Sunday, March 28, 2010

Unchartered Territory

This week I have passed a big pregnancy milestone. I am 26 weeks going on 27, so Baby June has now eclipsed his big sister by a little over a week. Realizing that, I am just so thankful for each moment, but at the same time it is bittersweet, because each little kick and roll reminds me of the moments I will never have with Eliana. There is once again that paradox of being excited about the growing baby inside of me, while still longing for the one I am missing. Will my feelings associated with my son always be a dichotomy?

And why does the path ahead feel so much like unchartered territory? I've already delivered two healthy babies. I've heard that beautiful sound of the first newborn cry, and experienced the tears of happiness when my new squirmy baby is placed on my chest and our eyes meet in an instant bond of love. So why is it that it feels so foreign again? I close my eyes and try to picture that moment with this little boy, and it is still so difficult to do. I don't think it's an issue of doubt and fear. Lately, I feel very little fear about experiencing another death in the womb. God has given us so much peace about that, and although there is some uncertainty about his health after birth, I've come to feel a strong assurance in the goodness of God's overall plan for our son.

For me, I think it is just the undeniable fact that Eliana has changed me forever. The moments of her short life and her silent entry into this world have left their mark on my soul, and I will never view pregnancy and childbirth in the same way again. As much as I treasure in my heart the experience we had with her, it was traumatic nonetheless. The complete antithesis of what it "should" be, and in that part of my mind and heart that goes beyond all reason and understanding there is a wound so deep that it won't allow me to fully picture and embrace the thought of a healthy birth experience. There is just something beyond words that holds me back.

I do believe in my heart that we will have that healthy birth, I believe I will hear that amazing cry, and feel that warm wiggly goodness in my arms that means life. I love this little boy with all my heart, and long for the day I will get to tell him face to face. I know it will be incredible, and all it was before and more. But for now, it all feels like unchartered territory.

I'll leave you with pictures of a happy outcome

Newborn Caedmon in the hospital:

Newborn Jayden in the hospital:

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Baby June Update

Recently I came home from work when my mom was baby-sitting the boys, and she told me the doctor had phoned and said he was just "checking in." I knew that meant he had something significant to tell me, and since we were expecting our results from my husband's CF carrier screening, that had to be it.

I dialed his office with my heart beating fast, and as he picked up the phone and I told him who I was, I held my breath.

"I was just calling to tell you that those test results for your husband came back today, and he did test positive as a carrier for the cystic fibrosis gene..." He went on to tell me again about the statistics, one in four that our baby will have the disease, and more background information. He said we could talk more at my next appointment coming up, and in the meantime we could research on-line over the weekend and let him know if we want to set up an appointment with a genetic counselor. was just so strange to hear those words. Over the past 10 weeks we have gone from a tiny tiny percentage chance to a 25% chance that our baby has CF. Especially considering the ultrasound finding with his intestine looking prominent, we felt very concerned for our son. That finding is what initially prompted them to check if we were carriers, but they assured us of the rarity that we would both come back positive. Yet now, here we are again in a small minority, again facing the possibility of joining a club we never signed up for...

The next few days went by in a relative blur of praying, doing research, and just feeling overwhelmed with the magnitude of this news. Less than a year ago we buried our only daughter, now we are suddenly faced with the possibility of our son having a life-threatening illness. Difficult to process, impossible to understand, and yet somehow we had to find perspective.

I couldn't sleep in the days leading up to our appointment. It wasn't just that I was anxious, I was in desperate need of reaching out to God, and for Him to answer. I would wake up in the night suddenly praying in my spirit for my little boy before my mind could catch up. I would try to nap on the couch only to be awakened soon after with more fervent prayer.

I wasn't sure how to pray. We don't know if he has inherited both of our CF genes or not, he might already be perfectly healthy...or not. Do I pray for him to be healed? We know God is fully capable of bringing him to us healthy, but we also know our will doesn't always line up with His. I'm so grateful for those verses found in Romans 8:26-27: "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will."

I just decided to lay my heart on the line, and trust that the Holy Spirit will step in where my prayers fail. I have told God that our hearts' cry is for our son to be born healthy, so that's what we're praying for. Yet I know that what I ultimately want is God's will for my life, so I will accept whatever that is, and welcome it knowing that it will give us an opportunity to bring greater glory to Him. Last May we were called to surrender our daughter into His hands, and what could ever be harder than that? And yet one thing I am learning is that it's not only Eliana I'm called to surrender, all of my children and all of my loved ones are equally His. He wants me to place each of them in His loving arms, and trust Him to care for them, and to work out His plan for their lives.

