Thursday, August 28, 2008


This morning in my letter to Isaac, I told him how it is raining today. And then I told him that we needed the rain. What I meant was that the plants and the grass needed the rain because they have been having a hard time without it. I think God had a different intention about what He wanted me to hear and to know through those words this morning.

On my way in to work this morning, I thought about the rain... I thought about how wilted and withered things look without it, and about how the rain plays a huge role in allowing the grass, flowers, and trees to be vibrant and full of life.

And then I thought about how our hearts our so much like that.

Sometimes the rains come in a peaceful way... its touch gently affecting everything and bringing it life. In our lives, sometimes the rains are like that... almost cleansing in a way... refreshing.

Other times the rains come in full-force, harsh and chaotic. They can do a lot of destruction. I remember (stupidly) driving home last year in a thunderstorm and having to pull over because I couldn't see what was in front of me. Branches were falling off trees, and I am lucky one didn't go through my windshield. Some storms of life are like that, too... they feel chaotic and seem impossible to navigate. Yet somehow, on the other side, order is restored and beauty revealed.

That's so much where I feel like we are right now. In the midst of heavy rains and harsh winds, things flying at us from every direction, and often not able to see but two inches in front of us.

I think of all sorts of passages in scripture where rains and storms are mentioned... like Noah and the flood, with Jesus and his disciples in the boat when He calms the storm. A passage I was drawn to this morning as I was thinking about all of this has nothing to do with a storm though. It comes from 2 Corinthians 4, verses 7-9 and then 16-18:

7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

So often I feel hard pressed, perplexed by the contradictions of our circumstances with who I know my Jesus to be, and often struck down by feelings of frustration, sadness, and sometimes even hopelessness. But I know that God doesn't abandon us even in the times we may feel as though he's silent, and I know that even though we may feel struck down, that we are not destroyed.

I don't know that I feel as though our troubles are light; in fact, I feel as though our burden is heavy. But I know that what I can see in front of me is temporary, and that the work that God is doing through Isaac's life and his story is eternal.

What a gift to know that my son is making an impact on eternity.

Monday, August 25, 2008


I wanted to take a few minutes to address a comment on my previous post saying that I was being judgemental. Please know that was not my intention; our appointment was extremely frustrating, and I hope the following helps to clarify that.

I think it is important to realize that this post was a follow-up to a post from months ago, entitled "The Fourth." In that particular post, I explained that I had had an extensive conversation with this doctor about the issue of termination. Basically, so many doctors had brought up the option with us that I was beginning to wonder if our situation with Isaac was that bad, or if women terminate that easily. And so, I asked him.

In that conversation, the doctor shared that he only knew of 3 women in all of his years of practice that did NOT terminate their pregnancy when given a poor prenatal diagnosis. At that time, I made it very clear to the doctor that termination was not a consideration for us. Period. The only circumstance in which Spencer and I would even consider it is if my health had been in serious jeopardy. It hasn't been. In fact, physically, this pregnancy has been incredibly easy.

Here is what I know to be true, and it comes from Psalm 139:

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

All of Isaac's days have already been ordained for him. God is the giver of life, and He is the one who takes it away. It isn't up to me to decide. I have been entrusted with my son's sweet little life, as short or as long, as easy or as complicated, as it might be. That is an honor. It doesn't mean that it's easy; it's not. In fact at this point, it is often excruciatingly painful as my c-section looms in the not-too-distant future. But unconditional love isn't easy, is it?

In addition, we have wanted to leave the door open for God to intervene. This is the same God who raised Lazaurs from the dead, gave sight to a blind man, and who restored health to a hemorrhaging woman. He is the God of miracles. He may choose to intervene and heal our sweet Isaac; or He may not. We simply want to leave the door open for Him.

The primary reason that this appointment bothered me so much is because for us, there was no more conversation to be had about the issue of terminating my pregnancy. We had already made our stance perfectly clear, and at 30 weeks, the point is moot. My doctor's job is to provide the best medical care possible, and to be a support for my husband and I (which, most doctors we have seen have been).

I could certainly get into other issues surrounding this topic, but I think that the most important point is clear. I know that being given a poor or fatal diagnosis of your child is excruciating beyond words. I know that trying to figure out how to handle that is extremely difficult. But I also know that God's word is clear, and that it's true.

I hope that this provides a little more clarity to the context of my previous post so that it doesn't sound as judgemental, as that was never my intention.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Fourth, part 2

If you've been keeping up with this blog for a while, you may remember a post entitled "The Fourth." That post was all about a long conversation I had with one of the doctors in my OB's practice where he was explaining all the reasons why women terminate their pregnancies. When I asked him how many women he had seen NOT terminate a pregnancy when given a poor prenatal diagnosis, he told me three. And I resolved to be the fourth.

