I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory. – 1 Peter 1:6-7 (The Message)
First, let me start out by explaining why I’ve started this blog and what fire has to do with everything. I decided to write down this journey so my friends and family can stay informed and be able to pray for our specific needs. I also hope and pray that my story will be encouraging to whoever comes across it and that ultimately they see how my relationship with God and the hope and faith I have in Him has helped me make it through yet another “fire.” Like the verses above say, “Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine.” We are more precious than gold to God and we know (no matter who we are or what we believe) this life is full of struggles. When you are going through a tough time (your “fire”), IT SUCKS! But I truly believe when we put our trust in Him, we come out of the fire more pure and He blesses us beyond imagination. I know, this ain’t my first fire.
Disclaimer (because unfortunately everything needs one these days): This blog reflects my choices and my beliefs. I believe God has given all of us a choice and we are allowed to choose differently than someone else. So while I don’t judge you for the choices you make, please show me the same respect.
LIVING THE DREAM
Almost a year ago, September 17, 2011, I had the honor of marrying my best friend. One month later, we closed on our first house. That same day, I was offered a new job as the Administrative Assistant for Children’s and Youth Ministries at our church. Blessings abounded! Hooray for more money and less hours and a ton less stress. A few months later, we adopted our first baby, Zoey. She’s a black and brown mut and the most adorable fur-baby I’ve ever seen. Shortly after that, we got a new car. Hooray for air conditioning and a horn! And then just weeks later, we got the best news of all…I’m pregnant! We found out on Timmy’s birthday. Hooray! Live it up Honey cause next year’s birthday is gonna look totally different.
We had our first doctor appointment July 7, 2012, and when we heard that heartbeat we each shed a tear of joy. I joked with my friends, “My goal is to be that pregnant woman that all the other pregnant women hate. You know, the one who’s glowing and has no discomfort and labor is like two seconds long.” Then I started to regret that joke, especially as one of my dear friends was having terrible morning sickness and I had to tell her (almost daily), “Sorry, no, I feel great.” I felt bad that I felt so good. Don’t get me wrong, I had passing moments of nausea, but mostly I was just tired all the time. Other than the typical miscarriage fears, the first trimester was kind of a breeze. Thank you God!
AND THEN WE SMELLED SMOKE
August 6, 2012: My 12 week appointment. I went into the office fully prepared, or so I thought. Tim was working. I told him he didn’t need to come since they were just going to do a Pap and listen to the heartbeat. I mean seriously, if you can opt out of witnessing a Pap, do it! My doctor prepared me for the possibility of not being able to hear the heartbeat with the Doppler and when she couldn’t find it, she sent me for an ultrasound. Hooray, another picture of the baby! The tech found the heartbeat with no problems. Thank you God! The baby was doing somersaults and swimming all over the place. Then the tech said, “Okay, I’m just gonna see if the doctor wants to take a look at anything.” FYI ultrasound techs of the world, we’re not dumb! We watch TV. We know doctors don’t just come look at pictures of healthy babies just to ooh and ahh over them. My stomach sank.
My doctor came back and told me they were seeing a couple of concerns in the baby’s development. She said there is a herniation in the abdomen and more fluid around the brain than we’d like to see. She then suggested we take a blood sample for the Harmony test, which checks for chromosomal abnormalities such as Downs syndrome and other Trisomy defects. I agreed without hesitation. She also made me high risk and referred me to a specialist. I immediately went to God. Please Lord, protect this baby. Please let them be wrong. Maybe we just caught the baby in mid-morph. It’s doing a lot of developing still, maybe we just caught it on a bad day.
I stopped by Tim’s work and told him what was going on. I called my work and told them I was taking the day off. I started calling family. Timmy got off work early and met me at home. We spent the rest of the day crying and praying and trying to process.
