Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Two Week Wait

Two weeks ago at my last routine prenatal visit, I had a blood test to find out if I am a carrier for the cystic fibrosis gene. They told us to wait two weeks, and they would call if the result was positive, but after two weeks I might want to call in myself just to find out either way. So, as the days came and went leading up to the two week mark with no phone call, I became more optimistic, especially the day before and day of the two weeks. Since no call came, I basically assumed they were going to tell me I tested negative, and all this waiting would come to an end.

So yesterday I called in and left a message for them to call with my lab results. At the end of the day, after their office was already closed, the phone call finally came. A perky sounding nurse apologized for not catching me earlier. Apparently they had tried to call my cell phone first, and I hadn't heard it. She said I did in fact test positive as a carrier for cystic fibrosis.

After all my optimism, this was pretty disappointing news. There still isn't a reason to assume our baby has the disease, but it just brings the possibility that much closer to home. This morning Mark went in for a blood test, so now we are back to the two week wait again. I thought two weeks was long when trying to conceive, but this seems so much longer!!

If he tests negative, we are most likely in the clear, but there is still a very small chance because they only test for the most common form of the gene, and there are some more rare forms that he could carry that wouldn't show up on the test. If he tests positive, there is still a reasonable chance our baby might not have the disease, but of course the likelihood jumps considerably. In that case we would start preparing ourselves for dealing with it if he is born with it, and the waiting game would continue until he could be tested after birth. I'm not sure if there is any more they can tell via ultrasound than what they have already seen with the echogenic bowel, which is inconclusive.

So in the meantime, we are just waiting again, while still praying and hoping for the best. Thank you for your prayers, I'll keep updating when we find out more!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Weight of Glory

Today I had to miss church and small group Bible study because of sickness, so it seems like just as good of a day as any to blog about my Bible reading. I’ve been thinking about some verses lately found in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. Paul writes, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Let’s first take a look at one section of verse 17, “our light and momentary troubles…” At first glance this description of our earthly struggles could appear offensive, even flippant. This would definitely not be a verse to write in a sympathy card or to quote to someone in the darkest time of their grief. Let’s face it, some passages are just better when you arrive at them on your own, and have only to think about what GOD meant by including it in His word, not human interpretation. I would say this is one of them, and I’ve been puzzling over it recently.

Light and momentary…Seriously? Well, let’s see, this is Paul writing about his physical struggles of mistreatment and imprisonment, so it must not be meant to apply to the loss of a child, right? It must not be meant to apply to me…

But the more I think and pray about these verses, the more I see that they are definitely intended to apply to me. So, how can God’s word actually call my pain and struggles light and momentary? Don’t you see what I’ve been through, Lord, don’t you know how empty it feels, how much it hurts? You are the only one who fully knows what I feel inside, and do you call it light and momentary?

To answer these questions, I need only look at the context of the rest of scripture. This year I’ve been in a Bible study group doing an in depth study of the book of John. One of our recent studies was chapter 11.

Here, Jesus’ friend Lazarus has died. Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha are among His most intimate earthly relationships, along with his disciples and his mother Mary, so he joins their side. Verses 33-35 say “When Jesus saw her (Mary) weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to Him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept….” And verse 38 “So Jesus, again being very moved within, came to the tomb.” After this Jesus proceeds to heal Lazarus and calls him forth from the tomb, alive, and Mary and Martha and all those around are filled with unspeakable joy.

When considering Jesus’ emotional response, I believe it goes far beyond a human reaction to seeing that his friend has died. For one, Jesus knew that He had power over death, and that he would soon raise Lazarus to life again. It did sadden him that Lazarus had died, but this description of how deeply He felt goes beyond that. He also felt sympathy towards Mary and Martha, and profoundly compassionate in response to their sorrow. Yet, there is still more to His reaction, since He does know that their mourning will turn very quickly into rejoicing.

Here, I think Jesus is grieved for a variety of reasons. Deeply moved in spirit, in the literal Greek, means not only that He was sad, but also angered. Romans 6:23 says “The wages of sin is death…,” and here He is angry at Satan, our adversary and the father of sin and death, and deeply moved by the depth of suffering death brings to the lives of those He loves. He is feeling the weight of the pain, sorrow, and suffering of mankind as a result of death not only in this case, but all through the ages. He can see through the corridors of time, and knows that in the case of Lazarus he will rescue immediately, but in most cases, this pain will be felt until heaven.

