Tuesday, March 23, 2010

When Doubt Creeps In

Today was a bad day.

And while I know what you are thinking, the day was really like any other bad Mommy day. It was a day of way too much crying, way too much whining, way too much yelling, and way too many Reese's peanut butter cups (don't you dare ask how many...)

It was a day when bedtime couldn't come soon enough and once it did, the Mommy regrets came, along with the urge to run into their bedrooms to hug and apologize for all the wrong things I did.

But instead of the "at least there is tomorrow" thoughts that usually provide some peace, that is when it hit me. And this bad day only got worse.

The questions and fears and tears came out of nowhere, and they hit me hard. Really hard.

If I can't handle a day like today, how can I handle a "bad" day once the baby comes?
If I have no patience now, how will I possibly have the patience for the challenges ahead?
How can I provide the emotional support for three precious little girls when I am such a mess?
How can I do this?
Clearly, I can't do this.
There is no way I can do this.
God, you didn't pick the right woman.

The doubts just kept coming, and the cries to God were loud and painful.

Oh God, I just want her to be okay. I want this all to just be okay.

After a call to Jeff, I felt a little better, but my heart was extremely heavy. And then I was led to a copy of the sermon our pastor gave 2 weeks ago that I'd been meaning to read, and here is the verse that I saw:

"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." (Romans 5: 3-5)

The verse instantly provided peace, but as I reflected on it a little more (while cleaning toilets no less), it occurred to me...

This is not about who I am now, but who I will become from this experience. In other words, God will use this experience to make me the Mom I need to be to this baby...and even the Mom I need to be for Emma and Kendall. He will give me the perseverance and the character. And the hope that will make me turn to him when I feel I'm not enough.

You see, it isn't about what I can't do. It's about what God can do.

Since we started our journey, a lot of people have told us that God "chose" me and Jeff to be this baby's parents. That He only picks special people to take care of such a special child. And I'll admit, those words have provided a lot of peace and reassurance. But in some ways, they've also provided a little bit of pressure. And for those of you that know me, I don't take pressure lightly.

But now, after tonight, I'm not so sure I believe those words. I think God could use any one of us to do anything He needs us to do. The point is not that Jeff and I are "special" or even the "right" people for this job. The point is that His power is so great that He can use even us to do His work. We just have to allow Him to work through us.

That knowledge gives an enormous amount of comfort and peace to my soul. It renews my heart and encourages my spirit.

"I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13)

As God forms this precious life inside of me, He is also forming me. What a blessing. What a comfort. What a God.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Beginning of Our Journey

I know the last few posts haven't been very informational, but I do intend to make this a place where you can find out the latest on our little one. However, I have a feeling I will also use this as a place to share my emotions, so I'll try and label future baby updates clearly in case you want to skip all the mushy stuff! ;)

I realize some of you might not actually know what is truly going on with our baby, so I will start at the beginning and do my best to be concise. As you can imagine, I could write 100 posts on the last 13 days, but I'll stick to the key points this time. Thoughts and reflections will come later...trust me, they are brewing.

Almost 2 weeks ago, we went for our routine 18-20 week ultrasound. We decided to find out the sex of the baby for the first time (I finally gave in), so we decided to bring Emma, our 4 year old daughter, with us (more on that later).

However, the sex of the baby became secondary once we learned that our baby has Myelomeningocele, the most severe form of Spina Bifida. Basically, during the early stages of development, our baby's spinal cord did not form correctly and actually failed to properly close. This means part of her spinal cord is literally sticking out of her back, leaving nerves exposed. Although this doesn't always lead to permanent nerve damage, it looks like it has in our baby's case.

The doctor was unable to visualize any movement in either of our baby's legs from the knee down. In other words, she wasn't kicking, and we couldn't get her to change position during the ultrasound. In fact, we have a photo of her with her leg sticking straight up in front of her...an image forever planted in my heart. This may indicate some level of permanent paralysis in her legs. Both of her feet are also clubbed, a secondary effect from the Spina Bifida.

Because she only weighed 7 ounces during the ultrasound and wouldn't change position, the doctor was unable to see just how much of her spinal cord has been affected. This is something we hope to find out at our next ultrasound, which is scheduled for the beginning of April.

The most concerning information was that our baby also has mild Hydrocephalus, which is unwanted fluid in her brain. This is the result of her exposed spinal cord pulling down on her brain (called Arnold-Chiari Malformation) and obstructing the correct flow of brain fluid. This is very common in Spina Bifida. However, as the spinal cord continues to pull, there is a chance that this fluid can continue to build up and put pressure on her brain. If that happens, there is the risk of mental challenges as well as physical challenges. Right now, our baby's fluid levels aren't overly concerning, but the next ultrasound will tell us if it is stable or if it is increasing.

So what does all of this mean? Well, it means that our baby will need surgery after she is born to cover her spinal cord. She may also need to have a shunt placed in her head to drain out the excess fluid. These are often permanent. She will also require surgery at some point to correct her clubbed feet.

As far as what it means long term, we just don't know. There is a chance more nerve damage will occur as our baby grows these next 19 weeks, but we are hopeful that God will prevent that from happening. We do not know if our baby will walk on her own some day, but, again, we our trusting God's plan for her life and will patiently see what He decides.

All of this was totally unexpected. Both of Emma and Kendall are active, healthy little girls. This does not run in our family. Only 1 in 1000 babies are born with this condition...1 in 1000. That number still blows my mind.

None of this is easy. Writing this isn't easy, but God is putting it my heart to share our baby's story so that people will pray for her...and boy are they praying! We have been overwhelmed at the amount of support and love we have received these last few weeks. God is so good! I can't tell you what an honor it is to carry a life in my womb that is already glorifying the Lord so much. Although I would never choose this for our baby or our family, in many ways, I actually feel blessed. I can't wait to see what God has in store for our precious angel. We are celebrating her life, and I am falling more and more in love with her every day.

Yes, the journey ahead is a long one. We will have many big decisions to make and a whole lot of learning to do. But I know now more than ever that God is with us every step of the way. Some days He will guide us, while others He will carry us. But He is there and always will be. We can feel it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Promise

When this world gives you rain


You need to dance in it

And soak in the life it brings.


For behind the clouds

Is the Son


And when He is shining,

There is always the promise of a rainbow.


Tuesday, March 09, 2010



I sit here and pray, "God, is this really happening?"

He gently reminds me, "It is, and it is okay."

He hugs me with the sun as I walk my girls across the yard. He gives me a gentle nudge and a tickle in my tummy to remind me of the life that needs me so much. He understands my cries, and He forgives me when doubt creeps in.

Our baby has Spina Bifida. An unexpected challenge, but a fact that has brought more hope and faith into our lives than we ever imagined. It's only been 6 days since we found out, but God is moving mountains and providing peace all at the same time. He is taking care of the little life in my womb, and we are whole-heartedly trusting that care. It is His plan, not ours.

We will hope, but we will celebrate and accept and love unconditionally.

We will love this child the way God loves her. She is perfect in His eyes. And, really, this is all that matters.