Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Fourth

I had put a call into a doctor at my ob's practice a few weeks ago to ask whether or not I was "allowed" to get a massage. Needless to say, I have been a bit stressed. The doc and I played some phone tag, so I sort of forgot about it and asked the perinatologist when I saw him instead.

Today, the doc from my ob's practice called back again to check in and see how things were going, which I thought was nice. I updated him on the latest since the reports from our various visits with specialists haven't totally caught up with my ob's office at this point. And then, like everyone else we have spoken with, he delicately brought up the option of termination.

This whole question of whether or not to terminate a pregnancy has really gotten to me, and for the longest time, I couldn't figure out why. This morning, I figured it out on my way to work, and my frustration rests in the form of a question: Is our situation really that bad, or do people really terminate that easily? So I asked the doctor.

What proceeded was an interesting and honest discussion as this doctor proceeded to unveil the psychology of this decision. He was very straight forward: yes, according to medicine, this is pretty bad. He made the careful distinction between something that is possible versus probable. He talked all about how I am young with regard to the age of having children, and that it was important to think about how keeping a baby that could potentially have very severe needs would impact, me, my marriage, the rest of my family, and future children. It was almost this sort of idea that it would be better for everyone to just get a clean slate.

He told me general things about other patients... one who was so "heroic" for flying all the way to Kansas to terminate her pregnancy at 26 weeks because it's past the legal time frame in Maryland, and of another who recently found out that her baby has Down Syndrome and is considering termination. He said that in his fifteen years of practice, he can only remeber three... three patients who chose not to terminate when being given the diagnosis of a genetic defect or a congenital defect. I politely listened, because I did appreciate his perspective, but moreover was genuinely interested... not interested in the option of termination, but interested in the mindset behind it.

This doctor didn't know he was talking to the neice of a dear, sweet woman with Down Syndrome, or the step-sister of a girl who is blind, mentally retarded, mildly autistic, and who can communicate only limitedly. If my grandmother or my step-sister's mom had chosen what almost all of those other women this doctor has encountered in his fifteen years of practice had chosen, they wouldn't be here. I wouldn't be able to laugh when my aunt remembers things from years ago that I had soon forgotten, or have my eyes well up with tears at the beauty of step-sister singing at the top of her lungs at church, particularly around Christmas time.

Maybe our prognosis is that bad... but God is bigger. God is good, and He is the author and perfector of life. In the book of Psalms, David talks about how all of our days are ordained for us before one of them ever came to be. Our little boy's days have already been ordained; I don't know how many days that is, or how hard those days may be to walk. But I know God is good... always.

And so, I will be the fourth... the fourth woman that this doctor has encountered who has chosen not to terminate her pregnancy because of a difficult diagnosis, or the long road that it is to walk. God's grace is sufficient for each step; He has certainly shown us that so far. Just maybe, God is continuing to work out a miracle. And if He is, then today it was clear to me that this doctor is one more person who needs to see and be astounded by the miraculous work of God. Would you pray for him?

Would you continue to pray with us that our little guy would be healed? Maybe that's in the womb, and maybe that's out of the womb once He's born. Would you pray that God would do a miracle in his life, that his heart would be perfect, his lungs and every other vital organ, system, and limb would all be just right? Would you pray that his omphalocele would be able to be fixed and that once it is, everything would "work" correctly and be free of any complications? And would you pray that because of God's great work in our little boy's life, that other people who don't know Him would have the same reaction the centurion did when he witnessed Jesus's death on the cross that "Surely, the man is the Son of God," and that they would come to know Him as their own Lord and Savior?

15 comments:

Kirsten said...

Amen! Praying for miracles. And that your faithfulness to God's perfect plan for your baby will reach the masses. Thank you for being the fourth. I cringe at how small that number is.

Your story is a witness. Your blog is a witness. And your baby is already leaving a legacy even before he is born.

Keeping you in prayer,
Kirsten

Megan said...

Praying with you #4!

letters2alex said...

Hello!

I recently started a group for Cystic Hygroma and Lymphangioma on Myspace. I have other families who share your same experience and may be able to offer you support. I hope you will consider joining. I am an adult living with CH and Lymphangioma. I blog about it on my page. Below you will find a link to my page and my group.