Last Wednesday, we had an appointment and the OB I typically see wasn't in. So, we saw him instead. My "regular" prenatal appointments are typically uneventful... just taking my weight, blood pressure, listening to Isaac's heartbeat, and discussing my questions. Isaac's heart was beating strong in the 150's!

At this partiular appointment, I didn't have a lot of questions. Most of the ones that can be answered at this point, have been. We discussed the findings from my most recent ultrasound, in particular the short umbilical cord. I also asked how all of the doctors were going to be made aware of the details of my delivery should I go into labor before the date of my c-section. This is where things turned interesting.

While discussing how to handle this, the doctor wouldn't drop the fact that, "most pregnancies like this wouldn't have gotten this far" and how "the first thing the doctor on call is going to wonder is, 'How is she still pregnant?'" Truthfully, if that's the first thing they're wondering rather than how to get the right medical staff at the right place at the right time so that my delievery is safe and Isaac is well card for, then I am beginning to wonder. Let's just say that :)

Anyhow, he talked about how most women would have already terminated the pregnancy as soon as they found out about the cystic hygroma or the omphalocele(which, I already knew from our previous discussion). He then asked me point blank why we didn't. And I froze. I was caught so off guard and to be honest was a little intimidated by his strong mindset. I didn't give the answer I wanted to... I wanted to tell him about my faith and about how it's God's decision and not ours. Instead, I told him that we simply don't believe that's a viable option unless my health was in serious jeopardy.

He discussed, anonymously of course, other patients he's seen who are alcohol and drug abusers and how he wishes those patients wouln't continue their pregnancies because of the horrible situation in which those children will then be raised. I did press the choice of adoption, and he simply wrote it off by saying that "these women would never give up their babies." There was one consolation in the conversation and that was this: he said that he's talked to many pregnant women who have said, in theory, that they would make this same choice that we've made, but when push comes to shove, they don't. He said that he noticed that we are actually doing what we said we would do. I was glad that he at least noticed that our conviction isn't empty.

In the end, I just felt incredibly persecuted by this doctor... like I was being belittled for my choice and receiving an "I told you so." No one likes an "I told you so," and it is excruciating in this particular context.

I thought a while about what made his reaction so difficult for me, and I think it's this: the outcome could be different. God could, and maybe still might, choose to intervene and make Isaac healthy and whole on this side of heaven. And I can't help but wrestle with the fact there are people, like this doctor, who would be witness to God's work and couldn't help but think more about Him and who He is. Yet right now, I feel like the answer is no.

And so it's tempting to ask the "why" question... Why are You letting this happen? Why are you not choosing to intervene, when all of these people watching would bear witness to it? Why did You choose us to be the ones to bear this cross?

I try not to go there too often, because I may never know.

I've mentioned before that I've found a lot of comfort and strength in corresponding with Angie Smith (whose husband, Todd, sings in Selah) and in reading her blog. Angie and Todd found out when Angie was 20 weeks pregnant that their daughter, Audrey, had several medical conditions that were fetal. She was born in early April, and passed away a few hours after birth.

Recently, Angie wrote this in her blog:

And because I know Who, I am willfully unconcerned with why. I know that God will use this for good, regardless of who may have intended it for evil.

This just spoke to my heart, mostly because of that word willfully. In a situation like this, you can't help but ask why. And I believe that a certain level of that is healthy, because we need to be able to wrestle that out with God. He can take it. But, there's a point where there has to be a conscious, willfull decision to let God be who He is, and to simply trust in His decisions even if we never know why.

So as we continue to press on, we thank you for continuing to walk with us and pray for us. Would you please pray for this doctor, that he would not be so desensitized that he sees these babies as so disposeable? Would you please pray that God would convict his heart of the fact that when he is talking about a fetus, what he is really talking about is a person... designed and created by God?

Thank you for continuing to pray for a miracle for Isaac, for our strength as we go back to work and deal with the added stress of middle school students, and for our hearts as we wrestle out our questions with God, but learn what it means to be willfully unconcerned with why as we seek to just trust in Him.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Grind

It's been a while since I've posted any real updates, and I have missed sharing with you all here. Spencer and I are both back to the grind now that school has started (for teachers, anyway... kids come back on Tuesday). I am working at a new school, with a new staff, a new curriculum, and a new schedule. Ordinarily, this is something that would excite me; it can be easy to become complacent and it's always good to shake things up a bit once in a while. The fact that my commute was cut in more than half doesn't hurt either.

