Sometimes gifts don't always come to you in the way you expect them. As most of you know, our family has been on a journey this past year in which we have experienced some incredible highs and some scary lows. God's Holy Spirit, your prayers, the love and generosity of our friends and family (some who are scattered across the world that we have never even met yet) have given us the strength to face challenges we never imagined we could survive (my 10th grade English teacher would have made me change that sentence for being too long!). Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your love and support. However, we recently learned of a new challenge we are bracing to face.
Because of Emily's high blood pressure, Carcinoid tumors, and her being pregnant in her 30's (and yes, she is much younger than me - and way hotter too), her pregnancy is deemed "high risk". That is code for plenty of ultrasounds, which increases the likelihood that some medical professional will ruin the surprise and accidentally tell us the gender of our unborn baby. Grrrrrrr.
During one of those ultrasounds, a doctor noticed some small indicators that lead him to suggest we take a simple blood test to rule out or confirm his suspicions. We took his advice. We waited not so patiently, and a week later, we received a phone call. Our baby has down syndrome.
It is my guess that no couple on the planet can ever be prepared to hear those words. Maybe the fact that we had two perfectly healthy babies prior lured us into assuming everything would go as planned with this birth. But like I said earlier, not all gifts come to you the way you expect them.
Surprise #2! We decided (since Emily practically lives there for now) to transfer our care to Children's Hospital in D.C. We love their doctors & nurses, and the care is wonderful. They preformed yet another ultrasound, and as well, just to be safe, an echocardiogram. It was an emotional day to begin with. The rare days Emily and I get spend together are precious. We were (and are) still wrestling through how this new challenge will impact our family. We are hanging on by a thread to the hope and prayers that God will preform a huge miracle in our little Lily. At the end of the day, we sat across the table from a Cardiologist, holding each others hand, only to hear what no expecting parents would ever want to hear - that our unborn baby also has a serious congenital heart defect that will require surgery. My wife can fill you in on the details in a later posting - she is much better at explaining medical stuff than me!
As you can imagine, this is a lot to handle - on many levels. As a husband, I have watched Emily show more love and give more strength to our Lily - making incredible sacrifices to get her the care she needs to give her a chance to live. I wonder how much more one mom has left to give. She is an incredible woman. I have watched our girls - all four of them - endure having their worlds as they know it turned upside-down. It amazes me how well they are doing. I wonder how much more change they can handle. For the time being our plan is to wait until the baby is born to explain the complications. I'm sure when the time is right to talk to our girls, we will know it. For that reason, we are asking any of you who are around our children to guard your conversation so they can enjoy this pregnancy and delivery without the added stress of trying to make sense of something their young minds cannot understand. Since their only frame of reference for heart complications is Lily, we would like them to experience the arrival of their sibling without fear.
I told some of my family when I shared the news with them, that God must see something in me I don't see in myself. If that' s the case, than He will provide emotionally, physically, relationally, and spiritually everything we need to face this - and face it we will, both willing, and in his strength, able.
James 1:17 says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above". Our soon to be born baby is exactly that; a good and perfect gift from above - God's incredibly beautiful gift - to us. For not all gifts come to us exactly like we expect. And although we definitely didn't expect this, we accept this gift with arms wide open. Because Emily's belly reminds us everyday, "ready or not, here I come!"
Peace and Goodwill,