Saturday, October 25, 2008

for I know the plans I have for you, declares MY Lord

Yesterday we had Nemo's 20-week ultrasound. We went in hopeful, excited, and anticipating the joy of seeing our perfect, beloved child as he danced and rested in my womb. During my pregnancy with Maddie, these moments provided connection and awe as our Christian ultrasound tech delighted in our coming child's face, hands, eyes, legs, feet, pointing out each feature, exclaiming "Praise God! Look at that perfect nose/heart/brain!"

As we prayed in the car before the procedure, I felt at peace and more than ready to see Nemo's features much as we saw his big sister's before. Nothing could prepare us for the emotional roller coaster the next two and a half hours would bring. Our ultrasound tech was quiet as he spent a lot of time examining our baby's heart, brain, and kidneys. He spent so much time looking and examining the heart that I started to suspect not all was right.

After 40 long, tense minutes, with no more than a few grunts from the tech, he turned to me, notified us the doctor would be in shortly to discuss the findings, and then asked my age and whether I had any early genetic testing done. I remarked that I had not, and he made a face and a noise not unlike "tsk" before leaving the room. The few pictures he provided (two of Nemo's feet, one of his lower leg) were cut and tossed to the side next to my purse.

Ben placed his hand on my arm and asked how I was doing. I was in shock that the tech could be so judgmental about my decision to forego testing, as if the knowledge of what could possibly be wrong with our baby could change the way I feel about him. The doctor returned and gently explained that there were a few findings, none of which are worrisome on their own but together, may point to something more serious going on. Choroid plexus cyst: some extra fluid in the area of the brain that creates brain fluid, echogenic intracardiac focus: a "spot" on the heart, most likely extra calcium in the muscle, and pyelectasis: extra fluid in one of his kidneys. The doctor was quick to point out that all of these things clear up on their own 95% of the time either during pregnancy or within the first few hours of birth.

He offered to do an amniocentesis that afternoon, or another option of meeting with the genetic counselor to get some additional information about what could be going on. At the mention of amnio, my heart sunk. But immediately wisdom from the Lord filled my heart, announcing that it is the doctor's job to provide the most accurate information. But what made me so sad was the flippant way in which everyone was referring to this pregnancy, to the child we had seen moving and dancing just moments before. There was a possibility of "termination," should we find that in fact, something was going on with our child.

We chose to meet with the genetic counselor, and waited in the lobby with many other expectant women, and I immediately texted my two friends who I knew would be on their way to preschool, cellphones close by. I asked them to pray for wisdom as we met with a counselor to consider the possibility of something wrong with our child.

The meeting went well. The genetic counselor was knowledgeable and able to answer all of our questions. We had 2 markers of a possible 9 that "may increase the concern about the chance" of our baby having Down syndrome. If, by some small probability, our child did in fact have Down's, there was an additional small chance he could have a heart problem, though our ultrasound showed no structural defects or concerns, just a small "dot." I was so relieved that of all our possibilities, first of all our child was most likely healthy, and second, the next likely possibility was of Down's. Big deal. 

This is OUR child, Christ's child, God's creation, an answer to prayer and a blessing. We informed the counselor there was NO chance this baby would be terminated, and given the crazy math formulas that broke down the chances of our baby's health and well-being, we felt comfortable forgoing amnio and its own set of risks.

On the way home, again God's wisdom filled me as I said to Ben, "a healthy child is really just the first of many hurdles we will face as a parent." Who knows what our future holds? Our child could face injury, depression, illness, accident, hard times, and all of these things are one hundred percent out of our control. God is good. He holds our future and the future of our child securely in His loving hands. 

It saddens me that the state of our world is that we could choose to end the life of a perfectly healthy baby due to the inconvenience of a chromosomal disorder. It saddens me that an u/s tech would feel the need to judge a couple on their choice to embrace life, no matter what the outcome. Yet it gladdens my heart to know that as we sat in that room, my friends prayed. The Holy Spirit intervened with groans and sighs and cries to my Creator. God himself surrounded us with His love, wisdom, encouragement and grace. 

For I know the plans I have for you, declares my sovereign Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future. There is a plan for this child. Most likely, he is healthy and strong. But we are assured that he is perfect, he is beloved, and he is ours. Praise be to God, who is the source of our hope and salvation!


bonnieb said...

Thank you for posting this so that I can read it over and over and be encouraged by your faith and by our God and by the power of prayer. love, the tutu

The Ulrickson Fam said...

Becky! Wow, what a day. We will pray for God's peace to continue to remind you what you already know- this boy is perfect, created by a Creator who is perfect. love you guys!

mel said...

Here is another 29:11 verse I will be praying over you guys during the next few months:

"The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace." ~ Psalm 29:11

Stephanie said...

Hi Becky, I'll be praying for you all. This baby will be perfect, even if it's in his own special way.