The idea of my son suffering breaks my heart. There is nothing I want more than to see him born healthy and strong. Yet, I think of Jesus in the garden praying "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." Think of the depth of love the Father had for His only begotten Son Jesus, beyond human understanding. Yet He knew there was no other way for mankind to be saved but through the suffering of His Son. Despite Jesus' prayer to be spared from betrayal, suffering, and death, He still longed for His Father's will above all else, and look at the outcome of the Father's will. Jesus suffered a matchless agony on the cross, but to bring about the most beautiful miracle ever to take place--the salvation of our souls! The penalty of sin paid in full for all who receive Him, and with His blood we gained the right to be called sons and daughter of God! If Jesus had never suffered, we could never be saved.

Of course any human suffering will never equal that of Jesus, and any positive outcome will never equal the magnitude of the salvation of mankind, but what a glorious example of what it means to yield to the Father's will. And what a picture of how far-reaching, good, and infinitely loving our Father's will is!

And so as the days passed my heart was filled with unspeakable peace about our little boy. Not peace that we are guaranteed he will be free from suffering, but peace about who our God is. He loves our son so deeply, He knows His days and ours before we are even born, He has all of our lives mapped out in detail, and plans to carry us through any trial we might face. I trust that any trial He allows in our lives has passed first through His loving hands, and He WILL take care of our baby, He WILL carry us, and He WILL use all things for good. So I can confidently pray "Lord if it is possible, let this cup of suffering pass from my child and our family, and bring him into this world perfectly healthy with no illness, but not my will, but yours be done."

I don't pray that lightly and easily, but with tears and a heart that aches to the depths knowing far too well the pain of surrender. But I will step forward with faith, and trust that He will be who He has always been, and He will do all He has promised to do.

We walked into our next OB appointment smiling and laughing and feeling lighter than we had in some time. I was called back for an ultrasound before seeing the Dr., and felt prepared for anything that we might see. What we saw was...incredible.

After two ultrasounds in the last two months showing an abnormal small intestine, the tech typed in "normal bowel" and wrote it at the top of my chart for the first thing the Doctor would see. Everything else looked fabulous, and there was our sweet little monkey moving around and looking as adorable as ever. Of course we were breathing a huge sigh of relief, and praising God. This was our 5th ultrasound for this pregnancy, and the first with only good news!

We discussed things further with the doctor, and when he looked closely at the u/s pictures, he did say it still looked slightly prominent to him, but it does look good enough now that it wouldn't have even been documented had it looked like this to begin with. We're so grateful to rule out the concern of a surgery after birth, and the fact that whatever was showing up seems to have all but disappeared would seem to indicate it was unrelated to CF. The 25% chance he might be born with it remains, but without the bowel issue, I am looking at it as a 75% chance he will be born healthy! It's all in God's hands. Please continue to join us in prayer for a healthy little boy born in June, and that God would continue to strengthen our faith as we await his arrival.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

10 Months

Today it has been 10 months since those precious, fleeting moments of holding our daughter in our arms. 10 months since we counted her fingers and toes, and sang songs and prayed over her, since we saw her tiny face and delicate little features. Those moments are forever etched upon my heart, though as time passes they become more hazy in my mind. I want to keep the memories fresh and clear through all of time, but instead they become increasingly faded like an antique photograph.

I want so much to be near to her.

If only I could catch a glimpse of her, running and laughing, so vibrant and so ALIVE! She is so much more than a fading photograph in my mind, more than the silent moments spent in our arms. She is more alive now than any of the days she was here with us.

Until the day we're together again, I will have to cling to my faded memories, and our precious photographs that will never be enough, and the complete assurance that as I'm missing her, she is happier than I can possibly understand, fully complete, without a single unfulfilled longing or regret.

She plays in a world that knows no bounds, exploring the splendor, beauty, and endless wonder of heaven like the care-free little butterfly she is. Someday we will fly together, and it will feel like the years of separation were only a day compared to eternity together in God's presence.

We love you so much, Eliana.

Fly High for Jesus, Little Butterfly!