Friendship Page (105 Members): myspace.com/lmnetwork
Group (68 Members): http://groups.myspace.com/lmnetwork

Take Care!

CJay

Jen said...

This is a beautiful post. I am reminded of how after I did the Emmaus Walk retreat... three days of commune with God, we are encouraged to go out into our "Fouth Days" with renewed faith and vigour for the gospel of Christ.

May your fourth days provide miracles, precious "fourth" mother.

Crystal said...

That was beautifully written. I really hope God is good to you. I hope your little boy gets healed.

Sheila said...

I'm glad you decided to be the Fourth. I was interested in your dr's responses just as you were. This subject has interested me ever since I had my m/c at 19 weeks and then found myself following many blogs of women who have received troubling diagnoses but still carried their babies to term. Amazing faith they all had/have. It makes me sad that you are not the fourhundredth. I wish many miracles along your journey to be the fourth - I will be praying for you along the way.

Sheila

Michelle R. said...

Stacy I am crying. I love your faith in Him. He is good and He created this baby. I can not imagine your feelings/thoughts, but I see His work of grace in you. A friend of mine who has a brother with Down Syndrome said that, today, 80% of Down Syndrome babies are aborted. So incredibly mind boggling how we dispose of precious human beings. Thankfully, God is the perfect Judge. Love you...

Lauren said...

Yes, yes, yes! Praying for your doctor and for all the others who may chose Christ through this experience. YEA!

Loved the post!

Anonymous said...

I Just remember hearing about my neighbor that they told her the baby had downs. She was perfect. She doesnt.
I also saw a baby show on the Dicovery Health and the baby was supposed to have all these problems. Well the baby was perfect.
So I think if you keep your faith everything will be ok. Good luck to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

The though of terminating a pregnancy because a child is not "perfect" makes me so sad. My good friend just had a child with Down Syndrome. The had no idea until she was born. I have to say she is the happiest baby most cuddly baby that i have every met. I could not imagine any of our lives without her. I know having a child with special needs is a challenge, but having any child is a challenge. Even the "normal" ones can turn out to be more than anyone bargained for. There are no guarantees in life and we can't live in fear over the unknown.

Kristin (kekis) said...

Stacy, your entry made my heart fill up. I have a severely handicapped brother, and I know that I wouldn't be who I am today if he were not here. Jeffrey is my true hero and (as you said) he makes me laugh and cry and fill with pride and scream at the top of my lungs.

With all of that being said, as an adult I now see how Jeff has changed so many lives in both amazing and difficult ways. Your choice to continue your pregnancy - and it is a choice that obviously others before you have faced - is the perfect one for the two of you no matter what any doctor says.

Keep your faith steadfast and rely on the Lord. Pray to Him and expect Him to perform healing miracles unless He shows you a different plan. I'm sure none of what is happening is making a whole lot of sense. It's probably hard to remain faithful at times. Know that this is a part of the plan that God created for you both, and He will be with you every step of the way. So will the rest of us.

Monica said...

Stacy, what a beautiful post. You are an amazing mommy. I applaud your firm stand to be the fourth.

Jamie said...

praying with the 3 of you. Looking forward with much hope to meeting the miracle man you are carrying.

Trish said...

Wow.. I'm wiping tears. I admire your strength.. your bravery.

I spent so much of my pregnancy being afraid of losing it that I had a very, very difficult time committing to it., to believing it.

Now that my son is here I can't help but think "What was I waiting for?" He's so small and his health is so tenuous.. but I love him so whole heartedly that I hate that I waited so long to really recognize the life that was living inside me.
You seem to have embraced what you have.. It may be painful.. but you're loving in the moment.
That's incredibly brave.

God bless you.

Raising Olives said...

Have you ever heard of Christian Homes and Special Kids CHASK?Their purpose is to minister to moms and dads who receive an adverse prenatal diagnosis. Either through support and networking with other families who have faced this difficulty or through providing Christian families who are willing to adopt their baby no matter how long they have on this earth or how many medical problems they may face.

I'm not mentioning this for you. Obviously you've made it through, but you have a large audience and it would be nice to get the word out that these services are available. So that hopefully we can save some of the precious, special little people!

Blessings,
Kimberly