Thursday, January 9, 2014

when ultrasounds get scary

I posted on fb this past Friday about our experience during Henry's 18-wk ultrasound, but I'm going to decompress a little more... I want to have this to look back on. So forgive me for a little self indulgence? It's probably going to be long and you're more than welcome to excuse yourself if I get too wordy. ;)

We were settled in, enjoying the ambiance of a dimly-lit room and having a blast watching Henry hang out on the screen. Meanwhile, the ultrasound tech was measuring every finger bone and counting heart chambers. It's crazy what science allows us to do. Our fun lasted until the end, when she brought up a summary screen and said, "Okay, so everything looks great....except for one number that concerns me. The measurement I have of your baby's femur is 2 weeks short. By itself, that can mean he is just a small guy! (she wouldn't suggest this, but my obgyn told me later that the measurement can also be off if the tech doesn't get the view just right, since we are really talking about MILLIMETERS of distance, here.) But it is also one of seven markers for Down's Syndrome. So I'm going to have you walk down the hall to speak to our genetic counselor to see what this means and what your options are from here."

In that terrifying walk of no more than 25 steps, thoughts collided in my mind. Things like, "No baby should ever be sick." "How can I protect my baby?? He's supposed to be safe inside me!" "This can't possibly be happening to us!" "Our life could change sooo much....." But mostly just repetitions of "Dear God, HELP." Once there, we are met by a tall, lanky counselor with dark hair and glasses, and she tells us that he's probably okay, but there is a chance he could have Down's Syndrome. Amniocentisis (where they enter the uterus with a needle and pull out some fluid from around baby to look at his DNA and count his chromosomes- that also comes with a risk of miscarriage since they are going in next to baby) is not an option in our eyes, and the blood test she tells us about isn't very reliable. And so we choose to wait and pray.

A week later at our OBGYN appointment, my doctor suggests another type of blood test that is 99.9% accurate and we are on board. So the waiting continues for two more weeks until we get the phone call that says, "Hey. We can tell you that we are 99.8% sure your precious babe is healthy and happy and doing just fine." And I have an ultrasound this coming Monday to re-measure his femur and make sure that it is still 2 weeks short or less. As long as it is staying the same, proportionally, they are no longer concerned.

Sigh of relief.

What is surprising to me is the gratitude I have on this side- not specifically about his health (though don't get me wrong here, I am BEYOND grateful and relieved about that. It's just not what has been occupying my thoughts Now that it's been answered a little bit, I am able to rest in that.) but about the growth I was able to see in my Walk. Crazy? Perhaps. It's certainly not what I thought I'd be thinking about. But in light of the past year, this was the encouragement God knew my heart needed.

With each of my pregnancies, I had a specific fear that I had to work to overcome. When I was pregnant with Roman, and this is by FAR my most embarrassing fear to admit, I was so scared I'd have an ugly baby!!! Seriously. I was convinced I'd deliver him and they would lay this swaddled little bundle of alien-like joy in my arms and I'd think, "But he's so ugly!? I don't want the baby only a mother can love!!!!" To answer your question, YES. I knew this was ridiculous. I never voiced it to anyone. But it was terrifying to me in the quiet of the night.

With Liam, I let people convince me that he would be a terror. "Roman is too easy, too content. Just wait. Liam is going to be the exact opposite. Get ready for torture!" people would say. And so this kept me awake my second pregnancy.

And now, as Henry "bakes," my fear has been about his health. We have two healthy boys. What if this one is handicapped in some way? What if this drastically changes my assumptions about the kind of life we'll be living. What if we never get to go gallivanting across Europe and enjoying our marriage as two best friends again, after our last kid is in college, because we will be taking care of our child until we pass away? And these were the fears that threatened to creep in when thought life wasn't disciplined the last few weeks. How ironic, then, that I was asked to face that very fear. Right???

And oh, how encouraged my heart was when we were in that office- figuratively standing there in front of the scariest thing my heart could imagine, and I heard my heart say, "Okay, Lord. If that's what you have for this family, then I trust you to give us the grace to live it out. I believe you picked Henry- whoever he is!- because he is the best fit for us, and is exactly what this family needs. Because he is a part of the story you have for us to tell as we reflect YOU. And I am determined to bless You as we walk." Now, let's not pretend there weren't tears. Because there were.This isn't an easy thing to think about. These aren't the dreams a mother has for her son and the things his life will hold. But I'd say that I was able to live in the land of peace about 86-89% of the time. But that felt huge because a year ago we went through the scariest thing I could imagine for our family, in terms of jobs and finances, and I bailed. Dude, I bailed hard. I lived from a fetal position, crying and terrified. And I was so frustrated all year because the only thing I could think is "I thought I was made of more than that!! I know God better than I showed!!! Dude, I faced a time of trial and I was weak." And it was laaaaaaaaaaame. So lame.

But this is where God has grown me. This is the 100lb weight I just bench pressed because I have been lifting all year, actually all my life but specifically this past year, increasing the weight of the challenge. And I just victoriously benched a personal record in my faith. Not because I'm strong, but because my God is. And because He and I are growing closer. And because I'm more practiced in surrender and laying "it" down. And as I wipe the sweat from my brow and wait for my breathing to return to normal again, I am glowing. Boo-yah!!!!

And now, Lord, we can be done with trials of any kind. Because this was a victory. And we can just leave it there. ;) That's how it works, am I right?????

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