However, this year, all of these changes are coming at a hard time, and I miss the comfort and familiarity with the school at which I had been working. I miss the ease with which I could work through the curriculum because I knew it well, I miss the depth of relationships with my co-workers... I guess just the security of it all. On Monday night (the eve of going back to work) I didn't sleep well. I literally tossed and turned all night, and woke up feeling sick to my stomach. I don't know if it was the anticipation of meeting a new (and very large) staff, or if was the anxiety of not knowing how I was going to emotionally handle the stress of going back to work. Perhaps it was both.

The folks at my new school have been exceptionally welcoming, friendly, and supportive. I know that it will take some time to become familiar with this school's routines, the new schedule, the new curriculum... and as it was pointed out to me, I need to somehow learn to give myself the grace to simply be just "good enough" right now. That's hard for me because, as the people who know be best would tell you, I can be a total "type A" perfectionist sort of person. "Good enough" was never okay with me. But now it is, because there's a greater thing at stake... a greater thing that needs my time and attention.

And so, we're back to the grind. In all honesty, it is taking its toll. Spencer has less time to golf, which may sound funny, but it has really been a great outlet for him this summer. For me, I already had been feeling like I was in this constant countdown of how many days I had left with Isaac. Now, those days are flying faster and I know I can't get them back. That's been a difficult thing for me, and I am fearful that mid-October is going to be here all too soon.

We could really use your prayers. Would you please pray with us that God would give us the capacity to handle the stress that a new school year and middle schoolers bring? Would you please pray that we would learn to really prioritize in the coming weeks what is non-negotiable at work, and what it is we can let go for the sake of slowing time and enjoying these last 7 or 8 weeks with Isaac? Would you please pray as October continues to draw near, that God would guard our hearts, grant us His peace, and give us the strength to still do a good job a work? And would you continue to please pray with us that He would do a miracle and heal our sweet Isaac?

Thanks for continuing to encourage us and pray for us. We need it, and it means mroe to us than you know.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Maternity Pictures

I've been waiting to update so that I could share some maternity pictures with you. We met up with a wonderful photographer from the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation who took some photos for us at a park near our house. Bill did a fabulous job, and I am in awe that such a service for parents in our position exists.

I will update on doctors appointments and such in a few days. But for now, enjoy...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Ultrasound Update

We had another ultrasound today, and it was fun to be able to see Isaac. At one point during the ultrasound, I started to get really hot and dizzy and felt like I was going to pass out. It was kind of weird. The tech said it had something to do with layign on my back and some artery. She had me lay on my left side and Spencer held a fan in front of my face; after a few minutes I felt better.

The doctor with whom we met today was wonderful. She was great with answering my questions, taking her time scanning, and be very honest about what she was seeing. As things seem to go these days, we found yet another complication. Because the omphalocele (the umbilical hernia) is adhered to my uterine wall, Isaac hasn't been able to move about freely as most babies do. Consequently, the umbilical cord is very, very short (um, 5 cm??). As the doctor put it, it hasn't really had a need to grow any longer since Isaac is pretty much in one spot. She assured me that this would not have any adverse effects on me, but that it could complicate Isaac's delivery. She was great about making sure that information would be clearly communicated to my OB's office so that they were well aware of it.

Please continue to pray that we would enjoy our "visits" with Isaac, for guidance as Spencer and I have lots of pretty significant decisions to make in the next few weeks, and for hearts of comfort and peace in the weeks to come. Please also continue to pray for us as we begin the school year and take on the added stresses that accompany that. We would also appreciate your prayers for all of the many doctors involved in caring for us and for Isaac, that our story would be a testament of who God is and also that God would be preparing everything for as smooth of a delivery as possible for Isaac. Please also don't stop praying for a miracle.

And now... the pictures...

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I was talking with someone yesterday about our journey with Isaac, and in doing so, expressed my frustration with so many contradictions we have encountered in this journey... the contradiction of who we know God to be and the reality of what's happening, the contradiction of growing a life inside of you while preparing for loss and yet still trying to maintain some ounce of hope in what God could still do.

Those contradictions became a reality for us on Monday. We visited the folks at the funeral home and cemetery in order to have an idea of what we would need to do to prepare for our loss of Isaac should God not choose to intervene and instead call him home. I can honestly say it was one of the most horrific experiences of my life. The whole time we were there I just felt so... guilty... as if the conversations we were having I didn't want Isaac to overhear. The whole time he was moving around like crazy, and all I could keep thinking was, "How could this be happening? Is this really real?"

We found out that the cemetery has a special place for babies and young children. It's not in the ideal location of the cemetery, but this particular cemetery is closest to our house, and that is important to Spencer and I. The folks at the funeral home were also incredibly helpful. None of those consolations could erase, though, the depth of the sadness that it brought both Spencer and I to be preparing for the arrival of our son in this way. Instead of cribs and carseats, we're looking at caskets. And instead of painting a nursery, we're choosing a burial plot. Since when did welcoming a new life mean preparing for his passing? I don't think I fully realized the depth of this contradiction until Monday.

