Much to our surprise, we found out a few months ago that we are expecting another baby. As you already know, Mike and I carry the recessive gene for JS, so our children have a 25% chance of being affected with the syndrome. Naturally, we were shocked when we found out we were pregnant because we were never going to try for another biological child. Apparently, the Lord had other plans and now we are 12 weeks along. The baby is due October 28, 2010.
Not only did we respond in shock, but also a huge range of other emotions which included fear, anxiety, excitement, restlessness, thankfulness, and depression. I noticed that for myself, I had two parallel thoughts regarding this pregnancy.
My wayward response: "God is upset with me. He knows how much I've idolized having more healthy children. How I've envied others who could have as many healthy children as they wanted. So now He's giving me over to my desires and punishing me for all my wrong thoughts. Now He's going to give us another child with disabilities to teach me a lesson and to discipline me. If only we had gone through every precaution to never allow this to happen. It's all our fault."
My legalistic response: "God knows how much we've gone through. So now, since it was His idea to give us this baby, He owes me a healthy child. I'm entitled to a healthy child since I already bear the heartache of seeing Marcus and his disabilities."
Once we started to tell our family and friends, we were so surprised at their response. We heard things like, "What a blessing! This child is from the Lord! He opened your womb! He loves you and intends for this child to be a blessing no matter the outcome! It is His good will!"
As we heard those things more and more, we were like, "Huh? Really? God intended for this to happen? He intends to love us through this?" It was so good for us to lean on what others said to help us see things clearly. And since then, our hearts have been encouraged and comforted and He's given us peace and trust. Oh, how we needed others to help us see what we couldn't!
However, today was another bump in the road. I had my 1st trimester screening. When the Perinatologist was quiet, and once he said in a low and calm voice, "Let me tell you what we've found.., " we knew there was bad news because we've heard those very words from doctors a few times before. The baby's neck measurement, specifically the nuchal fold, was very large...off the charts, so to say. In a nutshell, this finding indicates a 20% chance of Down's Syndrome, a 25% chance of a heart defect, and could be the very early signs of Joubert Syndrome. He did ask us to remember the positive chances of having a healthy child and was so kind to really care for us, but our hearts sank.
In a weird way, however, we weren't surprised. We had braced ourselves for another child with needs. But to hear about Down's Syndrome and a heart defect were unexpected. And to see signs of JS this early, also caught us off guard. Mike had to go back to work after the appointment, and Audrey and I had to pick up Marcus, so all we said were firm "I love you's" to each other and then caught up together to soak it all in when we got home.
Could it be? Could it be that God intends for us to have another child with special needs? And maybe even have multiple diagnoses? How will we handle it? Is there room in our hearts for more pain? I'm so weak. I'm not like those supermoms out there. I can't do it.
We don't know the outcome, and it's not our place to know. Yet when we think back on how God has delivered us in our past trials, we see clearly that He's drowned us with His grace, where all we could do was rest, float to the top, and have Him rescue us. I've been thinking a lot about one of Grace Mark's posts, where she talks about how she had to face her greatest fear...losing her husband, Andrew. This quote has come to mind quite often lately:
"I was terrified of losing Andrew, because I wasn't sure if what was on the other side was survivable. It turns out Christ was on the other side. Just as the sky is blue in America and is the same sky in the rest of the world, Christ was with me before I lost Andrew and Christ is still always with me and still sufficient in all loss and no matter what may come."
Please pray for us. Pray that we would have full confidence that Jesus will be there, even if our greatest fears come true. Just as He's been so near to us in our special needs journey thus far.
On a thankful note, it was amazing seeing this baby again today. We are so in love with this new life being fearfully and wonderful knit inside me and consider it a privilege to take care of him. Marcus is going to be a big brother, and Audrey is going to have two little monkeys to wrestle with. It's a boy. :-)