August 13, 2012: Our first appointment with the specialist. The entire appointment from start to finish was only about 15 minutes. He showed us the baby on the ultrasound and told us about his concerns. “I think this is either a trisomy 13 or 18, in which case the baby will die one of these ways.” Wow doc, way to break it to us gently! Tim and I sat and listened to him. We asked a few questions and then were on our way back home. The whole time the doctor was explaining his concerns, I couldn’t help but think, “That’s interesting, but you’re not in charge.” I know that God is growing this baby, not me. I know that He knows exactly what He’s doing. And the prayers continued and intensified. Please God, give us a miracle. Please heal our baby completely. Please shock the socks off the docs. Please let the blood work come back negative.
Our family and friends and church family have been amazingly supportive! We’ve had so many people encouraging us and praying for us and this precious baby. Our hope has been high and our confidence in God’s abilities has never wavered. Now, our confidence in His plan for us, that’s a different story. We have no idea what He’s planning for us! But we do know
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT, WE HAVE FLAMES
August 21, 2012: The blood results are in. Positive. Trisomy 13 with holoprosencephaly and an omphalocele. This means our precious baby will not be “compatible with life.” Oh dear God, please help us through this. Let me just say, I believe 100% without a doubt in my mind that God can still miraculously heal this baby. However, at this point, I don’t think that is part of His plan for us. I think we are headed down a different road. So let’s start with a few definitions, shall we.
- Trisomy 13: The presence of three copies of chromosome 13, rather than the normal two.
- Omphalocele: A congenital hernia in which a portion of the fetal abdominal contents, covered by a membrane sac, protrudes into the base of the umbilical cord. (Basically, baby’s insides are in a sac on the outside. If this were our only concern, this could be fixed with a simple surgery.)
- Holoprosencephaly: Failure of the forebrain to divide into hemispheres or lobes causing insufficient development of facial characteristics. (Basically, baby is missing the piece that connects the two halves of brain and the skull has more fluid than brain tissue.)
Our sweet baby has the omphalocele and the holoprosencephaly which have been caused by the trisomy 13 defect. Trisomy 13 is a rare disorder, only effecting about 1 in 16,000. Our doctor has explained there is no way we caused this and there is no way to cure it. Unfortunately, it’s just something that happens sometimes and this time it’s happening to us. She also told us there is a less than 1% chance of this occurring in future pregnancies. (Hooray for a piece of positive information!)
August 23, 2012: “What can we expect” meeting. We met with the doctor and she explained the above to both Timmy and I. We have already told her that termination of the pregnancy is not an option for us. We are going to continue on this road and let things happen naturally. Some of you may say, “What? Are you crazy? Why suffer any longer?” Well, my conscience and my beliefs will not allow me the peace of mind of stopping this baby’s heartbeat. This baby has a strong and healthy heartbeat! I think it’s important for people to know, however, just because termination is not an option for us does not mean that it isn’t appealing. (“What? You monster!”) The above hypothetical questions make sense. Why suffer any longer? Here’s how I see this for me. If I terminate this pregnancy, my pain today will end, but I know I would feel guilty for the rest of my life. If I wait for God’s timing, yes, my pain now is drawn out longer, but when my sweet baby leaves my body and passes away, I will have peace knowing it died naturally. Also, as long as this baby lives, we will pray for its healing because we know our God is capable of miracles!
IT’S GONNA GET HOT
Tim and I are in for a bumpy ride. There is no way this journey won’t be painful. There is no easy way out. There is no avoiding the situation. We have to face this. But our hope is in the Lord. We don’t know what His plan is or why this is happening to us. But we do know that He is going to help get us through it and we know He is going to bless us through it. Since the moment I realized I was pregnant, I’ve prayed God would use me and this baby for His glory. Maybe this is how He’s going to do it. Maybe our story is going to help someone else who is suffering. Maybe they are going through the exact same thing. Maybe their fire doesn’t even begin to compare with ours. Each fire you go through, makes you stronger for the next one, and we can be sure that this life will have fires. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you believe, how you live, how you love, or what planet you’re from. The bottom line is that no matter what you’re going through, whether your fire is just a spark or a full on national emergency, your attitude will determine how you get through it. But I can promise (yes, promise) that when you’re faith is in the Lord, He will see you through it and you will be blessed beyond imagination. Like I said, this ain’t my first fire. Stay tuned. I’ll share that story too.
In the meantime…please keep the prayers coming.