We would greatly appreciate your prayers as we continue to make some decisions with regard to these arrangements. We also have another ultrasound tomorrow and would treasure your prayers for that as well... that we would enjoy our time getting to "see" Isaac and "be" with him. Most of all, with the school year about ready to start, which of course means added business and stress, would you please pray that God would continue to just carry us through this, that He would guard our hearts with His perfect peace, that He would continue to strengthen us to love Isaac deeply for the time we have with him, and that He would continue to teach us what it means to rely on His grace for each moment? Thank you for continuing to walk this road with us.

Monday, August 11, 2008

For One More Day

WARNING: This is a long post and is a little bit all over the place :) Don't say I didn't warn you. Stick with me until the end... that's where the pictures are. :)

Our trip to Bethany was great. It always is. Each year my Dad rents this house that is ocean block, so it's a short walk to the beach. The house is a great beach house... mismatched furniture, outdated paint... the place is indistructable, and has a lot of "beachy" character. It's a great place to relax, and you're never worried about messing up something in the house, since you pretty much can't.

We had wonderful weather... not a drop of rain. I had the chance to play some games on the beach, go for walks with Spence, jump waves in the ocean, do a little Sudoku, and sit and read a few books. If you're looking for a good, mindless, funny book, I highly recommend Emily Griffin. Sort of like the Shopaholic series, but different. I read another book about losing a baby, and there was some good information in it. I started, and have yet to finish (even though it's short) C.S. Lewis's A Grief Observed. C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors, and here he discusses the anguish of losing his wife to cancer. It's taken me a while to get through this book because it is so full of statements that cause me to stop and really think. One such statement was this:

You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.

There have been so many things through this journey that Spencer and I have had to decide what we truly believe about them... things like if it's ever okay to terminate a pregnancy, what we believe about medical intervention and life support, and needless to say, who we truly believe God to be.

Lewis continues by talking about how the Bible admonishes us to not mourn like those who have no hope. I have mentioned in the past how the whole idea of hope in our circumstances is something I have been having a hard time wrapping my head around. Hope for what? For a miracle? For future children? Lewis provides a great explanation...

What St. Paul says can comfort only those who love God better than the dead, and the dead better than themselves. If a mother is mourning not for what she has lost but for what her dead child has lost, it is a comfort to believe that the child has not lost the end for which it was created. And it is a comfort to believe that she herself, in losing her chief or only natural happiness, has not lost a greater thing, that she may still hope to 'glorify God and enjoy Him forever.' A comfort to the God-aimed, eternal spirit within her. But not to her motherhood. The specifically maternal happiness must be written off. Never, in any time, will she have her son on he knees, or bathe him, or tell him a story, or plan his future, or see her grandchild.

In a way, it was a source of great comfort to be reminded that Isaac isn't going to lose what he was created for. He is going to be able to be with Jesus. It was a source of comfort, too, to know that through all of this, neither Spencer or I are losing a greater thing... our relationships with God. And in those things, we can continue to have hope. But there's truth to the last part of what Lewis was saying about how there's still a sense of loss with regard to motherhood, and the times I would want to enjoy with Isaac.

That's the part that made our trip to Bethany bittersweet. Growing up, we always went to the beach in the summer. I remember digging deep holes in the sand, making sandcastle villages, jumping waves with my Dad... many of my favorite memories were made there. I saw little children all over the place making those same memories with their parents this past week, and it was excruciating at times to be looking at a reality that won't be, barring God's intervention, for our sweet Isaac. I wanted so badly to be sitting there this summer thinking that next summer, I can take Isaac in the surf. Or that next summer, I could carry him as Spencer and I take a walk on the beach.

I titled this post "For One More Day" because as I was sitting there having those thoughts, I recalled a book I read a while back by Mitch Albom that has that title. The book is essentially about what you would do if you had one more day with a person that you love and had lost. Somehow, as I was thinking about that, I found myself asking God for just one more day with Isaac... one more day to be able to jump the waves while he's in my tummy, one more day to be able to sit and watch the sun rise and tell him all about more day to feel him wiggle and kick.

This whole process has caused me to look at life so differently. I am not sure I can fully articulate that yet, except to say that I have certainly learned to be so much more grateful for one more day. It's easy to get caught up in the tempo of life with work, commitments, and other things going on, that we forget to be grateful for just another day with the people we love. That in itself is a gift.

And now, the long-awaited pictures from our trip....

Mornings at the beach...

Isaac's name...

Little photo shoot compliments of my sister...

Other random photos...