In a sense, Jesus wept that day, for me, as if He could see the six-year-old feeling forsaken after the loss of her Daddy, the 14-year-old girl whose friend was killed in a car crash, at 16 when another friend was murdered, and now the Mommy weeping over the loss of her only daughter.

He wept not only for me, but for you, and for countless other members of the human race who Jesus loved and identified with deeply. He does not consider our suffering light and momentary from a human standpoint. In fact, He fully recognizes and has personally felt its magnitude. Not only that, but not so long after raising Lazarus, Jesus would personally bear the full penalty of death on His own shoulders on the cross, to make a way for those who believe in Him to escape spiritual death and be united together with Him and with each other for eternity.

Isaiah 53: 3-4 says of Christ:
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows

Hebrew 4:14-16 reads:
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

So, if Jesus fully understands the depth of suffering we experience on this earth, why does His word speak of it in terms that would almost appear to dismiss it. How does Paul, whose suffering was immense, call all his trials light and momentary?

Because they are light and momentary by comparison.

Comparison to what? I know many of us have felt such sorrow over the loss of our children, we wonder how anything could ever make it look light by comparison. The answer is nothing can, on this earth.

But let’s look at the rest of this passage “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Our current trials are being compared with the promise of our eternal glory. Heaven. Also in Romans 8:18 Paul writes “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” That is how immeasurably great the promise of heaven is.

Think of the deepest sadness you have ever felt, the most difficult day on your grief journey. Maybe the day you found out you would lose your baby, or the day you held your child for the last time. Or maybe it was days or even weeks later, when reality really began to sink in. Imagine the heaviness on your soul, an incomparable weight.

Now consider for just a moment, that on the flip side, the glory, joy, and freedom of heaven carries a weight that is far greater than that. In fact, that the heaviness of our sadness does not even compare in magnitude to the weight of glory! It’s more than I can understand or imagine. The only way to explain it is, “what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Although it remains unseen temporarily, if I close my eyes long enough, I can almost see the open arms of Jesus as I run into them on that day. I can almost hear Eliana laughing as she runs to me and I hold her for the first time alive. And when I picture that, I can understand these verses. Nothing could possibly compare to the magnitude of that day, not even our most profound feelings of suffering can begin to scratch the surface. All of that will melt away in an instant, in the blink of an eye, and it will suddenly be so light and momentary in light of eternity.

Revelation 21:4 says that God Himself will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. For the very last time, there will be tears, and as they are wiped away by our Father, a permanent healing takes place. Our souls are made whole for the first time, and perhaps in that moment, those who have felt the greatest degree of pain and loss will experience the deepest degree of boundless joy. Only then, in the midst of utter perfection and completion, will our suffering be converted into light and momentary trouble. How I long for that day.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Update on Baby June

So, life has just calmed down to a reasonable enough pace for me to post a quick update on Tuesday's appointment. First of all, thank you to all who prayed for me. I was actually the calmest I have been for any of my OB visits in this pregnancy. I felt very relaxed and at peace the entire time, even as the tech did measurement after measurement of the baby's brain and heart. It crossed my mind that I didn't remember them doing it in that much detail before. But I think I was so naive in my previous three pregnancies, although I was happy everything looked good, I spent a lot of those ultrasounds just day-dreaming about how cute my baby was, without a lot of concern for potential complications. This time I paid close attention to everything they were checking and although I was calm, I was still on the alert for any hint of a problem. She saw that the baby's bowel is still appearing prominent, but I was blessed to have the same tech as last time, and she told me that it didn't appear as noticeable as it was last time. Still, it appeared different from the norm, so it's something we will keep watching as long as it continues to show up.

The Dr. I saw was very reassuring, and he explained more details about cystic fibrosis, and confirmed that the chance of our baby having it is small. He also went ahead and ordered the test for me to have the blood test to see if I'm a carrier. I'll have those results back in two weeks. If it were to come back positive, then my husband would also be tested. (we would both have to test positive for it to show up in one of our children.) I feel relieved that we will get some information in the next couple of weeks. The Dr. also mentioned that besides CF, the finding could also indicate a problem with the baby's anus that could require a surgery following birth. Of course we don't want our newborn to have to go through a surgery, but my perspective has been changed enough through losing our daughter, that I feel like all of these possibilities are manageable compared with the thought of losing our son. If we get the privilege of parenting him, I know we will be able to deal with any complications that could come up. The Dr. also said that his first guess would be that the baby could be born without any issues at all, so of course that's our hope.

