bedroom again. Attempting to prepare to have yet another precious, dreamed about, wished for child pried out of my clenched fingers. I packed away my newly purchased maternity clothes. Again. I deleted my pregnancy tracker app. Again. I coldly cleaned my bedroom and bathroom. The others were born into a clean, peaceful place. This one would be too. My dear friend brought me a lavender rice pack to help with the pain. My mom came up from Georgia to help watch the girls. I was ready. But my heart was completely broken. I had no joy, no hope, no peace. I needed to be fixed. And a baby, dead or alive, couldn’t do that.

Then came morning….

The next morning, my symptoms hadn’t really gotten worse, so we decided to stick to our appointment for an ultrasound to see what was going on. We went in to the specialist’s office, went back to the ultrasound room. And I closed my eyes. I didn’t want to see what I knew would be in front of me.

But, yet, we saw it. A fist that pumped in the air. Within milliseconds of appearing on screen. And it’s little feet started kicking around.  Despite my broken heart, God had decided to let us see this miracle in front of us. This tiny, 4 cm miracle of life. Of hope. Of joy.

But our saga wasn’t over.

The ultrasound technician saw something of grave concern – swelling. Fluid. Surrounding baby. Nuchal Translucency. “The Dr. will talk to you about that. For now, just be happy about what you’re seeing. I have a feeling this little one is gonna keep you on a rollercoaster.” She said.

The fear crept in again. Remember, my heart, now not as heart-broken as it was 12 hours ago, was still a broken heart.

The doctor didn’t wait long to tell us – “I’m afraid I don’t have anything good to tell you today.” He started. After that, all I really heard were some numbers:

“Less than 5% chance of survival.” “Most likely chromosomal issues.” “80% chance of gross abnormalities.” “There are tests we can do.” “You probably have about 2-4 weeks.” “There are options. We can terminate the pregnancy.” “This isn’t your fault.” “Would you like a moment?”

We cried, again. 15 minutes before we were sobbing with joy. Now we were sobbing in fear. And I was still angry.

He gave us a few moments. Then he came back in and explained it all again, knowing we really hadn’t grasped it all the first time. “Come back in a week to check for viability.” He said.

We got in the car and stared ahead.

I’m very pro-life. I’m very anti-abortion. But in that moment, I saw termination as a very real option. I was extremely afraid. I was extremely angry. I was extremely broken. And saving my baby from a lifetime of handicaps seemed to be the most loving thing I could do as a parent at the time. Suddenly, losing the baby wasn’t the worst thing that could happen.

Earthly support – Heaven sent.

Word got out pretty quickly. Hundreds of friends and family began lending their prayer support and offering to bring food and clean my house and take as many day to day burdens off of us as they could.  The most valuable thing they did, though, was begin to shower me with words from Scripture. Words of hope. Words of love. And songs. We were given more songs and iTunes albums than meals. And I’m so thankful. For those meals, while they fed our bodies, could never have fed our souls.

I began to see the brokenness of my own heart – and not of God’s Words. He began putting the pieces of my heart back together. Gently. Thoughts would come into my mind as I googled everything under the sun about my baby’s possible futures. There was no way I could prepare for all the options.

“Stop. Whatever things are true…”

Think on these things. Thankfully, my friends had given me enough truth to dwell on for a lifetime. Their emails, comments, texts, phone calls were full of truth.

And these, literally hundreds, of possibilities I was researching were not true, yet. And thinking on them – which I didn’t need to do, yet –  brought no peace. They only brought chaos to my already broken-soul. So, I turned to the one passage that gives a formula for something everyone in the world craves. And for something I desperately needed.

Peace.

“Do not be anxious about anything. But in everything…let your requests be made known unto God. Then the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds.”

“[And] think on things that are true…and anything that’s worthy of praise….and the God of peace will be with you.”

And He was. Feeling this real peace was like riding a wave – a fast, tumultuous wave with no straight path because of the violence of the storm it was under – and riding it into a calm, peaceful, sunny bay.

I had to stop. Stop thinking about the endless possibilites. The beautiful girl in the wheelchair I saw at Chipotle with no communication abilities. The thought of delivering a dead baby in a cold hospital room in the very near future.  A funeral for an hours-old infant. The possible looming financial burdens suddenly thrown at us. None of those things were known to be true, yet. And none of those things were, in my mind, worthy of praise at the moment.

What was true, though, was that my God does love me. And I’m not the center of my universe. He is. Everything He does is for His glory. And, as my wise husband has said after every loss, “If nothing else, we’ve helped increase the souls in God’s kingdom by one today.” What was true was that I saw my baby. And it was alive. And besides this significant amount of fluid that was surrounding its sweet little body, it seemed perfectly healthy. So, we would fight for every one of those 5 percents.

So I encourage you, my friend. Whatever it is God has led you through – no matter how dark or how long your valley of deathly shadows -

“Come, broken, to the cross,

Where Christ embraced all human loss.

And let us bow before the throne

Of God, who gives and takes his own.

And promises – whatever toll

He takes – to satisfy our soul.

Come, learn the lesson of the rod:

The treasure that we have in God.

He is not poor nor much enticed

Who loses everything but Christ.”

(– quoted from Job, by John Piper)

Because “From Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things done. To Him be glory forever!”

And today, even without knowing if the life inside of me is in fact still a life, I can honestly, gratefully, end by uttering a quiet,

Amen.