Going into this pregnancy, I really hoped for it to be textbook and uneventful. So far that hasn't been the case at all, but I know God has a plan in all of this, and our faith is definitely being strengthened in the process! We appreciate your continued prayers for our sweet little boy!

Monday, February 8, 2010


I just wanted to post a quick update that tomorrow is our 20 week anatomy scan. We've been praying daily for good news at this appointment, and I am anxious to see what we will find out. At our last appointment, they saw on the ultrasound a prominent small intestine, which we were told could be a possible indicator of cystic fibrosis. The Dr. said that sometimes these things will not even show up the next time they check. Tomorrow we will see if it is indeed still showing up, and if so, we will probably be referred to see if we can find out more through a specialist. In addition, of course, I am hoping to get a good report on all of the other things they will be checking. Right now I am feeling mostly excited to get a look at our sweet little boy again, and lots of peace about whatever we will see. I would still ask for your prayers tomorrow as we go in at 1:30. Usually I start to feel more emotional, and a little panicked as soon as I drive into the clinic parking lot for each appointment, and since this is the big one, I'm sure I will be battling some anxiety.

We've done some research on CF since our last scan, and have felt encouraged by all the continuing medical advancements. The prognosis is really very good for a baby born now with the disease, as opposed to years prior. I feel confident that if we do find out he has it, God will give us all the grace we need to handle it, and our son can still have a long and full life even with the illness.

My last post was about how much I have been missing Eliana lately, even in relation to this pregnancy, but I don't want to overshadow in any way how excited I am about this little boy. Each time we've found out the gender, I have immediately started to feel like I know that little person so much better, and this time I have just been falling more and more in love with him with each passing day. I feel like he is such a special baby, because he was God's specific plan for us, even though we had no idea. We thought we would be having a baby last year, which means according to our timing, this year we would not. God knew differently from the beginning, and had this plan laid out all along for our special little boy to come into the world. I know he will bring so much joy into our lives, and I just can't wait to see his face, and get to know his unique little personality. While we will always miss our little girl, I believe God will also use this baby in a special way to bring further healing to our hearts like only He can. It's amazing to me how the human heart can carry so much heart ache, but so much loving anticipation and joy all at the same time. Never have I had such conflicting emotions at one time, but here I am.

I really wasn't surprised at all to find out we were having a boy. I had a feeling most of the time. Partly, because I had three different dreams about boys. In one I had in October, shortly after we found out we were expecting, I was pregnant with twins. Around the 25/26 week mark, I went into preterm labor. Everyone was extremely concerned except for me. Somehow, I just knew both babies would be okay. I knew that one was a girl and one a boy, and the girl was fully mature and could be born, but the boy needed more time. I told the doctors not to worry, "She will be just fine, and he won't be born now, he'll stay in there longer until the time is right." Sure enough, contrary to science, our baby girl was born at 25 weeks fully mature like a two month-old baby, and our little boy, who was at the normal developmental stage for that gestation would stay in the womb for many more weeks. Our daughter had lots of dark curly hair like Eliana did, and the prettiest dark eyes. I got to hold her, and talk to her as she gazed back at me lovingly and smiled. Pure bliss, and I didn't want to wake up.

The more I thought of it afterward, I wondered if the baby girl in my dream was really Eliana, two months old just as she would have been in October if she had lived to her due-date, and the baby boy twin was actually our next baby, for the pregnancy we were just beginning. Now that it was confirmed he is a boy, I take comfort in that explanation, and that my peace and assurance in the dream is the true assurance that he really will be born healthy at the proper time.

Later in the pregnancy I had another dream about the most adorable little newborn baby boy with dark hair and eyes like the baby girl from the other dream. He was so perfect and I loved him so much. I'm curious to find out if our son will resemble this baby or not when he's born.

My third boy dream, a couple days before last month's ultrasound was really funny. In real life, my mom was so convinced throughout this pregnancy that I was expecting a girl that she kept calling the baby "she" every time she referred to it. I reminded her often that it might very well be a boy, but she was convinced. It really didn't bother me all that much, besides being slightly annoying. In my dream, however, they confirmed that we were having a boy, and I went into an all out tirade to my mom for calling my son a girl for three months.

So, all that to say, my instincts were spot on with this one, and we are so blessed and so excited to be carrying this sweet little boy blue.